‘The Tchatri at Tintoui’…Sketching With Thread and Some Detective Work

One thing that has always entranced me is the illustrations of buildings and places from the India of the nineteenth century. As the British travelled across this vast and fascinating land that they had recently colonised, they made a record of its diverse flora and fauna, its people and its rich architectural heritage. An artist usually travelled with the demographer/geographer/biologist/historian and the final document presented to the world was beautifully illustrated …such intricate drawings, with the minutest details!

Ever since I learnt to sketch with India ink on paper, I wanted to be able to draw like that! (One had those nib pens, that you dipped in bottles of ink and you controlled the width of the stroke by the angle of the nib and the pressure applied!) I never got around to it, but you can see some of my drawings from those days, about 40 years ago, here.

When I started quilting, I wondered if I could replicate those ink drawings with thread. I finally got around to trying it a few days back!

I would start with something not too complicated, I decided. This seemed a good candidate!

I reduced the contrast and brightened the image, till I had an outline of the basic shapes monuments and trees. I then changed the image size to 8″ x 10″ and printed it on printer- ready fabric. Added a 2.5″ wide mitred border in black and prepared the quilt sandwich with thin poly batting.

It was free motion quilted on Hasina, my Topaz 20 ( embroidery needle size 70) using YLI Softtouch thread.

Here are some pictures showing the progress of the quilting!

Thread sketching the chhatri
A close up of the tree
I love the back as much as the front!

I quilted the background with Invisafil smoke.

The background done in Invisafil smoke and the quilting is almost done, bar the finishing touches!

I wondered how it would look if I coloured it lightly, but was scared to ruin it. Then I had a brilliant idea! I flipped the quilt over, and tinted some areas of the back of the quilt with Inktense colour pencils! And added the border with some fancy stitches.

I think I like the back better than the front, but no one seems to agree!

When I flipped it over, I loved the back as much as I liked the front! Or perhaps more!

Now began my search for the monument that had been the inspiration for the wood engraving.

The legend read, ‘Tchatri at Tintoui in Bheel Country’ and I presumed that these would be the chhatris ( pavilions or canopies built over a place where a member of a royal family was cremated) near Udaipur in Rajasthan. The Bheels a proud, warrior tribe have long inhabited the forests near Udaipur. But I wondered about Tintoui.

A search on google maps took me to Tintoi in Gujarat, South of Udaipur, presumably also ‘Bheel Country’ – you can see how the hill forest to the West of Udaipur continued southward to the North of Tintoi.

Now to hunt for a chhatri near/ in Tintoi! Is it possible that Tintoi, now a small village, was earlier the name of a much larger surrounding area? Further research revealed that Sabarkantha District in which Tintoi Village was located also had ancient monuments in a forest area, called the Polo Forest! From there it was easy!

Not only was I on the right track, I also found my pair of chhatris, sadly much worse for wear over the last 140 odd years! But totally recognisable, including the tree with its slanting trunk! The website of Gujrat Tourism provided me the best picture of my chhatris! !But…the chhatris seem to be ‘flipped horizontal’ or a mirror image of the wood engraving! How was that possible? Then it struck me. The original engraving was true to the monument, but when it was printed on paper, a mirror image was created! Check the back of my quilt!

Isn’t that amazing!?

You can imagine how delighted I was. The Polo Forest is definitely on my bucket list of places to visit now!

I leave you with this image of my finished mini quilt. But I will be back soon with another thread sketch, for this is addictive, I tell you!