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The Patterned World

Pattern

Banner Zoomify

Pattern is a concept that can be represented in a wide variety of physical forms such as a visual image; a sound, music or song; a cycle in time, or; a repeated ritual. Elements of the natural world are built on patterned structures, including the cells of our own bodies. Humans make patterns because we live in a world that is teeming with them.

About the Object

Object name: Banner (ma’a)
Place made: Gujarat, India
Date made: 1400-1600
Dimensions: 500 x 98 cm
Materials & Techniques: Cotton, woven, resist-dyed, block-printed
Credit line: From the Opekar / Webster Collection
ID: T94.0825

The dancing figures in this banner are rendered in the style of 16th century Jain temple paintings. The banner was made in India, a centre for the production of dyed cotton called chintz. This one was made for export to Sulawesi, Indonesia, where people once exchanged precious spices to acquire such Indian-printed cotton.

Alternative Views

Front Detail

Front Detail

Front

Front

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Second Look

Macro

Macro

Macro

Macro

Macro

Macro

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Touchpoint View

Animation

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Video

Dance as Patterned Art

Watch a classical Indian dance by Hari Krishnan and InDance

Credit: Video courtesy of inDance. www.indance.ca

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Slide Show

Biomimicry

By way of careful study, human beings have always attempted to imitate the shapes and mechanisms of nature. On this banner, the dancers are clothed in a riot of chintz, while the elephants’ patterns mimic the pattern of their own skin. Biomimicry is a discipline created by modern scientists that seeks ways to copy natural processes. One example is the imitation of the spinneret, a duct used by certain creatures to extrude thread, such as a spider’s web or a silkworm’s reel of silk. Industrial processes exist today that can extrude liquid polymers and then harden them into threads to produce synthetic fibres, much like a spinneret.

Spider Spinneret

Biomimicry

Image title: Spider Spinneret
Credit: Image Courtesy of Dennis Kunkel Microscopy, Inc.

Mechanical Spinneret

Biomimicry

Image title: Mechanical Spinneret
Credit: Drawing by Amber Yared

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Artifact Narrative

Chintz

Until the 16th century, Persian and Arab traders controlled the spice trade. The major European powers desperately wanted spices, but their gold was unappealing to the spice-producing countries in Southeast Asia. Europeans eventually discovered they could use their gold to buy painted and printed Indian cottons, and exchange them for spices. They also realized that vibrant Indian cottons were highly valued in Europe, where attempts to permanently colour cotton fabrics had, so far, failed. Indian textile makers used metal salts to adhere natural dyes to cloth: a method that produced bright, fast colours on cotton long before chemical dyes were invented in the mid-19th century.

Cover

Cover (kalamkari)

Place made: Andhra Pradesh, India
Date made: 1900 - 1920
Dimensions: 108.5 x 100.5 cm
Materials & Techniques: Cotton, woven, block printed (lining roller printed)
Credits: Gift of Doris Dohrenwend
ID: T2000.8.3

Collection Connections

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Jacket

Jacket

ID*: T92.0318

Cloth fragment

Cloth fragment

ID*: T99.23.1A

Hanging

Hanging

ID*: T86.0316