Documentation and Scientific analysis of selected textile collection of Munshi Aziz Bhat Museum of Central Asia and Kargil Trade Artifacts, India (MABM)

MABM is small privately own public museum located in a small town of Kargil, Ladakh. The museum has a rich textile collection that were acquired during the historical trade between the South and Central Asia via Ladakh. The museum is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the region’s connection to the ancient silk route and to the life of Munshi Aziz Bhat. Munshi Aziz Bhat was born in 1866, he was a silk route trader, social entrepreneur, and collector. The majority of the artifacts exhibited in the museum were discovered under the debris of the Aziz Bhat Sarai, which was built by Munshi Aziz Bhat in 1906 and has been in a dilapidated state for about half a century. The collection is currently displayed on the top floor house of one of the extended family of Munshi Aziz Bhat.
Major part of the museum collection comprises of textile objects, made from silk, wool, velvet and cotton; such as, brocades, colored silk fabric from China, coarse cotton cloth, rugs, wool carpets, felts, hats, embroideries, animal accessory from Central Asia, printed cotton cloths from Russia and from India pashmina shawls from Kashmir and Brocade from Banaras.
The collection is quite significant to the people of Ladakh as it can be a great source to study the material culture and historical development of the textiles in Ladakh. It also throws light on the lucrative historical trade of the 19th and early 20th Century and the cultural heritage of the Ladakhi people.
There are about 100 textile artifacts in the collection. The aim of the project is to focus on the significant textile collection that are in poor state of preservation. The study of the three horse blankets and five hats will be conducted including scientific analysis (fibre analysis) to understand the cultural significance and to implement preventive conservation measures. The project will be carried out in following steps:

  1. Photographic documentation: to have a digital record of the object that will include the detail picture of the motifs, designs and its condition.
  2. Condition Report: to have a written information of the object and its condition, to understand if there is any ongoing deterioration and on basis of that designing an appropriate technique for the display and storage.
  3. Graphic Representation: mapping the extent of the deterioration and the type of damages so that to take measures for the preventive conservation.
  4. Digital microscope to study the weave structure, weave count, fiber twist and any on-going deterioration.
  5. Fibre analysis- samples will be taken to study the fibre for documentation, acquire cultural information, understand the process of degradation, and implementing preventive conservation measures.