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MASON, Darielle (ed; 2016). Phulkari: The Embroidered Textiles of Punjab from the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Collection, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, with the Philadelphia Museum of Art. ISBN: 978-0-300-22590-7, hardback, 96 pp., full colour, bibliography, numerous footnotes. Price: US$ 25 (varies in price).

In March 2016 the Philadelphia Museum of Art opened an exhibition about embroidered textiles from India. More specifically they showed silk phulkari, which come from the Punjab, in northern central India and eastern Pakistan. The textiles date from the mid-19th century until the Partition of India in 1947. In addition, the exhibition includes modern examples of phulkari that show recent developments. In 2009 the Museum also held an exhibition called Kantha: The Embroidered Quilts of Bengal from the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Collection, while this is a follow-up exhibition featuring phulkari from the same collection. Both exhibitions were create to celebrate the donation of many Bonovitz pieces to the museum. The phulkari catalogue is divided into four main sections, (1) a history of the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Collection, (2) The symbolic meanings and uses of Punjabi phulkaris, (3) a catalogue of the Bonovitz phulkari collection on display, and (4) identify and transformation of the politics of embroidery in South Asia. These chapters are written by Danielle Mason and Cristin McKnight.

Recommendation: Another good book to have in a library about Indian textiles and embroideries in particular. The illustrations are exceptional as can be expected from the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, November 2017


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