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[caption id="attachment_2870" align="alignleft" width="364"]Toile de Jouy In 1785 Christophe-Philippe Oberkampf invented the first machine for printing wallpaper, later printing on cotton fabric at his factory in Jouy-en-Josas, hence the prints were known as Toile de Jouy[/caption]

The term 'Toile de Jouy' (meaning, "cloth from Jouy") refers to the printed cotton produced by the Oberkampf textile manufactory at Jouy en Josas in Normandy from 1760 to 1843. It is most often associated with a Rococo pattern of Shepherds and shepherdesses encircled with floral garlands, usually in blue or pink, on a white background. The term is generic and encompasses a wide range of designs from Neoclassical to more generalized floral patterns.

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" css=".vc_custom_1600923185761{padding-right: 15px !important;}" z_index=""][vc_column offset="vc_col-xs-12"][vc_column_text]Madras Checks: My all-time favorite, and always in fashion, Madras checks stem from a humble origin with fascinating and quirky twists and turns in their journey.

The Origin of Madras Checks Fabric

Around the 12th century, Madras Checks was a piece of handloom clothing for India's peasant class in the village called Madraspatnam (Madras now Chennai). The local weavers would extract the soft fibers from the "tip-skin" of native trees to weave 36" wide square handkerchiefs, which were then block printed with bright colored check patterns.  They were worn as a garment similar to a sarong wrapped around the waist and extending to the ankles, called a lungi.

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Chikankari Embroidery, A Lucknawi Tradition.

As I turned the pages of Paola Manfredi’s pioneering book on the past and present of Chikankari Embroidery, one of the most luxurious and evergreen traditional embroideries from the Indian Subcontinent,  I feel proud of the culture that has patronized the excellent details and flair for this artistry. Nonetheless, the attention to detail is so nuanced( whether it is a small-cap or a full bodice) that I believe it will be an injustice to the research and images shared in the book if one attempts to discern everything in one read.

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MATISSE'S ART AND TEXTILES: Last week, As I was researching the works of artists who found inspiration in textiles, I came across the book ‘Matisse: His Art and His Textiles.’

Matisse had a blood association with textiles as he was born to a family of expert weavers in the French town of Le Cateau-Cambresis and brought up at Bohain-en-Vermandois in Picardy in Northern France. Since the Middle Ages, this region had been the center for manufacturing textiles- linen, wool, and silk. By the end of the nineteenth century, when Matisse was growing up, Bohain was renowned as a luxury fabric producer. - embossed and patterned velvet, tulle, voile, and above all, silk. It was second to none in supplying the top end of the Paris fashion trade.

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" css=".vc_custom_1599375663374{padding-right: 15px !important;}" z_index=""][vc_column offset="vc_col-xs-12"][vc_column_text]THE HISTORY OF EXTRACTION OF NATURAL DYES-ANIMAL PIGMENTS Can you imagine a world where all our apparel, our interiors, the objects we use in our daily lives were a uniform white or grey? We take color so much for granted that we cannot imagine that this was the case at the dawn of humanity. As civilizations started flourishing in Asia and Egypt around 2500 BC, the human need for adornment and self-actualization asserted itself in the first use of color.

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The Story of the Kashmir Shawl

 I have a very early memory of a mouse-coloured shawl my mother had which could go through a large man’s ring. I loved doing this so much the shawl was damaged, much to my mother’s dismay. I know today that this was the shahtoosh, made from the hair of the Chiru antelope, now rightly banned because the Chiru is endangered.

Fortunately, all other Kashmir shawls have more benign origins and we can continue reading about them, marvel at their workmanship, and snuggle into their luxurious warmth if we are lucky enough to own one. In India, shawls are often treated as part of a coming of age ceremony, so a girl getting married might get her first shawl as a present from her parents

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" css=".vc_custom_1597860824004{padding-right: 15px !important;}" z_index=""][vc_column offset="vc_col-xs-12"][vc_single_image image="2315" img_size="full" add_caption="yes" qode_css_animation=""][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column offset="vc_col-xs-12"][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]The Story of Indian Cotton: As we enter the sixth month of the pandemic I sit in disbelief, bewildered at the might of the virus- something that has incredible power but molecularly so small. This destructive virus almost feels like prescience as I consecutively write about how mankind has manipulated the existence of indigenous cottonseed, another ‘small’ yet ‘mighty’ being of nature. 

