June 01, 2020

Bookish. - 2 - Issue 20

Bookish by amirisu

Patterns of India - A Journey Through Colors, Textiles & The Vibrancy of Rajasthan

Published in 2020 by Clarkson Potter, Publishers.

288 pages. $30.00

ISBN: 978-0525577096

Bookish by amirisu

The author, Christine Chitnis lives in Providence, RI, and is my friend's neighbor. We were introduced when I visited, and immediately liked each other, keeping in touch through Instagram ever since.

While contributing to magazines and other media as a photographer and writer, Christine and her husband raise three beautiful children. Her life is filled with creativity and love, and sometimes, knitting. When I heard she was publishing a book with her photographs taken in India, I immediately considered this book review.

Her husband is from an Indian family but grew up in Canada, without being exposed to his Indian heritage. When he became an adult, he moved to India and studied the cultures and languages for many years. He then moved to the States, where Christine met him. In order for their children to be exposed to Indian cultures, they spend time in the country every year, traveling and sightseeing, and enjoying living a normal life there.

This book is a collection of beautiful photographs of the Rajasthan region that Christine has taken over the years. The northwestern region of Rajasthan is one of the areas that still maintains a rich textile heritage in India. It is also one of the prominent sightseeing destinations in India, including Jaipur, the beautiful pink state capital, and Jodhpur which is called the blue city. Through photos and essays, she showcases patterns, textiles, architectural details, colors and how people enjoy colors in their lives.

Chapters are by colors: Sandstone, Marigold, Rose, Ivory and Royal Blue. The Sandstone chapter introduces architectural details made in sandstones and block printing, while the Marigold chapter showcases markets in India. The Rose chapter features textiles and traditional clothing in this region, and the Ivory talks about the fabric that Indians love the most, cotton, and buildings in ivory. In the final chapter indigo-dyed textiles and blue architecture are explored.

Every page is beautiful. Layers and layers of bright colors and details blow the mind. The scenery and colors are so gorgeous that they almost make our life feel colorless and dull. Christine also talks about the meanings of colors in Indian culture and how the colors are used as symbols, such as ivory being a color of mourning which is why the temples are white.

It is amazing how the Indian cities are so diverse, in different colors, including pink, blue, white (Udaipur), and gold (Jaisalmer), while in Japan all cities look pretty much the same. A friend of mine from India who has traveled quite widely once told me "I have seen quite a lot but India still may be the most beautiful place." This immediately made me put India on my life list. This book may have just pushed it to the top of the list.

All of us around the world feel a bit claustrophobic right now, but if you flip through pages on Patterns of India, you can forget about being stuck. You'll be fascinated by the mesmerizing colors, tossed by humid Indian wind, and feel like you have just traveled to this southern land.

Christine's book is also a great resource and inspiration for textile design. I highly recommend it for yourself, and as a gift for your creative friends.

Reprinted with permission from Patterns of India, by Christine Chitnis, copyright © 2020. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.