Zebanda! Fabric Art of India

Contributing Writer

TRADITIONAL ART: A woman in India at work embroidering.


During frequent visits to India to study yoga and jyotish, or Indian astrology, Tulsa resident, L. Beth Field became fascinated with the exquisite hand-embroidered textiles of the country’s different regions, tribes and religions.

This month Living Arts of Tulsa will exhibit a collection of textiles Field hand-picked from the regions of Kutch, in Gujurat, and the state of Rajasthan, areas historically considered to be the cradles for this art. The exhibition, titled Zebanda!, opens August 27 with a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. Living Arts is located at 308 S. Kenosha. The show continues through September 8. Admission is free and the textiles are for sale.

“No two pieces are identical because no two artists conceive patterns in the same way, and the individual artists thrive on making their patterns and their work very personal, even recognizable among groupings of embroideries. The skills are passed on from mother to daughter through countless generations,” explains Field.

Field began importing the textiles over a year ago. In addition to framing the textiles, several have been incorporated into pieces of furniture. Between exhibits at local galleries, the work is displayed at area design centers.

“My encounters with these women, who embroider as part of their daily life, are joyful and exciting. They don’t speak English and I don’t speak their native languages, which can include up to 80 dialects stemming from Hindi. When I’ve had interpreters, I have felt fortunate, but for the most part the interpreters are men, who are not allowed into the homes of the women I visit on buying trips. So my communication with the women often consists of gestures and facial expressions that are no less clear than a spoken word,” says Field.

Field considers the art form one in danger of being lost. “The women live in hand-made homes, raise their families, do all the household work, and still gather to preserve this traditional art of embroidery but their world is rapidly changing. It is a rare pleasure to be able to see and touch their work, each stitch delicately yet intentionally applied to create patterns and textures that delight the eye, the hand and the heart.”

Updated 08-20-2005

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