Can an embroidered fabric look alike from both the sides? Ya, Chamba Rumal! It is a distinctive style of embroidery, in which the embroidered motif appears the same from right as well as from the wrong side. Surprisingly, there is no difference between the wrong and right side! It’s the identical on both the faces of fabric!! That is the reason why a rumal (handkerchief) can cost thousands of rupees.

It is famous for transforming the art of Pahari and Kangra paintings of Himachal Pradesh into the intricate embroidery patterns. It is an imitation of paintings of scenes from Ramayana, Mahabharata and other scriptures. The delicate and detailed designs are mesmerising which depicts Krishna Leela and circular Gopis dance with floral motifs on its borders. The wedding scenes and hunting scenes were embroidered. Animals like tigers, boars, horse and rams and birds like peacocks, parrots, swans and ducks were also beautifully embroidered in bright colour scheme. Unusually tree motifs of willow and cypress trees were also embroidered in magnificent colours. A rare design of Chapad game which was played in between Yudhistra and Duryodhan in Mahabharata was depicted in it. It was used to be given as a gift to daughters at the time of their marriage.

It used to be embroidered on white tussar or malmal, cotton cloth. Multicoloured threads like crimson, green, yellow and blue colour threads of pat, untwisted silk were used. Dohara tanka or Double satin stitch was mostly used but sometimes stem stitch was also used to embroider square piece of fabric and rarely rectangular ones. It was used to embellish cushion covers, pillow covers, wall hangings, caps, hand fans etc.

This art is dying a slow death and the revival of this art is the need of the hour!

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Chandrika Shubham Saini

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