[Gold bracelet; Tamil Nadu; 19th century. From the Michael C. Carlos Museum exhibition catalog When Gold Blossoms: Indian Jewelry from the Susan L. Beningson Collection.]
What do they always say about Latin root words? Once you learn them, you notice them everywhere and can more easily decipher the meanings of other words? Something like that. The same holds true for patterns in design. Yesterday, I was at the Carlos Museum looking at an incredibly chic and intricate bracelet crafted in 19th-century India. The wall text noted that the gold beauty, now part of the Susan L. Beningson Collection, features a wave, or lahariya pattern (sometimes spelled laharia), and a flat etched clasp with double peacocks.
"Oh, just like the tie-dyed Indian cloth," I thought to myself.
Above is a close view of a circa 1860s turban, or pagri, from Rajasthan via Cora Ginsburg's 2009 catalog. According to the catalog, to prove that a laharia pagri was authentic -- in other words, not simply printed but achieved through a highly-detailed, multi-stepped process involving complex folds, wraps, ties, and skilled handling of dyes -- craftspeople sold the pagri with their ties still in place. To show a client the pattern, an end was usually unraveled.
[Gold rattles for baby Krishna, 18th century, along with other devotional objects, a peacock and small bird. From the exhibition catalog When Gold Blossoms: Indian Jewelry from the Susan L. Beningson Collection.]
The Carlos is a terrific venue for When Gold Blossoms: Indian Jewelry from the Susan L. Beningson Collection because the museum is a bit like a jewel box itself. The galleries are intimate and for this exhibition the walls have been bathed in refreshing citrus shades of orange and kiwi-green -- lovely backdrops for more than 150 pieces encompassing anklets, necklaces, earrings, hair ornaments, ivory combs, and objects made for deities in Hindu temples.
Among my favorites, two gold baby rattles with exquisite open work or jali. Right off the bat, the style reminded me of those jali screens at Doris Duke's Shangri La.
[Doris Duke and James Cromwell by the Jali Pavilion at Shangri La, 1939. Photo by Martin Munkacsi, copyright The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.]
[Marble screen and frame commissioned by Doris Duke while honeymooning in India in 1935. Photo by David Franzen, courtesy of the Doris Duke Foundation.]
Several necklaces in the show combine metal with fabric ties. To some extent those made me think of Alabama Chanin's jewelry, but they also called to mind the loose ties on the slipcover in Michael Smith's bedroom as seen in the May 2010 Elle Decor. His relaxed chair cover is a foil for the grander furniture, particularly the German-silver bed made in Jaipur, India by John Robshaw.
[Michael Smith's master bedroom photographed by Simon Upton and styled by Carolina Irving, Elle Decor May 2010.]
[Detail view, Michael Smith's master bedroom photographed by Simon Upton and styled by Carolina Irving, Elle Decor May 2010.]
[Gold rattles for baby Krishna, 18th century. From the exhibition catalog When Gold Blossoms: Indian Jewelry from the Susan L. Beningson Collection.]
But back to the rattles for baby Krishna. In March I said I was curious to see what designers (interior, textile, fashion, event, jewelry) will take away from the exhibition. And I'll admit the playthings, although intended to be devotional, made my mind drift to a baby shower in a Mughal-inspired garden with vintage Indian textiles used as tablecloths.
The circa 1900 embroidered cloth serving as a backdrop, above, is another Cora Ginsburg find and is way too precious to consider using on a table; I just love the look of it. Also in my fantasy: brass replicas of the birds and rattles to position at the guests' place settings. The baby gifts are from Rikshaw and the hostess could wear the "wave" bracelet.
Now, to really come full circle, I have to mention the June 2010 Elle Decor.
It's the biggest June issue Margaret Russell and her team have ever done, and while devouring the many pages, I noticed all sorts of great tie-dye items. Plus, a Robshaw robe very much inspired by lahariya made the annual summer gift guide.
[All Elle Decor images posted with permission from the magazine.]
There are plenty of dreamy summer (or summer-y) houses too, including Meg Ryan's and the beach digs of Jeffrey Alan Marks and Ross Cassidy. I won't spoil the surprise by posting any peeks at the interiors, but I do want to say congratulations to two designing gentleman who've been good friends to this blog.
Oliver M. Furth (read a past post about Oliver's philanthropy here).
And Grant Gibson. Both men are highlighted along with a host of other fresh talents and celebrated masters. Click here to read Grant's "Three Wishes." Cheers guys!