Woman's head covering (Odtini), 20th century; cotton, embroidery, gift of Richard L. Simmons in memory of Roberta Grodberg Simmons
Saturday, October 27, 2007Sunday, November 16, 2008
For modesty's sake, women throughout much of the Indian subcontinent traditionally have covered their heads and shoulders with shawls or veils. In public, the feminine ideal has been fully covered and quiet. But the veils themselves were another matter. They told stories.
Through pattern and color, material and workmanship, a veil might speak of geographic origin, tribal affiliation, economic standing, and marital status. It might tell the season and social occasion, or provide talismanic protection. And sometimes, a veil can express personal whimsy. Always a flag of identity, these pieces of cloth have continued to reveal as much as they conceal.
Representing almost a century of collecting, "Veiled Communications," guest-curated by Jeffrey Hess, assembles two dozen superb head coverings from India and Pakistan, reflecting the region's diverse textile traditions of dyeing, embroidering, printing, and weaving.