All images courtesy Akanksha Rathore.
During the Selvedge Textile Tour to India, we met with Akanksha Rathore, designer-owner of the textiles and crafts brand Kilchu. Kilchu was taking part in the Design X Design exhibition in New Delhi, showing bangles and jewellery made using Sikki grass work. Sikki is a type of grass grown in marshy areas around rivers and ponds in the Mithila region of North Bihar.
Akanksha works with local artisans on Sikki grass products following her time with the Asian Heritage Foundation, an NGO working on a World Bank Livelihood Project in Madhubani Bihar. Akanksha explains, “The Idea was to design products that would not be short-lived with trends but something that could take shape and form and would morph with time. Something that would empower women to imagine their version and not limit them to wait for another designer and another season.”
“With exceptional understanding of forms and figures the artisans, all women, first harvest the grass, dye it in colourful hues and weave them in complex shapes and forms using a single needle like tool. With the project they desired to challenge the way the grass has been perceived. They wanted the result to speak the language of valour that these women showcase. The colour bangles and jewellery are only a glimpse into what these women can achieve.”
“Back in time these women were timid, persistent but unknown. Today the same timid eyes are imagining art that is shining bright, and for them to be identified, recognized and be counted as breadwinners. These women are redefining the idea of a working Indian woman.”
Akanksha Rathore is based in New Delhi, India. As a craft enthusiast she works with many types of material: beads, metal, wood and leather. She aims, with her company Kilchu, to lead conversations in craft, culture and its relevance both globally and locally by creating textiles and garments made by artisan communities in India and beyond.
For more information, contact Akanksha through kilchu.com