Suraiya Hasan Bose

Art history/ Historiography, Interviews, Conversations

Suraiya Hasan Bose: The Loom as Ideology

Singh, Radhika

To locate Suraiya’s shop in Hyderabad is easy since it shares the same address as the Safrani Memorial School on the road to Dargah Hussain Shah Wali, at the Qutab Shahi Tombs. But once you turn into her green gate you enter a magical space, where searching for Suraiya Hassan Bose becomes an adventure. Enclosed in a wash of green trees, flowering bushes and exotic plants, you could walk into a porch leading to a large hall stacked from floor to ceiling with fabric. Soft Mangalgiri stripes share shelf-space with Kalamkari wall hangings, Vengatgiri saris lie folded on Kanchanpally durries, Ikat bedspreads rubshoulders with Paithani borders and Telia Rumals. If you are lucky you might spot a sample collection of Himru pieces lying on the desk in front of Zeenath. ‘Adab’, a cheerful greeting elicits a question from you, ‘Suraiya apa?’ ‘No, she may be in the weaving center’, you are told, ‘would you like to look for her?’ So you step out again into dappled sunlight and turn the corner into a curtain of Halaconia, the false bird of paradise flowers that compel you to reach out and touch them. Yes, they are real, too perfect to pass without admiration. Outstretched giant palms lead you to another flat roofed shed where the ancient sound of pedals and shuttling spindles transport you into a world of multiple looms, and women in close companionship with interlaced skeins of coloured thread. The lone master weaver, Syed Omar, his hands full of ‘jaala’ tells you that Suraiya apa has just stepped out. To the school, maybe? Its admission week, so she may be required there. Shob...
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