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    The TAPI Collection

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    Articles are written collaboratively by the EIA editors. More information on our team, their individual bios, and our approach to writing can be found on our About pages. We also welcome feedback and all articles include a bibliography (see below).

    A collection of textiles and art from India, The Art and People of India (TAPI) Collection was established by Praful and Shilpa Shah.

    The collection began with Praful Shah working towards establishing a textile design studio and printery at the family-owned Garden Silk Mills, Surat. The couple first began researching the paisley design and its interpretation in printed textile, which led them to Kashmir shawls. Consequently, in the 1980s, they began acquiring Kani shawls and dorukha shawls. Today, the collection has expanded to include Punjabi shawls dating from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century, fragments of textiles featuring Mughal motifs, Baluchari sarees, pichwais, patolas from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, embroidered Persian textiles and other important folk and religious textiles. The collection also includes heirloom trade textiles such as fifteenth and sixteenth century hand-drawn mordant and resist-dyed textiles from Gujarat that were exported to Sulawesi, Indonesia, early Kalamkari textiles exported to Thailand and chintz exported to the European market. In addition to textiles, TAPI has an extensive collection of Indian art, including Mughal miniatures and Company paintings.

    TAPI periodically organises exhibitions in museums and institutions such as the National Museum, New Delhi; Birla Academy of Fine Art, Kolkata; Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai; and The Art Institute of Chicago. TAPI also publishes books about objects in the collection, with essays by textile and art history scholars such as Rosemary Crill, BN Goswamy and JP Lostly.

    Since 2017, the collection has been located between two galleries in Surat, which visitors and researchers can visit on appointment.


    ​​​​Avari, Nishad. “The TAPI Collection of Indian Textiles: An Interview with Shilpa Shah.” State of the Art: The Saffronart Blog, November 27, 2012.

    DNA. ​​“The Passion and the Prize,” November 19, 2005.

    Gehi, Reema. “Shilpa and Praful Shah Have Devoted Their Life to Hand-crafted Textiles and Art that Tell the India Story.” Mumbai Mirror, January 13, 2019.

    Shah, Praful, and Shilpa Shah. “Collectors’ Note.” Kashmir Shawls: The TAPI Collection, edited by Steven Cohen, Rosemary Crill, Monique Levi-Strauss and Jeff Spurr. Mumbai: The Shoestring Publisher, 2012.

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