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The Timeless Elegance of Mukaish

In the narrow lanes of Chowk, from the verandah of an old house comes the sound of glass burnishing metal. This is one of the few surviving houses where the subtle Mukaish work still happens in the world. Mukaish or Mukeish is a type of embroidery done with metal on materials like Chiffon or Georgette where thin strips of metal are weaved through the fabric and twisted off to create patterns and designs. Originating in Lucknow, Mukaish (or Badla as it is locally called) work was originally meant for royalty with embroidery being done with gold and silver thread, making it a very expensive affair. Labour intensive and expensive, this dying craft is all about the detail. The two types...

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Gopurams and Temple Motifs

Tall and bright beacons of hope, gopurams are the towers at the entrances of most South Indian Temples. Gopurams, like most towers in religious architecture worldwide, are viewed as attempts to reach skyward toward heavens and the divine. They also give the impression of strength, of the order or the patron who commissioned the temple. The tall and imposing structures are visible from lands far and wide, serving as guides to lost pilgrims, encouraging common folk to leave their worldly worries behind and enter the sanctum in peace and tranquillity. Distinctive in their appearance, gopurams are normally structures of stone with etchings, carvings and sculptures that draw inspiration from the stories of Gods, the world around and life itself. Tall...

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A Chanderi Legacy

A Chanderi Legacy: Chanderi is amongst the best known handloom fabrics of India. It’s a centuries old intricate hand weaving technique of producing finely textured fabrics of silk and cotton embellished with zari. The fabric gets its name from the town of Chanderi, situated between the hills of Vindhyachal in the state of Madhya Pradesh (MP). The Chanderi town produces three kinds of fabrics: Pure Silk, Chanderi Cotton and Silk Cotton. With around 3,500 looms in working condition, 18,000 people are directly or indirectly dependent on this industry for their living. The Chanderi fabrics are known for their sheer texture, low weight and a glossy transparency that sets them apart from textiles produced en masse in factories. Traditionally, the fabric...

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Ikat Weaving

The word 'ikat' refers to the process of resist-dyeing, where bundles of yarn are tightly wrapped together and then dyed to create the desired pattern on the fabric. This is an incredibly complicated process, as the weaver has to precisely dye the threads, and place them correctly on the loom so it forms the desired pattern when woven into cloth. Usually either the warp or the weft yarn is resist-dyed. When both the yarns are dyed, it's called Double Ikat - a rare craft that now survives only in India, Japan, Guatemala and Indonesia.

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Hand block printing

Hand block printing is a labour-intensive and painstaking process. It can take 5 carvers up to 3 days to create an intricate design on a block of teak for use as a printing block. Separate blocks are required for each of the colors used in a design and it is not unusual to have 4 or 5 colors in a professional design. It can take 20 people, each doing a separate task, up to 8 hours to prepare a single block printed garment. With all this, the results can only be unique.

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