Kashmiri Shawls: A Lifetime of Collecting

April 16 – June 1, 2024
Opening reception:  Thursday, May 2, 5:30 – 7 pm

Featuring pieces from the collection of Satwant Bhatia, courtesy of Anju Kataria and Khazana Gallery, Minneapolis

Experience this stunning collection of Kashmiri shawls, woven of cashmere (from cashmere goats), pashmina (the finest fibers from the Himalayan Mountain Goat, a type of cashmere goat), and shatoosh (from the Chiru, or Tibetan Antelope, currently an endangered species). The distinctive elements of a Kashmiri shawl are its warmth, lightness, and signature boteh design, of Persian origin. Called buta in India, this motif was based on a flowering plant and developed throughout over 300 years of time during which the Kashmir region was successively ruled by the Mughals, the Afghans, the Sikhs, and the Dogras. Changes in these shawls followed this development.

The shawls presented are part of a collection that dates back to 150 years old, including Satwant Bhatia’s first shawl. They were selected for their exquisite workmanship and breadth of technique: hand embroidery in silk or cotton- Sozni; double sided fabrics- Dotarfa; Jamawar- a weave structure similar to a tapestry-style of motif building that is integral to the fabric’s structure and not brocade or supplemental weft; meticulously mended Rafu work on jacquard-loomed pieces; and superb Tilla embroidery in gold and silver threads.

A bibliography of resources in our library chronicles the evolution of these shawls and the appropriation of their style and design by European textile manufacturers in the production of the Paisley shawl of Scotland and the “oriental style” of French and Belgian shawls, which developed to serve the demands of luxury and status in European society.

With heartfelt thanks to Satwant Bhatia and Anju Kataria of Khazana for lending this work, and to Shreya Oza for her assistance in installing and creating written content for the exhibit.