Tag Archives: India

download (2)The concern about environmental pollution and their effects has sparked a lot of debate and heat in many a recent conference at the global level. Initiatives on eco-friendly substances, ban on certain harmful poisonous substances resulting from industrial production and released as waste, and other ecology-threatening issues are raised, debated and followed up with policies aimed at 'cleaning-up' the environment.

In India, the textile industry with its processes of dyeing and printing involves a lot of chemicals or colours being used and the residue drained into nearby ponds, streams or even rivers. This automatically poses a health and environment hazard to humans and marine life making use of these water sources for various purposes.
Since the water pollutant is the chemical colour or dye, alternatives have to be found and substituted.

The solution already exists for the change to be initiated, with the increased use of vegetable dyes that neither contaminate nor pollute the environment.

Vegetable dyes are made from the processing of vegetables and their skins while natural dyes include vegetable dyes and also dyes are made from many other substances from nature.

Vegetables like beetroot, tomato, carrot, onion, some leafy vegetables and fruits like pomegranate, grapes, guava, are examples of the vast and abundant sources for vegetable dyes available in nature.

Turmeric, acacia, red sandalwood, henna, madder, lac dye, are well-known examples of materials other than fruits and vegetables for natural dyes.

The advantages in the use of natural dyes or eco-friendly dyes over chemical dyes in textiles are many, but the more important ones are: Eco-friendly dyes are easy on the skin and do not irritate or affect it, while chemical dyes do have a mild to noticeable effect.

Eco-friendly dyes are fast colors and do not run despite several washes over the years. Artificial dyes have a tendency of spreading in the next or after a few washes. Fading, dullness or change of colour in a short period after repeated washes, is a foregone conclusion for chemical dyed apparel.

The raw materials for eco-friendly dyes are directly available from nature. Chemicals for chemical dyes have to be specially prepared from a combination of different substances, through special laboratory methods or large scale industrial processes. Wastes from the use of vegetable or eco-friendly dyes are neither harmful to human life nor do they pollute. Whereas it harms human life and pollutes when chemical dyes are used.

The advocacy for natural dyes has been since long, and policies for their use have been made and enforced in developed nations, like the US and most countries in Europe. The same cannot be said for India and many other smaller countries where the textile industry contributes significantly to the GDP.

Major hitches that have been encountered in the widespread use of natural dyes are their high cost of extraction and processing, limited technical inputs and capability for cheap extraction, very few shades and limited blends available from a colour.

- The cost of natural or organic dyes is relatively high compared to that of chemical dyes,

- There is limited know how about extraction methods and the process is costly.

- The colour yield is quite low from raw material sources for natural dyes. The quantity required for a project would involve too much more in comparison to the quantity of chemical dyes available for the same. Hence costs could be put as 20 to 30 % higher.

- Getting most shades within a colour and blending of colours from natural dyes is very much limited in comparison.

But in the recent couple of years, there has been a marked change and interest. The market has become increasingly aware regarding environmental issues and there is an increasing demand for the use of natural dyes, especially for apparel, textile cloth for furnishings and other items of household use. The ban on certain class of azo-dyes, in the light of possible hazards and the use of vegetable dyes being actively canvassed and given whole-hearted support for, by various research institutions, NGOs, public figures and environmental activists, has helped the cause.

The opening up of exports of natural dyes to developed countries, the growing of raw materials for the making of natural dyes becoming a new avenue for rural entrepreneurship and a means to livelihood and increasing voices in international meets to address environmental issues rigorously, have largely helped in the re-birth and renewed growth of Natural dyes, especially since with the advent of chemical dyes with their advantages of being cheaper and easily available, the existence of the eco-friendly or Natural Dyes was threatened some time.

download (3)Embroidery is a traditional art, of decorating portions within a fabric such as a design, motif, a border section or some other with decorative needlework. There are some forms which are excellent, there are a few others which are exemplary. For not only is it the outcome, but also the complexity of the task and its time-consuming achievement, which makes the embroidery, unique and inspirational. There are some gems which have belied time, that have carried over the ages and still remain inimitable to this day.

