a lost art

Then there is the story of the balaposh. A balaposh is like a shawl which has a layer of cottonwool between two layers of silk. Nothing unusual about that except for the fact that these three layers were only stitched at the edges, yet the cottonwool inside didnít move or lump up. The Mughal monarch Siraj ud Daula had a passion for them.

It is told that in those days he paid upto Rs 5,000 to Rs 6,000 for one balaposh. In todayís terms that would be a sum of about Rs 5 to 6 million. There is also a legend associated with them.

One night, Siraj ud Daula took off the balaposh he had been using and left it on the floor. The next morning, he noticed that it had moved during the night. The next night, again the same thing happened. Now Siraj got worried. He told one of his courtiers to sit up all night and watch the balaposh. Sure enough, that night too the balaposh moved. Siraj ordered it be taken apart to see what was making it move. When they did, they found a baby snake inside and the remains of an eggshell.

Balaposh making is a lost art. Siraj ud Daula had cut off the thumbs of the skilled artisans who made them so that only he would have the pleasure of using them.

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