To Buy....... Or Not to Buy


When contemplating the purchase of a painting, the bottom line is whether the individual painting appeals to you. If it does, & you can get it for a reasonable price then buy it. Art appreciation is a personal thing. For those wishing to be more scientific in choosing, here are some points indicative of high-quality artwork.

The Base Material: Paintings executed on handmade paper are generally of superior quality. To differentiate handmade paper from its ordinary counterpart, the surface of handmade paper is comparatively rough and appears old whereas machine-produced paper is smoother and shinier.
Natural Colour: There are normally six natural (original) colours used nowadays. These are indigo (purple)/ iron oxide (red)/ ochre (dusky yellow)/ zinc (white)/ carbon (black)/ raw sienna (yellow-tan). Others such as those derived from Malachite and Lapis have become too costly & difficult to produce.
Details: Figures anatomically correct and attention to other details such as flowers, leaves, feathers and architecture.
Background: Shading and outlines of the painting should be clear.
Facial Expression & Balance: These details should be good, clear and attractive.
Number of Figures: Several finely formed miniature figures in a small area imply skill.
Overall: Range and use of colour. The application of gold or silver is a sign of good quality. Blocks of plain colour, when used exclusively, usually denote low quality.

Information kindly provided by Sachin,
Painting House, 60 Bhattiyani Chohtta
Tel: 525728



Pashmina has quite recently gained huge popularity in the West. It can be rather expensive, yet the majority of those who demand and are willing to pay for it know very little about it.
Pashmina comes from the high mountains of the Ladakh Range in Kashmir, or from Tibet and the hair is that of a mountain goat known as an Ibex. Fine hair from neck & chest of the animal gets left in wisps on bushes and it is this that is collected. Pashmina can be dyed any colour but most favoured are the natural colours. The spinning is carried out on a traditional spinning wheel & then woven on a handloom.

You can expect to pay in the region of Rs.6000 - 7000 for a plain Pashmina shawl, though embroidered pieces will cost an additional Rs.1000 - 5000, depending on the intricacy & skill of the work. It is unlikely that a genuine Pashmina shawl will be significantly cheaper.

Pashmina wool is undoubtedly very soft, but caution is needed when buying, as there are some good quality substitutes that can be just as soft and very similar in looks and texture, but valued at around 10% of the price. If you merely want a warm, attractive shawl then you may be content with the substitute item, provided of course, that you are paying the lesser price for it.

NOTE : One small tip is that 100% genuine Pashmina doesn't wrinkle after being scrunched into a ball. However, it takes an expert to recognise real Pashmina, so don't assume that you can tell what you're getting just by feeling it or trying to pass a shawl through a ring or whatever! You must ask for a certificate of authenticity when buying a supposedly 100% Pashmina product.

Information kindly provided by Latif,
Insha Craft Inn, 142 Bhattiyani Chohtta
Tel: 411591



There's a somewhat bemusing variety of silk, and of course there are materials that seem silky and sometimes passed off as silk, that are not pure silk. Let's take a look at some varieties of silk and their uses.

Wild Silk
Fairly soft & lightweight with a close, uniform weave, this silk has a matt finish and is rather unexciting when compared to other silks. It is suitable for blouses but because is difficult to stitch, tailors don't like working with it.

Leather Silk
Has a satin finish on the reverse side but the face has that almost damp feel, very much like chamois leather, and is similar in appearance. Leather silk is of medium weight & wears well as it doesn't crumple or crease. It is an interesting fabric for jackets, skirts etc..

Natural (Chinese) Silk
A very lightweight, fine, soft, closely woven silk that is available in a variety of bright colours. New natural silk has a sheen, though this will gradually disappear with use. Favoured for scarves, blouses & shirts.

Rose (Bangalore) Silk
This type of silk has a close weave with a straight, slightly rough, uneven grain. It bears a faint sheen and is of medium weight. Available in very attractive colours, it is favoured for shirts, blouses and dresses, even though it does have a tendency to crease.

Khadi Silk
Khadi silk is medium to heavy weight & has a texture that varies from sample to sample; from slightly coarse to almost as coarse as jute! It is known for its loose weave and pronounced straight grain, the lines of which vary slightly in their tone, shade or colour. Usually found in natural shades, Khadi silk is an attractive, somewhat rustic fabric suitable for jackets (if lined), or shirts.

Benares Silk
A soft, lightweight, closely woven material with a matt finish. Benares silk is often patterned & brightly coloured. It is popular as dress or blouse fabric.

Matka Silk
Another coarse, rather loosely woven, medium to heavy weight silk with a matt finish. It softens somewhat with washing and is suitable for jackets, as long as it is lined. It is generally available in natural colours.

Chiffon Silk
Very lightweight and floaty with a slightly rough, crape feel. Chiffon is somewhat transparent, comes in a variety of colours and patterns and is very feminine. It has a matt finish and is a classic fabric for blouses and dresses as well as scarves.

NOTE : To test for pure silk, burn a thread. If it is pure it will be reduced to ash & should not melt or bobble. The smell of burning silk varies, but Khadi & Bangalore silk are the only two that really smell of singed hair. When purchasing silk, ask about the laundering. The rule-of-thumb is to have it dry-cleaned the first time. Subsequently it can generally be washed in cold water, though it is always advisable to dry-clean a jacket.

Information kindly provided by Hemant,
Silk Palace, Opp. Ghas Ghar, Near Lake Palace Main Gate
Tel:98290 05635

I hope this information will help you to shop with greater confidence !

Compiled by Piers     
(Out and About Udaipur)


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