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Chamba Rumals

By Narender Singh Sandhu

The description of Pahari painting and cultural heritage of the Himalayas will remain incomplete, if no mention is made to the ‘Chamba Rumal’. In fact, Chamba Rumal is a generic name for a particular type of embroidery done on cloth pieces by household women in different parts of the state and the Jammu region as well. Painting was as much an art as it was a fashion. So how could then women folk lag behind who emulated the male skill with brush and translated it into embroidery. Sooner cloth substituted the paper; the needle the brush and threads the colors and pigments. The name ‘Rumal’ means handkerchief. But were not used to be kept in pocket. Generally meant for converting the gifts placed on metal and bamboo trays and baskets on any special occasion such as birthday, wedding, festival or fair. Raja Gopal Singh of Chamba presented one of the finest specimens of this art depicting the battle of Kurukshetra to the British Resident in the 19th century and it is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The end of the 19th century saw the decline in the style of Chamba Rumal embroidery. Dr. J.P. Vogal and Raja Sir Bhuri Singh had created a renewed interest in this craft.