Handcrafted embroidery is exclusive, unique, inspirational - a treasured art, since it is painstaking, time consuming, and a lot of care and dedication is put into it by ethnic practitioners, resulting in flawless creations of exquisite beauty. There are numerous forms of thread work practiced across the land, many are simple by way of doing, some are elaborate by way of both theme and execution.

And then there are the gems that have been carried across the sands of time by extremely devoted practitioners that are unparalleled in form, development and outcome. Such precious arty pieces are rare, with some extraordinary aspect or the other related to the origin and propagation helped by lovers of the unusual, that has kept them alive and flourishing till date.

Embroidery forms that have become popular

Zardozi is metal embroidery done on various fabrics like salwar kameez and sarees using gold or silver colour coated copper wire along with a silk thread. Popular since Mughal times, zari thread employed for zardozi, is imitation zari using gold or silver coated copper wire or mostly zari made from metallic polyester film, where a polyester core is covered by gold or silver coloured metallic yarn. Seemingly ordinary, this form of embroidery has an exhaustible variety and till date has remained as one of the most popular forms of embroidery.

Chikankari is intricate embroidery on salwar kameez and other canvas fabrics. An art form from Mughal times, encouraged by them and continued till date, the design or pattern embroidery once done with white thread on equally white or whiter plain fabrics uses coloured threads too. But this has neither dimmed the lustre of the art nor limited its variety. There are still too many designs and patterns that remain to be explored over a lifetime. Lucknavi chikankari is the most unique and famous of chikan work in India.

Kantha Work, the running stitch on designs in the form of motifs is embroidery work done on salwar kameez, sarees. These motifs could be animals, birds, flowers, simple geometrical shapes and scenes from everyday life. It gives the fabric a wrinkled and wavy look transforming a supposedly plain one into an extraordinary creation. Experimented with other stitches such as darning stitch, satin stitch and loop stitch, the fascination for Kantha has increased tremendously. Based on the use of the fabric, Kantha is divided into seven different types with Lep kantha and Sujani kantha being the popular types.

Bagh is special floral embroidery practised by women in rural Punjab. Heavy, exquisite embroidery on salwar kameez especially the lehenga type, where the base fabric is hardly visible, it is mostly done for special salwar suits for occasions like festivals and weddings. Phulkari or the floral embroidered motifs evenly distributed over the fabric is the lighter version of Bagh.

Kasuti is traditional embroidery of Karnataka, India. Kasuti work is very intricate, involves putting a large number of stitches by hand on traditional sarees like Ilkal, Kanjeevaram, Mysore Silk and handlooms like the Dharwad cottons. Kasuti embroidery has intricate patterns like chariot, lamps and conch shells on the fabrics. Its practitioners are gypsies or tribal folk but the art is sublime - untouched, unparalleled.

Kashida is embroidery done in the Kashmir valley, draws its subjects from nature and its offerings like leaves, floral arrangements, fruits, nuts etc. to be displayed as motifs on the rich Pashmina salwar kameez, shawls and other apparel.

Kutch embroidery is microscopic, exquisite, painstaking and absolutely awesome. It is a test of patience skill, memory and devotion rolled into one. The sensational designs and patterns that form from calculated stitches are done purely from memory. The outcomes are exotic masterpieces that have a blend of traditional flavor and modern day art. It is another masterpiece from the nomads of the desert, the Kutch region of Gujarat.

There are some others like the Parsi Garo embroidery known for their intricate thread working, with unique patterns and exceptional detailing.

These forms of threadwork are unique, distinct, exceptional and highly inspirational. Yet they have one thing in common. They have originated from humble places, been taken up more as a pastime and sometimes a need, yet the practitioners have not failed to do what is needed for a piece of work to be transformed as a beautiful art.

It is lovers of art who have through their ability to distinguish between ordinary and extraordinary that such art forms have been given their due place in the sun. There are very many more handicrafts of skill and accuracy spread across the country, where some like these, have got their well-deserved attention; others not as fortunate though, to get even the slightest attention of some encouraging body or well-wisher to bring them their due.