KHETA: An Exhibition Of Embroidery Showcasing Specialties Of Shershabadi Women

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KHETA

A Cultural Expression Of Migrant Community Of Muslims Seeking GI Status For Reversible Embroidered Quilt

To Be Held At National Crafts Museum & Hastkala Academy

4th March 2022 -3rd April 2022

New Delhi, 20, February 2022 – KHETA, an exhibition of embroidery, of the lesser-known reversible quilts, done by Shershabadi women from Kishanganj district of Bihar, will be held at the National Crafts Museum & Hastkala Academy, Bhairon Marg, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi from 4th March 2022 -3rd April 2022, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Kheta is the cultural identity and embroidered expression of the migrant community of Muslims known as Shershabadi. The exhibition of embroidered (quilted) products in textile gallery of Crafts Museum will have a live display of the craft by Shershabadi women, workshops for educational Institutions to learn the craft, Expert Talk(s), Film screening/Audio visual sessions providing insights into the Shershabadi community and culture as well as sale of Kheta Products from the Museum Shop.

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The key objectives of the exhibition are:

  • Establishing Kheta as a unique embroidery and cultural identity of Shershabadi community, paving way for getting Geographical Indication (GI status)
  • Using Kheta textile as evidence of Shershabadi migration from Bangladesh to Bihar thus tracing linkages between Bangladesh and India
  • Documenting and showcasing maximum number of Kheta pattern (many not in practice anymore)
  • Encouraging economic empowerment through skill practice and conservation in the villages
  • Showcasing a lesser-known craft to a larger audience

The sole aim of the exhibition is to showcase the genius of these women artisans that is being organised by Zameen Astar Foundation (ZAF) and Azad India Foundation (AIF) in partnership with Crafts Museum, New Delhi. The Indian Institute of Art and Design (IIAD) is the academic partner.

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In the last 4 years, both ZAF and AIF have researched, documented and presented on Kheta. The extensive work being done with these Shershabadi women artisans, has the potential of having an international presence as well as fuelling grassroot level entrepreneurial ventures.

Initially settled in the land given by Emperor Sher Shah Suri (who ruled from 1486 to 1545 A.D) in Malda district of Bangladesh, the Shershabadi community has migrated along the rivers and have settled in the Kishanganj and neighbouring districts of Bihar and Bengal in India.

Even though a practicing craft in the remote villages of Kishanganj, Kheta has largely remained undocumented in the family of recycled quilts from the Eastern part of India like Sujanis and Kanthas. In its intricate geometric patterning, Kheta stands out as a contemporary expression to the modern world. Zameen Astar Foundation (ZAF) and Azad India Foundation (AIF) have been instrumental in getting government, national and international attention to these most exquisite embroideries.

Delicate yet densely patterned with vibrant colors, the Kheta embroidery is a kind of quilting (the art of stitching layers of fabrics) that has survived the onslaught of time and shares similar origin with other recycled quilting techniques, “Kantha” of Bengal and “Sujni” of Bihar.

Over the years, however, the Shershabadi community has developed their unique quilting technique of pure geometrical motifs, avoiding figurative depictions of Sujni and circular patterns of kantha. Generally used as a blanket for newborn children or a mattress for the newlywed couple, Kheta is every bit a work of priceless art as it is a designed finished product for daily use.

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