Erstwhile royal families and historic properties are coming together to pay tribute to India’s textile heritage by working with its custodians, karigars (or local artisan designers) from three places (Mayurbhanj in Odisha, Jaisalmer in Rajasthan and Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh) to launch a garment installation for virtual viewing for a period of 3 months.
The campaign ‘Karkhana Chronicles: The Royal Edition’, will see each royal house setting up a textile installation inspired by local arts they would like to promote. Through the campaign, they aim to start a conversation on circularity, history and social equity, while striving to ensure recognition and upliftment of local Indian artisans.
Alongside the campaign’s attempt to revive slow fashion in India and to breathe new life into India’s textile arts, it also aims to preserve the dying sustainable textile arts and practices of local artisan communities across India by documenting and digitally preserving these practices.
“Our local artforms showcase our cultural heritage and through Karkhana Chronicles, we show our pride and hope that the traditional craft and textile practices get the utmost love and recognition that they deserve,” said Jema Akshita M Bhanjdeo, the royal representative from the Belgadia Palace, Mayurbhanj, Odisha.
The common ‘sui’ (needle) and ‘dhaga’ (thread) have played an important socio-economic role in the foundation of India and continue to be a source of livelihood for millions of urban and rural artisans. India’s rich history of craftsmanship has seen it become a key player in the textile economy, with it being the second-largest fashion manufacturer for Western brands. The idea of the campaign came from revisiting royal patronage to artists to promote these iconic properties and their custodians who have held a longstanding appreciation and support for local arts and artisans espousing the Prime Minister’s campaigns of ‘Make in India’ and ‘Vocal For Local’.
Sharing his thoughts on the sustainability of Indian textile arts, Yuvraj Chaitanya Raj Singh, the crown prince of the erstwhile Kingdom of Jaisalmer, said, “Sustainability has historically been one of the key driving forces for the local communities of Jaisalmer as we have always had to create garments in harmony with natural elements due to the desert terrain. Jaisalmer has always been a point where eastern and western cultural influence has been reflected in our rich textile trade as we were on the silk route which used to cut through this region.”
Batting for policy change to preserve the ancient sustainable textile practices, Priyadarshini Raje Scindia, Maharani of Gwalior, said, “Through the Initiative of Karkhana Chronicles, a legacy of shared histories, stories, experiences and cross state conversations and collaborations are possible and have begun by the actual stakeholders.” She added, “Through the Karkhana Chronicles, our memories give their stories a new history of blood passion and cultural conservation is about to be written.”