Designer Wendell Rodricks is showcasing rare objects that in many ways speaks about the history of Goa at Serendipity Arts Festival titled ‘Ten Histories: Goan Costume.’ He speaks about this collection and why the Kunbi saree defines Goa in many ways
The time is ripe for the recounting of Goan histories, opening a dialogue in Goan heritage and commencing a narrative about the rich legacy of Goa beyond its beaches and the famed natural beauty of a splendid land.
A majority of tourists that visit Goa are as astounded to hear stories from the hinterland as some Goans who imagine that Goan costume history begins and ends with the Portuguese.
Award winning fashion designer Wendell Rodricks, author of ‘Moda Goa: History and Style’ and ‘The Green Room’, is presently working on converting his heritage home into The Moda Goa Museum in his native village of Colvale. In a pioneering curatorial presentation, he brings to the Serendipity Arts Festival 2016 ten objects related to Goan costume that are not mere museum objects. Each has a story worth recounting. It is a history about Goan mythology, Gods, people, customs, traditions, festivals and folklore. In a setting inspired from graffiti painted walls of religious sanctums, palatial manors and humble homes, the lacy effect of the Goan graffiti painting set the ambience of ‘Ten Histories: Goan Costume’.
Apart from the sole photograph of the prehistoric engraved laterite rock, the objects are part of a sixteen year collection that represent a minuscule part of what the Moda Goa Museum in Colvale will display when it opens in late 2018.
This collection is an attempt to reveal Goan histories pertaining to costume. But it is also a door to open a dialogue with the viewer.
Speaking about the collection, Wendell says: “To select ‘Ten Histories: Goan Costume’, I looked back at the various literature festivals that I was invited to speak at. I recall distinctly Shilpa Shah, owner of Graden Vareli and The Tapti Museum telling me after I spoke at the book release of ‘Scared Textiles of India’ (in which I have a chapter on the sacred cloths of Goa) that she was fascinated by the story of Shantadurga appearing in dreams and asking for ‘mangnechem’ of a child house or a sari. I have woven that narrative into one of the objects which is a sari from the Shantadurga temple. In a similar vein, I went to the history of the prehistoric Mother Goddess, the rarely spoken about Buddhist period in Goa, the art of the ‘Chamars’ to make sandals, the Pano Bhaju origin and other such stories. For some vitrines we had to recreate the objects. The leather zottim sandals, for example, are rarely seen in market nor on people’s feet. Not many Goans have ever seen the ‘Chabedeo’ sandals made from the Kumbyo tree bark. I have also ensured that the setting is Goan using graffiti stencilling on the walls done by Nixon Fernandes. ‘Ten Histories: Goan Costume’ is an exhibition that will begin a dialogue on Goan costume history. It is also a prelude to what will be eventually The Moda Goa Museum in Colvale.”
When asked which object according to him defines Goa, he says: “If I had to pick one object that defines Goa, it is the Kunbi Sari. In that vitrine we have the original Kunbi saris on loan from advocate John Fernandes and my revival Kunbi sari. Both totally different but unique to Goa. For me the Kunbi sari is typically Goan and defines the essence of our textile heritage. It also goes back to the tribes of Goa and takes us back to what we were as a people. Simple hill dwellers living a charming life close to nature.”
(The Serendipity Arts Festival 2016 and Wendell Rodricks’ ‘Ten Histories: Goan Costume’ opens on December 16 at The Old Secretariat, Adil Shah Palace, Panaji. The Navhind Times is the media partner of The Serendipity Arts Festival. To access the festival calendar and for registration, visit www.serendipityartsfestival.com.)