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Colour and Light: Embroidery from India and Pakistan

Start Date 1 January 2007
End Date 8 July 2007
Venue Textile Museum of Canada
Location Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Curator Dale Gluckman
Exhibition display of dress hung in front of textile panel against blue wall
exhibition display of dress suspended from ceiling , textile panels hung against yellow painted walls

South Asia has long been famed for the beauty and diversity of its decoratively stitched cloth. Embroidery served – and to a large extent still serves – multiple functions in daily and religious life. Embellished textiles are components of clothing; they decorate tents, homes, palaces, mosques and temples; cover animals, and; serve as articles of daily use. The 2007 exhibition, Colour & Light: Embroidery from India and Pakistan shows the extraordinary stylistic diversity apparent in the wide range of colours, patterns and imagery of South Asian textiles.

Historically, embroidered textiles reflected the wealth and influence of rulers, courtiers, and favoured courtesans. Among South Asia’s many peoples, these textiles frequently identified family origins, personal status or religious affiliation. With the increasing availability of imported and machine-made goods, urbanization and changes in patterns of traditional life, some types of embroidery have all but disappeared; others survive, albeit in new forms, or have been revived to keep handwork alive.