The oceanic depth of the Navy blue of this textile’s dye might upset any mind for as the ocean conceals even a diamond’s brilliance, blue absorbs all colours. Whatever other designers’ angle, in designing this georgette piece Suman Kumar has so chosen her material and design vocabulary, something that she invariably does in most of her works, that it only multiplies the depth and expanse of its blue, either by adding to it a deep saffron strip for discovering blue’s greater depths through contrast, or using mirrors-like brilliant cut-stones, spangles and sequins, reflecting in which it has for eyes far wider ocean of blue than it actually has. Suman Kumar, herself a woman, knows what shall make a textile a woman’s ultimate choice, and how far she can go in embellishing it without making it cumbrous, attaining the highest level of grace, elegance and gorgeousness, and adding to it, the art’s flavour, while retaining the textile’s natural simplicity, a sari’s inherent character.
The material used for designing this sari is the same as is widely used in textile designing in India since long: sequins, spangles, cut-stones, metal-thread and metal pieces of various shapes, such as in paisley and leaf forms. The design-patterns used are few, simple and traditional, though the effect that they produce is astonishing. For designing the field only a single fish-floral motif has been used. Elongated length-wise, this motif comprises two parts, a fish-like looking central part, its belly, consisting of the gold-wire net and a few spangles, and the other, nine petals, consisting of leaf-like shaped cut-stones, four on each side, and one, on the top side of the length. The two cut-stones on the opposite side of the top and the rest on two sides look like the wings of a fish. With one on the top-side with a head-like look and the wire-net comprising the belly, the motif assumes the shape of a fish, or that of a fish-floral motif.
The border is not as wide as is found in most of the designed saris. It is broadly a sleek band consisting of a simple design-pattern, though its beauty is unsurpassed. About half of its breadth has on the reverse a lace, brocaded heavily with gold zari laid in zigzag design. Besides stiffening the border’s bottom it transmits its lustre also on the obverse side with the result that the patterns rendered on the obverse reveal greater brilliance. The obverse side has stitched over it a band in dark saffron with a moderate breadth, as if a line of lightening travels over the ocean’s expanse. On each of the edges on both sides there run three identical courses of gold spangles, except an isolated green one intercepting them at equal-distances. Over these courses on the bottom edge there runs a course of mountain motif rendered in simple outline-stitches. In the centre of the saffron-band there runs a course of cut-stones shaped like paisleys of tiny size.
The fish-floral motif used for adorning the field adorns also the field part of the pallu. However pallu’s real beauty lies in the repeat-forms of the motif rendered along the border, on both sides of the length, and the breadth. An intricately designed floral motif of European origin, in use in India since mid-nineteenth century, it comprises a large size circular flower which makes the basis of the motif. All shoots, supporting leaves, buds or flowers on them, and even subordinate shoots, emerge from this central flower. Most of the forms, shoots, stems, leaves, buds or flowers have been rendered with gold wire used with spangles for adding the volume. Large size sequins placed in the centre of the flower comprise its pollen containing ovary, while the tiny metal-sheets cut like leaves and cut-stones shaped like paisleys and flower-petals have been used for constituting the leaves and petals. Well grown and fully developed branches consist of cut-stone beads besides the metal wire net used for framing them. Gold’s lustre, ocean’s depth and diamond’s brilliance, all combine to make this sari a rare piece.
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.
Primary Color Pantone 19-4027 TPX (Estate Blue)