In today’s global economy India’s ancient arts of handloom and rural weaving are in jeopardy. Threatened by demographic shifts and economic stresses, young weavers are abandoning the craft and migrating to urban centers in search of better livelihoods. WomenWeave Charitable Trust supports women in handloom weaving by teaching them ways to make this traditional art […]
Rishtan ceramic dishes have long been prized by Uzbek families, used for everyday meals and tea, as well as for special occasions. Bakhitor Nazirovand his son Diyorbek are well-known for their intricate designs in blue and turquoise which, according to ancient beliefs, are the colors of pure water and cloudless sky, symbolizing happiness. Bakhitor began […]
Bandhani is a tie dye technique practiced in Gujarat and Rajasthan, Kutch being best-known as the center of its production. Experts believe the technique was brought to Kutch by Khatri craftsmen from Sindh, probably in the 16th century. Traditionally Khatris made bandhani only for themselves but today, women of all castes and religions wear bandhani […]
“I am an artist by blood and profession both,” says Abdul Majid, who learned block printing and textile design from his father, Abdul Rashid, their family having practiced the arts for over 300 years. It is assumed the art of printing designs on fabric originated in China over 4,500 years ago but it is in […]
Lushly textured, intricately patterned, and riotously colored—not to mention steeped in history, Uzbek rugs have enthralled collectors for centuries. Once part of the Persian Empire, Uzbekistan artists have a long tradition of creating exquisite textiles, passing skills from one generation to the next. Master artisan Fatillo Kendjaev, raised in a family of weavers, has an interest in making textiles which extends far beyond simply creating pretty rugs.
In Hindi, the word Sudarshan means beautiful, and in the ancient district of Jaipur, India, Sudarshan is also the name of a thriving artist collective, which was founded by expert textile artisan Hemangini Singh with a goal of preserving and promoting traditional folk textiles. Singh collaborates with skilled craftsman to create a collection of handmade […]
Ismail and Juned Khatri are 9th and 10th generation textile artists practicing the traditional skill of hand block ajrakh printing. Their textiles are known for their jewel-like colors and geometric, floral, and architectural patterns. Innovation comes into their work with the addition of clamp dye and shibori stitching techniques to create dramatic designs. They have […]
India’s non-profit artist collective Stitch by Stitch is a vibrant community of highly skilled, energetically creative people, eager to preserve ancient artistic techniques while also sharing them to a worldwide audience. After falling love with India, Designer Graham Hollick founded Stitch by Stitch. “We work with traditional techniques and designs, which we gently and respectfully […]
The delicately detailed paintings of Naynaben Bhavsar comprise themes both timeless and universal. Hunting scenes, for example, are rendered in stark clarity, yet have an intriguing, innate sensitivity that transcends any one genre. Her prolific atelier also captures regional imagery of brightly adorned dancers, set against monochromatic backgrounds that allow the viewer to focus on […]
It’s hard to choose just one adjective when it comes to describing the silk textiles of Lao artist Souksakhone Khakhamphanh. Not only are her wearable line of scarves, wraps, and shawls exquisitely patterned, they are also colorful, and deliciously smooth to the touch. Khakhamphanh learned to weave at age seven, and by twelve, she had […]
Soumak weaving is an integral part of Uzbekistan’s artistic and cultural heritage. The intricate textile-making process is intimately known to Dilshod Usmanov of Samarkand.
The process starts with an artist choosing his pattern and palette, then procuring yarn. The carpet begins to take shape by wrapping weft yarns over four warp threads, and then drawing them […]
Few types of headgear are as regionally specific as Cho’girma (chugirma), the outsized, fantastically textured hats native to Uzbekistan; nevertheless, these inherently dramatic headgear, covered allover with shaggy, undyed sheep wool, can be enjoyed around the globe, thanks to artists like Obidjon Obudov.
Thought to have originated in this part of Uzbekistan in the 15th or […]
Comprising several dozen expert textile artisans, all based in the ancient city of Bukhara, Uzbekistan, the workshop of master weaver and designer Anvar Kurbanov produces richly hued and elegantly patterned kilim-style as well as pile carpets in traditionally vibrant colors and designs.
“In my work,” explains Kurbanov, “I only use time-proven tools and materials, just like […]
The wearable art of Uzbek master weaver Nargis Bekmuhamedova comprises a showstopping combination of brilliant color and exquisite pattern and striking forms. The traditional costumes of men and women in Central Asia, specifically in Bekmuhamedova’s beloved Samarkand City, have utilized a similarly modest, loose-fitting cut and style for centuries, impervious to fads.
