In the recent visit to Nepal, I have had the privilege of rediscovering my beautiful country and becoming involved in the material making process for our 2013 collection. I visited the small village of Khokana where the materials are sourced and loomed, and was given a personal tour around by one of the village women, Radhika Maharjan.
Embracing cultural traditions, the women of the village spend their leisure time hand weaving fabrics to sell on, providing themselves with opportunities and independence. Maintaining full time jobs, usually in farming, they were kind enough to show me how they weave cotton on their own looms in their homes for an alternative source of income. This tradition is passed down through the generations as a rite of passage when mother’s, aunt’s or elders, take on the task of teaching the young girls of the village how to weave. This not only gives each girl a skill but creates their cultural identity giving each woman a greater sense of self. It truly was touching to see this building of such a wonderful community.
The indulgent process that Radhika and the women of the village go through to loom the material involves intricate work at every stage. First the raw cotton must be placed onto a reel; it is then hand spun with careful consideration to create the cotton thread. The thickness of the thread is dependent on the skill of the weaver and the beauty of this work is that each thread of material personifies the individual weaver and their skill. The women were kind enough to allow me to try to loom myself, to create a fine piece of thread is so difficult, much harder that it appears and must take years of practice. However the result is a fabric that is unique in its texture and truly represents the story of its creation.
The practice of weaving becomes customary; the women explained how they weave in the comfort of their houses in the winter and in summer move their equipment outside to weave on the streets. It is this iconic imagery that I hope will be represented in the collection; the incorporation of years of tradition and individual input that creates something so beautiful.
The lengthy process through which the women go to make the material also revealed their true identity. Calm and patience they live in a pure and wholesome way. They utilize their skills using time and persistence to make products which create opportunities for themselves and their families. The result is an exceptional fabric that is undeniable worth the effort. The work of the village women is so inspiring, I hope to be able to capture the beauty of their work in my collection.
The Orange dress pictured is a personal design that is made out of Khadi material, the same material that is weaved and used by the women of the village.
Special thanks to Tusli Meher Ashram, Nepal
Photo Credit : Mahesh Pradhan
Love Sanyukta xx