Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


Jali Good

[Detail view: Jali from Delhi-Agra, Jahangir period, c. 1605–27. Included in Francesca Galloway's exhibition, Red Stone.]

Not to propagate gender stereotypes, but in school I was a real math-a-phobe. Except in geometry class. Geometry I didn't dislike, and if my text books had been illustrated with Mughal-style jalis, I might have seriously embraced the subject.

With their symmetrically interlocking circles, squares, hexagons, octagons, and eight-pointed stars filtering the sun's rays, carved jalis have great allure. If you've been inspired by the pierced jalis Doris Duke commissioned in the 1930s, or maybe by the patterns in Matisse's collection of North African haitis, you'll want to see Francesca Galloway's new exhibition, Red Stone, on view through November 9. Although the show is in London, Galloway has published a beautifully illustrated 65-page catalogue devoted entirely to these perforated screens. George Mitchell contributes text.

[Detail view: Jali with squares linked by diagonals with eight-petalled flowers in each square. Mughal, Shah Jahan–Aurangzeb period, c. 1628–1707. Also from Red Stone.]

The featured jalis come from a private English collection, previously located in a Someret country house. Mitchell writes that while architectural screens are certainly found elsewhere throughout art history, Mughal Indian artisans crafted unparalleled perforated stone examples with "kaleidoscopic patterns."

[18th-century wentke, or woman's gown. Indian chintz from the Coromandel Coast. Mordant-dyed cotton with Dutch weft-patterned edging. Francesca Galloway.]

While you're visiting Galloway's site, don't forget her spectacular textile collection.

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