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#WearImFrom: How a Shawl Embodies a 'Legacy Written in the History' of Matriarchs

Curator Jasmine Wahi shares the power passed down to her by the matriarchs in her family, and how a hand embroidered shawl connects them all.

#WearImFrom: Jasmine Wahi, curator, as told to NBC Asian America contributor Ruby Veridiano

The piece that I have on is a hand embroidered shawl that belonged to my maternal grandmother, who was from India. Although my grandmother did not make this particular shawl, she did do a lot of embroidery work, and also taught other women how to make mirror work pieces. More than that, though, this piece reminds me both of her and my mother (who inherited the piece and then passed it to me) and all of the other South Asian matriarchs in my family. It's a traditional piece for women who transgressed the boundaries of traditional female roles.

Most of my family was originally from what is now known as Pakistan, and migrated to what is now India. It's the cultural memories that they've imparted on to me that make me long for this place and time that I'll never get to experience but that I feel a connection to nonetheless.

My grandmothers, particularly my Nanima [maternal grandmother] marched to the beat of her own drum, and stood by doing what was right and equitable regardless of its cultural appropriateness or popularity. She made sure that all of the girls in her immediate and extended family were as educated as the boys. My mother is the exact same way.

I don’t know if I’m as interested in the idea of "where" as a geographical concept, but more as a cultural imaginary — a legacy written in the history of my matriarchs. I’m my mother’s daughter, my grandmothers' descendant, the legacy of my foremothers — and that is where I’m from.

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