A rumal is a large square or rectangular piece of muslin or khaddar, embroidered with brilliant colours, which were generally used as covers for offerings to deities or gifts exchanged at weddings and festive occasions. Many miniature paintings depict women going to the temple carrying offering trays covered with such rumals. Sometimes, rumals are also used as pichhavais in temples. These were embroidered by women, including those of the royal household, during their spare time.
The Chamba rumals are distinguishable not only by their technique of embroidery but more so by their complicated designs, incorporating several human figures. The subject matter of these embroideries was mainly epic stories, legends of the Devi, Radha-Krishna, shikaar scenes as well as life in court.
This rumal depicts a king enjoying a music party. The pattern outlines were drawn on the surface with fine charcoal. In palaces and royal houses, the work was entrusted to the painters of the atelier — leaving a remarkable influence of the Pahari miniature painting on the Chamba-embroidered rumals. The outlines of patterns were then filled with black silk thread in stem stitches. After this, untwisted silk threads in bright colours were used in satin stitches.
Textiles and Costumes of India
Cloth Embroidered cloth
Cotton embroidered with silk
Late 18th Century CE
Chamba, Himachal Pradesh
88.5 x 92 cms