Sunday, 22 May 2016

'Krishna in the Gardens of Assam' at the British Museum

There's a nice little exhibition at the British Museum called 'Krishna in the Gardens of Assam' and is all about an Assamese devotional textile called the 'Vrindavani Vastra'. The main exhibit is a 9 metre silk textile made up of 12 inticately woven strips that were sewn together in Tibet and a border was added so the textile could be hung up to be admired. It was given to the British Museum in 1905 by a journalist with The Times but it's not known how he acquired it from a Buddhist monastry in Tibet. It's also not known how it moved from northern India to Tibet in the first place but it's likely that it was used to wrap books or other objects sacred to Krishna and these would have been welcomed in Tibet since Lord Buddha was Indian.

Each of the strips of silk weave depict different tales about Krishna, many reflect his early life asa  cowherd. For those of who can't read the symbols (ie me) there's a series of explanations as you walk along the immesne textile so you can recognise what's going on. Whether he is banishing the king of the serpents or defeating demons he's always got time for enjoyment and the scenes I liked most are of him hiding the clothes of the local girls while they bathe so he can enjoy the sight.

My favourite piece, however, was a most wonderful coat with a silk brocade outside and this amazing cloth used as a lining. It looks to be padded so will be lovely and warm to survive the snows of Tibet. I'm in a definite state of 'want' with this coat.

The exhibition is up on the fourth floor of the Museum and the signage isn't great to find it, but I'm sure you'll enjoy looking for it! There's so much to see in that museum...

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