The Discovery of Indian Cotton

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" css=".vc_custom_1590196772145{padding-right: 30px !important;}" z_index=""][vc_column offset="vc_col-xs-12"][vc_single_image image="1980" img_size="full" qode_css_animation=""][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" css=".vc_custom_1590196738974{padding-right: 20px !important;}" z_index=""][vc_column offset="vc_col-xs-12"][vc_column_text]Kalamkari: The ancient art of Hand Painting the Fabric with Thilak Reddy. Thilak Reddy was introduced to us for the first time at the Santa Fe Folk Art Market, In spite of all of his talent and achievements, he is one of the most humble and hardworking people we have ever met.  Thilak, 32, practices the art of hand printing the fabrics using a bamboo pen and natural dyes to achieve intricate designs. He lives with his sister and mother in Srikalahasti, that has an indelible history of India’s painted and printed cotton trade with the world. Read here. He is a second generation Kalamkari artist after his father. Thilak started practicing this craft at a very young age and has now been working for over 20 years. After graduation, he lost his father. He had no option but to take over all his father’s projects to help put food on the table.

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Bagh Printing: Traditional Block Printing Technique from Madhya Pradesh

Block printing dates back to over 2000 years ago, during Buddha’s time. The trade of printed textiles from India flourished during the medieval age and 12th century. While the Coromandel Coast boasted of Kalamkari, the states of Gujarat and Rajasthan were built on block printed textiles. These soft intricate textiles, mostly naturally dyed, built a textile tradition that is still relevant today.

My tryst with block prints began with my mother. Seeing her wear indigo prints is what I grew up with. She wore exclusively cotton, a perfect textile for the Indian climate. The madder, indigo and mustard color of these calico textiles kept the body cool and soul happy.

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" css=".vc_custom_1587020762781{border-right-width: 1px !important;padding-right: 30px !important;border-right-color: #000000 !important;border-right-style: solid !important;}" z_index=""][vc_column width="1/2" css=".vc_custom_1586996033135{padding-top: 5px !important;}" offset="vc_col-xs-6"][vc_single_image image="1259" img_size="large" add_caption="yes" qode_css_animation=""][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/2" offset="vc_col-xs-6"][vc_column_text]TRADITIONAL HAND EMBROIDERY ARTISAN
Gulzar Ansari working at his home atelier in Delhi
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" css=".vc_custom_1587020671675{border-right-width: 1px !important;padding-right: 30px !important;padding-left: 10px !important;border-right-color: #000000 !important;border-right-style: solid !important;}" z_index=""][vc_column offset="vc_col-xs-12"][vc_separator type="normal"][vc_column_text]Hand Embroidery.  The opportunity to work with high skilled artisans has always made us appreciate the very elusive – soulful details of the journey of a design from an artwork to a ready material. The artisans are skilled in their crafts and rightly so, they are also opinionated about design. Together we share viewpoints, laughter and sometimes disagreements, all while trying to achieve the desired outcome We work with artisans out of their own creative spaces – thus with time, their workplace literally becomes our place of work too and soon every detail about them and their workplace become an everlasting memory. The way they still use their stained but gorgeous old tea pots and always sit and work by the window sill that is half covered with an old embroidered mesh. The way we make small conversations about our families, about our past, our hopes, and our future. These relationships are the foundation of Marasim. Our collected glints of pure gold. In these unprecedented times, we are opening up our box of stories with a hope that they will inspire some hopes and smiles. 

Gulzaar Anssari 

Meet Mohd. Gulzar Ansaari, 40 years old, an unsung hero of fashion.  Gulzar is based in Delhi. Having been born and brought up in Delhi, he is a true ‘Delhiite’.  He lives there with his siblings, wife and kids. They are a huge family and a very talented one too. Gulzar, along with his family members, have been practicing Aari and Zardozi embroideries at their home atelier for nearly 22 years. He vividly remembers his grandfather used to practice these embroideries and fondly shares the memories of his mother spending hours on the hand embroidery frame. In his own words, “All of us brothers and sisters, grew up playing around these frames and embroideries.”

These embroideries are in their blood.

TRADITIONAL HAND EMBROIDERY ARTISAN

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