One of the most […]
One of the premiere members of the Yangma Traditional Weavers Cooperative of Olangchung, Nepal, Sita Lama Sherpa began spinning and weaving with her mother in Nepal’s Yangma Olangchung village as a child. Since the art of fine traditional weaving is dwindling in Nepal due to factory competition, as well as dire economic and political conditions, […]
Janmamad Salemamad Luhar belongs to the Muslim Luhar community of Zura, where for generations, his family has made sturdy and beautiful iron-coated copper bells, many adorned with ancient geometric symbols and floral motifs.
Luhar estimates that his family has been involved in bell making for more than three centuries. He first learned the craft from his […]
The sumptuous textiles of master weaver Firdose Ahmad Jan are beloved for their exquisite patterning and unparalleled softness. Extending a centuries-old artistic tradition, Jan, who lives and works in Kashmir, India, believes strongly in the historical integrity and rich background of his artistic practice, which, after all, is believed to have first started in this […]
Since the 8th century C.E., India’s Bengal region has produced elaborately conceived and meticulously woven cloth traditionally used to make wraps and covers for protection and comfort. Over time, thrift made its mark in this tradition with women mending much loved and much used fabrics with threads plucked from fraying saris and other fabric – […]
Master artisan Silpinwita Das partially grew up in Santiniketan, in a landscape she describes as “red soil, and meadows of lush green paddy fields, where rows of chhatim trees and palms charmed me from the very beginning.” Das grew up watching her father, textile artisan Ajit Kumar Das, absorbing his process and passion while forging […]
As a little girl, Shalini Karn and her siblings lived with their grandparents so their own parents could work. Karn was studious and dedicated to art-making from a young age, eventually receiving a scholarship to attend college, where she studied art.
Each of Karn’s designs takes careful planning. Once she decides on a subject, she […]
Ramesh Virji Mangariya and his team of artisans make luxuriously soft, exquisitely designed scarves using Kala cotton, indigenous to India’s Kutch region in the western part of the country. One of the oldest kinds of cotton in the world, dating back to 3,000 B.C., this special varietal requires no pesticides, and for centuries was used […]
According to the artists behind painting collective Mahalaxmi Das, their work “is a combination of common and uncommon things.” Their work is created with resplendent and staggering complexity, and fantastic detail. Artists Shantanu and Mahalaxmi most often paint in the Madhubani style, which originated in Bihar, specifically in the Mithila region, which is in the […]
Avani Earthcraft was founded in 1997 by Rashmi Bharti and her husband Rajnish Jain in Tilonia, Rajasthan, a town in Northwestern India. For over 20 years, Avani has revived traditional textile methods of hand-spinning, hand-weaving, and natural dyeing. Many of these traditional techniques came from the Shauka community. The Shaukas, a nomadic group, specialized in […]
Expert textile artist Angana Bordoloi maintains a generations-spanning weaving technique to make a range of products that exemplify ancient traditions of the Mishing tribal people, who have lived in northeastern India for centuries.
Bordoloi grew up in Assam, where India’s handloom culture remains especially popular. “Since childhood,” she maintains, “I’ve been nurturing a dream of showcasing […]
Master bandhani textile artisan Abdulbashir Fakirmamad Khatri hails from a family of weavers in Bhuj, India. “While studying in college,” recalls Khatri, “I learned bandhani from my uncle, and also through experimenting on my own.” In his early twenties, the precocious artist had already established a bustling textile workshop, where he managed and worked alongside […]
In many Uzbekistan homes, richly colored, beautifully designed carpets act as decorative and functional centerpieces. Khomid Zukhurutdinov, together with his artisans at the Al Khabib Carpet Shop in Bukhara, produce heirloom-quality hand-knotted silk and wool carpets in traditional, centuries-old styles.
Most of the carpets designed by Zukhurutdinov comprise painstakingly detailed and arranged geometric designs with origins […]
Hyderabad, India-based textile collective Ereena makes strikingly beautiful textiles. Using a type of ancient silk called “eri,” the group produces luxurious, sophisticated items suitable for a range of uses. Additionally, Ereena has provided steady work—and income—to thousands of talented artisans since its inception, while also renewing interest in an age-old artistic technique.
