My romance with lapis lazuli and turquoise (and coral) began very early. My deep-seated obsession for the Egyptian civilization may be held largely responsible for it. Throughout middle school and even later, I fancied I would grow up to be an Egyptologist and lead the most exciting excavations and unearth the most startling archaeological finds ever known to mankind! I had Nefertiti, Tutankhamen, Amenhotep and Cleopatra literally living in lavish “burial chambers” in my head! I even wanted to name my pet dog Isis! Their fabulous palaces, their gods and goddesses, their politics, their awe-inspiring architecture, jewelry, textiles, military tactics, cartography, their daily lives, their social patterns – all of it held me in their spell. I lived and breathed all things Ancient Egyptian. I explained this to myself, sometimes, by saying that I may be a re-born old Egyptian soul in faraway India in the 20th century!
As I grew older and read about the Ottomans and their gilded magnificent world, their refinement in the arts, their mastery of ceramics and rug making, warfare, the harsh terrain they traversed and the adversities they faced in their conquest over distant lands, their untold wealth and sumptuously rich, decadent lifestyles, the exquisite mosques, tombs and palaces they built for themselves and their harems, I was once again drawn into a web of fantasy. It could not be ignored, this pull I felt. I could, in a jiffy, so easily transport myself in my mind’s eye, back to those fabulous times.
But in my fascination for both these historical periods, centuries apart on world history timeline, there ran one common thread. My love for the visual arts. As I would stare and wonder and try to make sense of Egyptian hieroglyphics or the astounding beauty of old Turkish Islamic calligraphy, I was also fascinated by how these three colours seemed to pop up everywhere, time and again. While admiring painted lotuses and water reeds or swooning at the gems embedded in King Tut’s bejeweled crown in Egypt. Or while quenching my thirst for the Turkish artist’s deft brushwork as he masterfully decorated Iznik tiles with carnations, tulips, pomegranates, and arabesque and foliate patterns.
Many years later as a grown woman, I felt a resurgence of this madness for lapis and turquoise. My travels through the Mediterranean had only strengthened my love and curious preoccupation with them. I wished to surround myself with these colours in every way possible. Walls in the house (yes, my poor family suffered that too!), fabrics, ceramics, (of course!) jewelry, art, everything had to be tinged with these colours. My work took me on a longish stint to Hyderabad once and there I found myself a block printer who was willing to translate my lapis-turquoise dream onto the tussar fabric I had carried with me! God bless him!
This sari is the result of that quest. I was overjoyed with my creation. It has been lovingly worn on many occasions, with pride and a stepping into the past, as it were! Each time I wear it, I am wrapped in the fantastic legends of ancient Egypt and the Ottoman Empire.

(Visited 164 times, 1 visits today)