Image: A close-up of a traditional bandhani cotton saree that has been draped in the local Kathiyawadi style for the Bhavnagar installation.
Karkhana Chronicles II has launched online with a series of installations which bring together craft patronage and contemporary design. The digital exhibition explores India’s textile art and heritage as a means to promote sustainability in fashion and to find design solutions for the future.
Supported by The ReFashion Hub — a sustainability-focused initiative with a special emphasis on water stewardship — the project has worked with the royal families of Indore, Kathiwada, Bhavnagar and Mysore to create four textile installations that open a conversation on the revival of traditional knowledge and practices in the Indian fashion industry. The project draws its inspiration from the artisanal workshop or ‘karkhana’ whilst advocating for fashion that is kinder to the climate, natural resources, and the people engaged within this sector.
Image: Boutet de Monvel portrait of HH Maharani Sanyogitaraje Holkar.
The four installations are:
Indore Maheshwari, Bridging Worlds
As a special collaboration between REHWA+WomenWeave and designer Sanjay Garg (Raw Mango),this installation showcases the flexibility and universality of the Maheshwari handloom textile by bridging its traditional and contemporary applications. The installation finds its inspiration in the iconic Boutet de Monvel portraits of HH Maharaja Yeshwantrao II and HH Maharani Sanyogitaraje Holkar. The portraits presented the couple in both traditional Indian and European looks. Sanjay Garg will present a cape, inspired by the Maharaja's tuxedo and woven by WomenWeave in Maheshwar. The attempt here is to bridge the historic binary of East and West. The installation aims to push the boundaries of design and application while staying rooted in its history and heritage.
Image: Detail of Mysore silk saris
Mysore silks and Khadi: Innovation, Creativity and Style
Conceptualised by HH Yaduveer Wadiyar and his sister, Jayathmika Lakshmi, the installation from Mysore incorporates silks and Khadi in a sculptural piece of a styled sari and jacket. The beauty and symbolism of Mysore’s textile heritage and sustainability message is highlighted by the third component which the installation is displayed on— the Navalgund Dhurri which is a style of weaving that dates back to the Vijaynagar empire and is woven exclusively by women. The craft is rapidly dwindling with less than 50 weavers still practicing the unique technique.
Weaving Drapes: An installation by Nilambag Palace and Bhavnagar Heritage
Bhavnagar is renowned for its range of crafts, from artisanal brass and copper items to intricate silk textiles. The installation supported by the Bhavnagar royal family, brings women weavers and beadmakers of Bhavnagar city, with brass and copper karigars of Sihor to create a vision that shows the range and versatility of traditional skills. Placed on a delicate silk textile the installation presents: a fine embroidery Chaniyo produced in the ‘bharat kaam’ technique; a traditional choli or khadi blouse; a bandhani cotton saree draped in the local kathiyawadi style and adorned with bead work jewellery, a famous craft of Bhavnagar.
Image: Kathiwada installation, detail of beadcraft and bamboo.
Kathiwada: Where tradition and innovation meet
Conceptualised by the royal family of Kathiwada, the installation explores innovation while being rooted to the traditional craft practices of the state — interpreting the use of historical textiles and weaving techniques in order to make it relevant to the current generation. The legacy of Kathiwada is demonstrated through Kasota weaves by the adivasis of Juna Kathiwada, hand block printing by award winning artists from Bagh, and Khaddar woven in Madhya Pradesh.
Talking about the exhibition Akshita Bhanj Deo, the Creative Director of Karkhana Chronicles says, "Karkhana Chronicles II seeks to highlight heritage textile art that is not limited to its positive impact on the environment but also the exceptional quality and exclusivity in design that comes along with these textiles. Concepts such as circularity that have come into contemporary discourse on sustainability are actually ideas that have organically existed within our traditional production systems for centuries. Through this exhibition we invite discerning audiences of makers and consumers to engage with this rich legacy of craftsmanship and explore the potential within these traditional knowledge systems to create sustainable futures."
To view the four online installations, visit the Karkhana Chronicles website.