LECTURE: CRAFTING FASHION IN INDIA: ARTISANS, DESIGNERS & CULTURAL HERITAGE @ ST FAGANS HISTORY MUSEUM

11:00AM Eiluned Edwards – CRAFTING FASHION IN INDIA: ARTISANS, DESIGNERS & CULTURAL HERITAGE

Associate Professor in Global Cultures of Textiles and Dress @ Nottingham Trent University. A regular lecturer at the V&A who has publishedwideuy on Indian textiles, dress and fashion, and is currently working on a British Academy project with Ambedkar University Delhi, the Craft Revival Trust and rural artisans in Kachchh, Gujarat.

eilunededwards@hotmail.com

Absolutely fascinating lecture exploring the craft of cultural heritage through the perspectives of designers and craftspeople in India. Eiluned discussed the merging of traditional handmade techniques with the newness of technology and marketing, and how it can be sustained in anew and growing digital age.

ASPECTS OF THE LECTURE I FOUND FASCINATING/AREA TO EXPLORE:

What is Chintz? Chintz is calico cloth printed with flowers and other devices in different colours. The word Chintz is Hindi and derived from the Sanskrit “chitra” which means many-coloured or speckled.

Chintz was originally a painted or stained calico* produced in India from 1600 to 1800 and popular for bed covers, quilts and draperies. First exported to Europe in the early 1600s, Indian chintz textiles quickly captivated the western market and put chintz at the centre of a revolution in dress and furnishing in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.  Around 1600, Portuguese and Dutch traders were bringing examples of Indian chintz into Europe. These early fabrics were extremely expensive and rare. By 1680 more than a million pieces of chintz were being imported into England per year, and a similar quantity was going to France and Holland.  [*One major centre of production for these fabrics was Calicut, which loaned its name to “calico,” a colourful fabric produced on cheap and often imperfectly finished cotton.] Exert of Blog http://www.decorativefair.com

Design/Craftsmanship is recognised as part of the cultural heritage of India. The modernisation of design within India has flourished thanks to The National Institute of Design (NID) and The National Institute of Fashion Technology, Gujarat.

KHADI – The Fabric of Indian Independence. The cloth is usually woven from cotton and may also include silk, or wool, which are all spun into yarn on a spinning wheel called a charkha. It is a versatile fabric, cool in summer and warm in winter. In order to improve the look, khādī/khaddar is sometimes starched to give it a stiffer feel. It is widely accepted in fashion circles. Khadi is being promoted in India by Khadi and Village Industries Commission, Ministry of MSME Govt. of India.

Khaki was seen by Ghandi as a way to give meaning/purpose to the lives of the poor, living in India. Spinning and weaving was elevated to an ideology of independence and self government. Onus on occupation was gifted to each individual within their own community; work would be readily available throughout the year. This was primarily due to the reliance on each other; by planting and harvesting their own crops there was no reliance\dependency on foreign materials. All rewards/profits were reinvested within the community; manual labour was a chance to bring together all castes, both rich and poor. Unity was one of the major driving factors of Khadi; not only that, it was also for the investment of social, economic and political structure. Khadi is not just cloth, it is a way of life.

WOW!!! This resonated so strongly with me. Imagine a society in which we could all share a mantra/idea of bringing all communities together, and unify us in a way that builds bridges between seclusion, religion and hate. Governments think only of capital, greed and the ideology to divide. I think we need innovative and creative world leaders, not just ex-investment bankers or private school toffs.

I personally love the fact that there is so much pride within the handmade/traditional craftsmanship of Indian Design; not only is it the cultural heritage of India, but like Khadi, is a way of life. Does this mean we have to be ever vigilant of the takeover of Digital Design? Does Digital Design signify the disconnection from the personal 1-2-1 relationship of handmade craftsmanship/tailoring, and give rise to the insidious takeover of faceless conglomerates.

AJRAKH – Unique form of block-printed textiles found in Sindh; Kutch, Gujarat; and Barmer, Rajasthan in India. Anionic representations are used to create patterns via the process of block printing with stamps; most common colours used are black, red, blue and yellow.

One of the most recognised/highly revered  Ajrakh practitioners/designers has to be SUFIYAN KHATRI (Above designs). Ajrakhpur, Kachchh.

https://huinoeau.modvantage.com/Instructor/Bio/4509/sufiyan-khatri

Link to an incredible article on Sufiyan Khatri, and how he is taking the mantra of Ghandi (Khadi) to help an entire village earn a living through an ancient art form.

I have messaged Sufiyan on Facebook, with the possibility of attempting to travel out there one day.

Eiluned invited the group to the front desk to sample, touch, and absorb all the incredible tactile nature of the textiles showcased.

 

These were but a few of my personal favourites. The lecture ignited a spark within me; research, travel and mentorship will become far more evident within my ongoing creative endeavours/journey. I want to blow open my imagination. I have an inherent desire to better equip myself for what’s to come.

Author: vmhtdesign

First Year Student @ Cardiff Met University, Lllandaff. BA Textile Design.

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