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To Sikh or not to Sikh: In Defense of the Sikh Kashmir Shawl – Annual Meeting

Frank Ames

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

In Person, Salmagundi Club, at 6pm ET


In the first half of the 19th century, the Sikhs took control of India’s Punjab and Kashmir. Within a few years, the classical, time honored patterns found on the Kashmir shawl underwent a truly dramatic change. The shawl quickly absorbed and created design ideas stemming from the Punjab’s Sikh culture. These designs had a lasting impact on rugs, textiles and other crafts worldwide not to mention an eerie foreshadowing of the Art Déco movement.

Some historians feel that these designs came from European sources. This talk will prove them wrong.

My talk will be based on a chapter in my new book to be published by Roli Publishers, this Fall.

Frank Ames is a textile expert with over 45 years of experience as an independent dealer, curator, scholar and writer, specializing in antique textiles with a particular emphasis on Indian/European Kashmir shawls. As a Parisian resident for many years, he refined his expertise by organizing specialized auctions at Drouot. Ames is renowned for his two seminal books on the subject shawls: The Kashmir Shawl and its Indo-French Influence (1997); and Woven Masterpieces of Sikh Heritage (2010), which have brought him often in close liaison with private collectors, museums, and institutions worldwide. He has authored articles for publications such as HALI, Textiles Asia, Orientations Magazine, and Sikh Formations, and curated the esteemed “The Arts of Kashmir” exhibition at the Asia Society in 2008. Based on the Upper West Side, New York—when not at his winter home in Goa, India. Ames is currently working on his third book, scheduled to be released this summer.