Popular for its art and embroidery, a little town called Chamba is located in the hills of Himachal Pradesh. The small yet graceful settlement of mountain dwellers gave birth to an intricate form of needlework known as the Chamba Rumal. This unique craft involves doing embroidery on a hand spun cloth with untwisted silken thread, which is greatly inspired from pahari painting.
The cloth employed for the embroidery was generally unbleached muslin or khaddar. Women of the royal house or the wife of the nobles used to embroider the well composed rumal in their leisure hours as a pastime activity.
Gifting embroidered rumals at a girl’s wedding was customary in the hills and valleys of Himachal Pradesh. The most common subjects used as inspirations for the embroidery were, wedding scenes. This handicraft, being an important item of the dowry, was dependent on weddings for its existence. No marriage ceremony would be reckoned complete without the gift of Chamba rumal by the relatives of the bride.
It was considered an additional merit if the brides were well versed in the craft of embroidery. The rumals were adorned by men and women alike. People of every class produced these rumals and hung them proudly across their shoulders. Those belonging to the elite classes preferred more intricate, complex and beautiful designs.
Craft production process
The process of creating a Chamba Rumal involves the following steps:
The stitch used in embroidering the Chamba Rumal is the do-rukha , a double – satin stitch , which as the name implies, can be viewed from two (do) sides or aspects (rukh). The stitch is carried both backward and forward and covers both sides of the cloth, giving it a smooth finish that makes it look like a miniature painting! No knots are visible, and the embroidered rumal can be viewed from both sides, making it reversible.
Chamba Rumal is now a languishing craft in India.This rare blend of painting and embroidery is witnessing a drop in the craftsmen mainly because of lack of resources and appreciation. Wider public recognition of the worth of this craft is the need of the hour.
If you would like to purchase a Chamba rumal, you can visit http://www.himcrafts.com/product.aspx?id=8