A variant of shawl, stole has a widely different character. While wool is normally the exclusive medium and material to manufacture a shawl, and its use is restricted to winter, or autumn evenings of a cold country, with any of the wool, silk, cotton, linen, or an unconventional fibre, being its medium, a stole is an all-time wear. Unlike a shawl which is largely a component of sari or Indian style loose fitted garments like a European gown, a stole compounds even with trousers and any tight-fitted wear. Its utility is ever the most for those using two-wheelers. The embroiderer has wondrously created a beautiful piece of ensemble in the form of this stole out of a plain silk piece. The motifs, embroidered over it, are more from a contemporary painter’s studio rather than from an embroiderer’s Karkhana. Bold patterns, as if laid in thick layers of paint with a knife, betraying trans-barrier links, are more characteristic to contemporary world and mind.
The designing of the piece confines to just four corners of the textile. Deviating from the usual practice and principle of uniformity the designer has conceived four different design-patterns for all four corners. The design-patterns on two of the corners, diagonally opposed to each other, have horizontal thrust. The one in various shades of green has less bold patterns than the other but its forms are thinner and have a greater length than the other. The other design-pattern has been conceived in different shades of brown and grey. Both have calligraphic contours but they are better defined and are in wider use in the patterns in green than in the other. The green design-pattern terminates with a bright blue flower, while the other, with a half flower in pink. It has another similar flower radiating from a leaf in its middle part.
One of the other two corners has been designed with one-and-a-half inch wide curving line forming a quarter of a circle. It has been embroidered in golden yellow. Balloon-like motifs, conceived in different colours, break this curved line, as if breaking its monotony. A large flower with six petals with a pair of forked leaves flanking it seems to float over its apex. On its inner side there are two rows, one consisting of a temple-door like forms and ‘V’ shape motifs, and the other, a curved line manifesting a shrine’s door as well as forms of calligraphy. The design-pattern conceived to adorn the fourth corner above it has been shifted towards the centre. It is a large-size flower with eight petals conceived in strips of blue, saffron and pinkish-green. In between each two petals, there have been embroidered eight flying forms perhaps for representing honey-bees. The technique used is perhaps the oldest kind of embroidery : to create a design-pattern by first drawing or conceiving its outline and then filling it with fine small, consistent and uniform stitches. The beauty of this form of embroidery consists in its visual effect which the embroidered patterns, slightly raised above the textile’s normal surface as if obtained by being embossed and would eject, create. In this piece the visual effect has been further enhanced by large mono-colour zones that keep the eye engaged for a period longer than usual. The embroidered patterns are so neatly and precisely laid that it looks as these have been laid by appliqué technique: sharply cut and neatly pasted.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.