Jamdani weaving yields soft, […]
Designer Anupama Bose is a native of Rajasthan, India, but for nearly twenty years, the bustling city of Jaipur has been her home. Bose’s richly colored, dynamically designed saris are informed by tradition and professional training at India’s National Institute of Design.
Bose incorporates block and vegetable printing with traditional methods of sari construction. In addition […]
In the urban Mumbai community of East Andheri, India, time-honored connections to the materials and processes that produce natural dyes for vibrant Indian silks and cottons have long been lost to the ease and accessibility of chemical colorants. In 2008, however, Rupa Trivedi, an ultrasonic engineer, set out to reclaim the power of natural plants […]
The nomadic Rabari tribe first came to India’s Kutch region in the 13th century. Their story is captivating, as it was just 15 years ago when the tribal elders banned the elaborate embroidery work made by women. QASAB, a collective enterprise of 1,200 rural craftswomen from 10 ethnic communities from 42 Kutch villages, works to […]
Third-generation master embroiderer Sanjar Ravshanovich Nazarov grew up watching artists—in this case, his father and grandfather—at work. Today, with his own team of artisans and apprentices, Nazarov runs a large workshop in historic Bukhara, Uzbekistan. His birthplace offers myriad sources of creative inspiration, and also encourages him to maintain the gorgeously unique, centuries-old embroidery practices […]
Artisan Siju Shamji Vishram was born into a veritable weaving dynasty. His hometown of Bhuj, India, is a hub for textile artisans, and in the middle of the twentieth century, his father began a weaving cooperative with the goal of preserving ancient techniques that were losing ground due to the effects of modernization.
Today, Vishram is […]
Muhayo Aliyeva and her sisters founded Bibi Hanum with the goal of reviving and renewing interest in the craft of making traditional Uzbek clothing. The main mission of their workshop is to support women and preserve their cultural heritage. Bibi Hanum creates robes, caftans, contemporary clothes and home accessories using handmade traditional silk and cotton […]
For master artisan Abdulaziz Alimamad Khatri, dying cloth is practically in his DNA. After all, his entire family has been engaged in this artform for at least 10 generations. Originally, the Khatri family made woolen bandhani (a tie dye technique practiced in Gujarat and Rajasthan) for nomadic Rabari tribespeople, and later for their own personal […]
In addition to being a textile artist, Meeta Mastani is a writer, lecturer, social activist, and even a professor: in 2016, she was an artist-in-residence at The University of Wisconsin, where she instructed students on print-making and design. For over twenty-five years, Meeta has worked in sustainability and community development. From this commitment to local […]
Kalamkari or “qalamkari” is a type of hand-painted cotton textile traditionally produced in Iran and India. The word is Persian, and translates into drawing with a pen—a simple-enough sounding technique, but one which is actually very time-intensive and requires a high level of artistic and technical skill.
India-based artist Thilak Reddy is a master of Kalamkari, […]
Alongside traditional products like saris and scarves, master Indian textile designer Sufiyan Ismail Khatri has recently introduced bedsheets, curtains, and carpets. “The main reason to include new products,” he explains, “is because it gives me more freedom to play with designs, patterns and placements.”
Khatri is a recognized leader in the creation of akrakh printed textiles, […]
Mysterious and evocative are words that come to mind when studying the phenomenal textiles of Indian artisan Bashir Ahmad Jan. Jan’s creative eye has helped him develop a busy workshop of over fifty highly skilled artisans, who each play an integral role in producing delicately textured and colored textiles for personal adornment and for the […]
Chin and Karen weavings are among the most intricate and unusual of all weaving traditions in Myanmar. Every young woman in these ethnic groups learns from her mother the technique of weaving and the designs and colors that distinguish their families. These weavers are now working in cooperatives that promote sericulture and traditional textile methods. […]
Weaver Ikhtiyor Kendjaev comes from a family steeped in ancient techniques of carpet design and craft. Though he was born in Bukhara, Uzbekistan—a region famed for its textiles—Kendjaev’s ancestors were originally from Afghanistan, and brought with them their own unique creative traditions. The process of carpet weaving and natural dyeing has been passed down from […]
Farzana Sharshenbieva creates a range of textiles, from scarves to coats, using an ala kiyiz—or wet—felting technique. From a technical standpoint, the work is difficult, with the creation of a single garment requiring many individual steps. The laborious process yields beautifully unique items, however, whose organic, freeform designs are made without stitches or seams. For […]
Zhanyl Sharshembieva of Kyrgyzstan is a member of a truly unique artist collective known regionally and globally as The Seven Sisters. As the name implies, this is a family group, created over a decade ago with the desire to preserve cultural traditions around felted textiles. The basis of this craft was taught to the seven […]
The Bengal, India-based artist collective known as SHE, or Self Help Enterprise, currently includes approximately 800 embroiderers, all of whom are joined together to make and sell centuries-old kantha garments. This ancient technique involves sewing layers of old fabric together with a running stitch, making each piece not only truly unique, but also earth-friendly.
