Bridging Pastoral Lifestyle to Modern Consumers
Words and Photos by Seema Singh
The modernization of our country has depleted a lot of traditional technology and know-how. Yet, in far flung areas, in hidden worlds, we can find some remnants of traditional crafts. One such craft is weaving textiles from wool of Gaddi sheep in Himalayan region of Dhauladhar range. The fabric is called as "Pattu" is made by traditional method of hand-spinning the organic wool of sheep on wooden looms in Chamba district. The Gaddi pastoralist has been rearing the Gaddi sheep for almost thousands of years and this indigenous method of rearing sheep and making fabric is eco-friendly with no chemicals used in the whole process.
The story of Indigo Amour is basically re-presenting this traditional wool textiles to urban consumers by giving advantage of organic wool properties. The organic wool is good as home textiles as it absorbs micro-particles and VOCs in indoor air thus making our home a healthier abode. It is flame retardant - It doesn't catch fire easily. It is bio-degradable and leaves minimal carbon foot print due to its traditional hand-done methods in production process. Moreover, it is said that organic wool heals muscular pains, and a mattress of felt Gaddi wool can give you better sleep at night.
The natural wool comes in ecru and black colors. Indigo Amour has applied various natural dyes in this wonderful hand spun yarns (spun using charkha) to make it even more attractive. We are making fabrics using hand weaving skills of Bhuj region in Gujrat. Women weavers are making beautiful twill weave patterns with organic Kala Cotton of Kutch in warp and dyed Gaddi wool in weft direction. Dyes are from natural sources like Indigo, Madder, Pomegranate rind, Madder and Harda (Myrobalan), hand dyed to get unique shades in products.
The Craft Project wishes to document tangible anthropology i.e material culture of a place and comment on its relevance in the contemporary space. We also wish to bring together a community of cultural travelers and craft entrepreneurs and create a collective of common motivation. The Craft Project celebrates Diversity in culture through objects, folk arts, crafts, and design. Through this project, we will be conducting community-sourced primary research and publishing about crafts and will involve brands, NGOs, collectives, makers, designers, curators, thought leaders, other publications etc.
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Our products range from crocheted cushion covers in natural shades of wool, cushions of handloom wool fabric in stripes, Pattu felt wool yoga mats, and hand dyed curtains of wool and cotton. The fabric is versatile thus making it a good choice for eco-home theme. We take orders for bigger quantity so that vintage interior look can be imparted in home projects where it can be applied to carpets, mats, sofa covers, curtains, room dividers and throws as well. We have also designed Wool jackets for men and women that can be worn as office and semi-formal dress code with Indian ethnic touch.
The aim of reviving this rare fabric is two fold -
1. Using organic Himalayan wool for urbane homes and offices will not only benefit the consumer, but also help save Gaddi sheep. Gaddi sheep is an integral part of Himalayan eco-systems. If we save pastoral-ism, we save Himalayas. Instead of buying Meriono wool Australian, we can choose to opt for our own desi wool like Gaddi sheep wool.
2. The products create jobs for women artisans of Chamba as well as artisans of Bhuj villages. Hand spinning is declining fast in traditional textiles clusters as well. The hand spun yarn is the best choice for maintaining body temperatures in all seasons. Thus, Indigo Amour is not only an organic wool brand, it is giving livelihood to many artisans who otherwise will be lost in the name of Industrialization and modernization.