QUITE unlike the pichhavai of figurative paintings used by Vaishnavas to decorate their shrines, the Jains seem to have preferred rich jari embroidery work to provide background to the images of their Tirthankaras. Even today, many small and big embroidered rectangular wall-hangings used as a backdrop and canopy over the image, known as the Chod and the Chandaravo respectively, are ordered by Jains in large numbers, particularly for the celebration at the end of the 40th day fast during Paryushana. It is possible that originally as the name indicates, the backdrop illustrated a small tree (chod) symbolising the tree under which the Tirthankara attained enlightenment.
Jari embroidery was a much-developed craft and there are about thirteen different varieties of material used for this kind of embroidery, which was generally done on velvet or on heavy silk. These materials are known as Surma, Jhik, Tiki, Tas, Tui, Badla, Kasab and Kangani. They are made out of wire or flat strips of silver. The craftsmen of Ahmedabad and Surat were particularly known for this embroidery and the Jain temples partronised them. The jari embroidery of Gujarat was famous even in the 13th century as noted by Marco Polo.
A rectangular wall hanging with crimson satin ground is finely embroidered in various kinds of silk and gilt materials of different types used in jari embroidery. A wall piece is imagined as a niche enclosed between two half pillars with bell and cushion-shape base and similar capital on either side, supporting beautiful arches on top. The sun and moon are prominently placed in two top corners while elegant peacocks flank the flower decoration in the centre. The ground is covered by a jal of lozenges with a flower in each, creating a rich brocade effect. The borders are decorated with floral motifs and a winding creeper whereas the four corners have big eight-petalled flowers on a red background. The museum also has in its collection, the Chandarvo or a square a canopy, of the same material and design to match this wall-hanging.
Textiles and Costumes of India
Silk, Jari embroidery and Badla
19th century CE
Probably Surat, Gujarat
147.5 x 84.8 cms.