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Highlighting royal Indian textiles, Karkhana Chronicles II launches digitally

Textile installations and a panel discussion celebrate sustainability through heritage craft

April 23, 2021: Bringing forth India’s phenomenal treasure of textile heritage and alluring royal style, Karkhana Chronicles II is presenting a series of installations and traditional textiles in collaboration with the royal families of Indore, Kathiwada, Bhavnagar and Mysore. The digital exhibit is available to view on a special microsite.

Maharani of Indore installation

The ‘Sanyogita’ saree, a reinterpretation of the Maharani of Indore’s resplendent yellow Maheshwari saree, paired with ‘Nazneen’ Varanasi silk brocade blouse

Looking back to tradition to find design solutions of the future, the project draws its inspiration from the artisanal workshop or ‘karkhana’ – a timeless site of creativity and innovation that distinguishes India’s rich textile heritage.

Supported by The ReFashion Hub – a sustainability-focused initiative with a special emphasis on water stewardship – Karkhana Chronicles II hopes to open a conversation on the revival of traditional knowledge and practices in the Indian fashion industry, and advocate for fashion that is kinder to the climate, natural resources and the people engaged within this sector. The project builds on Karkhana Chronicles I which launched in late 2020.

Maharaja of Indore installation

A cape, inspired by the Maharaja of Indore’s tuxedo

The four installations include a collaboration between REHWA+WomenWeave and designer Sanjay Garg (Raw Mango) which draws inspiration from the iconic Boutet de Monvel portraits of HH Maharaja Yeshwantrao II and HH Maharani Sanyogitaraje Holkar. The installation will present the ‘Sanyogita’ saree, REHWA’s reinterpretation of the Maharani’s resplendent yellow Maheshwari saree which will be paired with ‘Nazneen’ Varanasi silk brocade blouse by Raw Mango that features all-over ‘jaal’ of floral motifs. Raw Mango will also present a cape, inspired by the Maharaja’s tuxedo and woven by WomenWeave. 

The installation 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.

Bhavnagar installation Karkhana Chronicles

The installation by Bhavnagar for Karkhana Chronicles II

Conceptualised by HH Yaduveer Wadiyar and his sister, Jayathmika Lakshmi, the installation from Mysore will incorporate silks and Khadi, in a sculptural piece of a styled sari and jacket. The beauty and symbolism of Mysore’s textile heritage will be highlighted by a third component – the Navalgund Dhurrie, 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 carrying forth this unique technique. 

Mysore installation Karkhana Chronicles

The installation by Mysore for Karkhana Chronicles II

The Kathiwada installation brings together indigenous communities and highlights their traditional craft practices through various weaves, prints and jewellery crafts. The legacy of Kathiwada will be demonstrated through the languishing craft of Kasota weaves, adapting it to make contemporary wearable pieces. Showcasing the versatility of bamboo, the installation will adorn a bamboo jacket stitched by the native communities. Sustained by the Khatri community at Bagh, the craft of hand-block fabrics, made with natural vegetable dyes, will also accompany the look, adorned with intricate bead jewellery. 

Kathiwada installation Karkhana Chronicles

The installation by Kathiwada for Karkhana Chronicles II

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."