While working, […]
The Red Sari encompasses the spirit of giving back. On the streets of Paknajol, a majestic neighborhood within the ancient city of Kathmandu, the organization’s American-born founder Julie West began selecting damaged vintage silk saris suitable for felting. From this point on, Julie put her energy into creating a production center and successful social enterprise, […]
Sidr Craft is a social, artisan-based enterprise established in 1992 and led by Abdullah and Abduljabbar Khatri. They employ approximately 200 craftswomen from 8 villages in Kutch, Gujarat, India. The women are able to work from the comforts of home at their own convenience. This income is extremely valuable to their families, and in some […]
Bukhara, Uzbekistan is beloved the world over for its wealth of artforms. It’s here, in this ancient city, that Zarina Kendjaeva’s traditional suzani embroidery both expands upon traditional floral and symbolic designs, and also achieves special distinction for its unusual patterning and coloration. In Uzbekistan and elsewhere in Central Asia, suzani is used for decorative […]
Gulnora Odilova resides in the city of Shakhrisabz, located in southern Uzbekistan. Over a decades-long career as a master beadworker, weaver, and embroiderer, Odilova has also taught her skills to hundreds of artisans, the vast majority of whom are women. For years, Odilova’s mission has been to preserve and revive traditional Shakhrisabz embroidery, while simultaneously […]
Master felt designer and fabricator Zhanyl Baisheva lives and works in the small Kyrgyzstan town of Bokonbaevo. From childhood, she grew up watching her mother and grandmother work; they, along with untold generations before them, produced warm felted wool goods.
During and just after the Soviet era, however, Baisheva and other artisans experienced turbulent times both […]
With just under a million residents, Bishkek is the largest city in Kyrgyzstan, and is home to textile artist Erkebu Djumagulova. Bishkek—and Kyrgyzstan in general—is an area where felted wool goods are traditionally prized for their warmth, softness, and east transport. Long, harsh winters have made staying warm a priority here, especially for traditionally nomadic […]
Employing strikingly elegant, meticulously crafted techniques, master Indian textile artist Asif Shaikh’s distinctive method of art-making has earned him numerous accolades. He was fascinated by the craft of embroidery from a young age, and this early interest developed into a highly refined sense of aesthetics, with a keen desire for detail and design—but also a […]
Tashkent, Uzbekistan is the home of weaver Madina Kasimbaeva, who runs a workshop that produces some of the most finely crafted textiles in the area. She provides employment for over 150 artisans, the vast majority of whom are female.
Kasimbaeva strives to use the finest materials available; for her this means creating garments and home goods […]
Abdulaziz and Suleman Khatri are tenth-generation bandhani artists and experts in natural dyes. Abdulaziz is also trained in water conservation and environmental concerns related to dyes.
The bandhani technique involves dyeing a fabric that is tied tightly with a thread at specific points. Thousands of these tiny knots, known as bheendi, can appear on a meter […]
For generations, the province of Gujarat, India has been synonymous with exquisitely soft and uniquely patterned textiles, from scarves and wearable items to home goods like tablecloths and placemats. Nestled within this rich creative history, the workshop of Dahyalal Kudecha is noteworthy: not only are the items produced here vividly hued, they also contain arresting […]
Master textile artisan Mamta Varma was born and raised in Lucknow, India, a traditional epicenter of fine chikan textiles. Varma’s passion for every kind of craft and embroidery comes from her mother and aunt, who were both knitters and embroiderers. Though Varma did not initially set out to be an artist, she began making hand-embroidered […]
Drawing inspiration from his rural Kazakh surroundings, silversmith Ilya Kazakov is reinventing a jewelry tradition that spans literally millennia to the Iron and Bronze Ages, when man first began experimenting with metal. Steeped in the imagery of prehistoric life, Kazakov’s broad range of accessories bring a modern sensibility to the iconography of ancient civilizations.
Silver was […]