Date of this Version
Published in Textile Society of America 2014 Biennial Symposium Proceedings: New Directions: Examining the Past, Creating the Future, Los Angeles, California, September 10–14, 2014,
A community of block printers and dyers in the Indian state of Gujarat has concentrated upon producing religious textiles for nomadic groups. These unique textiles, known as Mata Ni Pachedi, fulfill the need for a religious representation/environment for groups who have no permanent settlement and thus need to construct temporary shrines for their religious ceremonies. The brilliant red, white, and black cloths portray events from the Mother Goddess tradition. Her depiction as the central and by far the largest representation, as well as the Hindu God Ganesh, distinctively identifies these religious cloths. Since the cloths need to be dried in the sun to set their colors after they are block printed and painted, work on them traditionally was done, literally, on the sidewalks of Ahmedabad, the largest city in Gujarat. Joan Erikson in 1968 published “Mata Ni Pachedi” on these religious textiles as part of work she undertook at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad. In 1984 Katherine F. Hacker and Krista Jensen Turnbull included Mata Ni Pachedi in the exhibition “Courtyard, Bazaar, Temple: Traditions of Textile Expression in India” they organized at the Costume and Textile Study Center of the University of Washington. Western knowledge of this distinctive folk religious textile seemed established. Yet Beverly Gordon’s 2011 Textiles: the whole story: uses, meanings, significance on pages 260-1 contains two illustrations showing that the iconography and colors of Mata Ni Pachedi have been completely and totally transformed. The distinctive red, white, and black palette has been enriched by additional colors, the folk depictions of the life of the Goddess have been completely changed, a completely new religious/artistic sensibility has evolved. This paper investigates the earlier tradition and its contemporary re-incarnation.