The Eloquence of Lucknow in every miniscule
LUCKNOW DISTRICT IS A HUB OF WHITE-WORK OF CHIKANKARI AND ZARDOSI EMBROIDERY IN INDIA. IT GIVES EMPLOYMENT TO .25 MILLION PEOPLE IN THE DISTRICT.
Embroidery engages women in our studio, and its an act of engagement and meditation. It is also done in the comfort of the craftswomen's home. From our studio in Indira Nagar in Lucknow, our team visit each artisan, at least once every week. The artisans are spread over 100 sq. km., stretching across Khadra, Saadatganj, Daliganj, Iradatnagar, Mehboobganj and Kakori.
A 1300 Year Old Craft
Generations of master craftsperson from era of King Harshvardhan and Nawabs of Avadh now embroider with endurance for you.
The tradition of white embroidery is reported in Harshcharita and Ajanta murals of 7th CE. It was later patronised in 17th CE by the Nawabs and Shah's of Avadh.
It is also believed that Queens in Harems of Avadh commissioned the embroidery and invited travellers from Persia who shared their intricate stitches with local embroiderers and amalgamated with existing art.
Over the past 13 centuries, the artisans of from era of Harshvardhana to Nawabs have watched their fathers embroider, and then apprenticed by Usttad to become gifted embroiderers themselves. The tradition and endurance for finesse of embroidery, is truly in their blood.
Our Legacy of Truthfulness
OUR STORY BEGAN IN 2015 IN LUCKNOW, UTTAR PRADESH, INDIA
A town on the banks of Gomti river that was centre of activities during Nawabs in 17th CE. For centuries, artisans of the town have nurtured varied crafts have embroidered a long and distinguished reputation for excellence. Our legacy dates a 6 years, when shortly after India saw a change in legacy of power in Government, Dr Jaspal Kalra started as a project during his doctoral research. The organisation now has Dr Kalra, Susan Kolady, Rajni Kalra and Danish Siddiqui as Board of Directors and Samir Kher as mentor.
‘Sangraha’ in hindi means for group of people and also commitment to sustaining heritage (Sangrahalya or museum).
During the doctoral research between 2014 to 2017 worked towards developing a service prototype (design education programme) and tested it in two trials. The insights in the design empowerment of artisans was that role of the designer should not be as a leader, but as a provocator, facilitator and leveller in craft projects. The true empowerment of artisan is about regaining confidence in their effectiveness, creativity and outstanding skills by getting a chance to receive appreciation from buyers and designers.
Our Atelier With Cultural Responsibility
WE CARE FOR OUR PEOPLE AS MUCH AS WE CARE FOR OUR PRODUCTS
Our community is our backbone with whom we have built Sangraha as brand over the past 6 years. It is our vision to improve the quality of life and achieve inclusive growth for everyone associated with us. Growth is not mere economic sustenance rather engagement in design process, narrative and strategic planning.
As a testament to this, Sangraha is the first brand in the Chikankari cottage industry to offer medical insurance to all artisans, include signature of artisans in products, invest in education of artisans, benchmark wages in multiples prevailing market standards, co-create products with vernacular sensibility- the creating own benchmark for human rights in the workplace.
Social Cohesion in Wellness
WE SUPPORT OUR ARTISANS IN HEALTH NEEDS THROUGH AWARENESS AND RESOURCES
Each artisan in our core team has a medical insurance cover from third party worth two hundred thousand rupees and even work from Home artisans get insurance cover of one hundred thousand rupees. Work from home avails free medical check-up and we intend to cover them under medical insurance by end of 2021.
Regular drives on health care and vaccination are organised for artisan community.
Fabrics with Vernacular Sincerity
CRAFTED FROM NATURALLY GROWN COTTONS OR RECYCLED FABRICS
At Sangraha Atelier we craft all our products from natural fabrics that are soft and comfortable. Our processes stress on minimal wastage as we care for the Planet.
We work with leftover fabrics and recycle them to create artisanal home décor products and artefacts.
Excellence in Process
OUR VERNACULAR TECHNIQUES ARE SUSTAINABLE AND ENGENDER EXCELLENT PRODUCTS
The process of product making is extensive and needs endurance. A needle almost penetrates a textile at least ten thousand times to create an artisanal product.
Making the thread travel through the textile with the help of a needle is the longest and most enduring phase. The embroidery could be done by stretching textile between fist of finger, small hand frame or large karchobe. Chikankari embroidery is primarily done by women and zardosi by men but during the era of Nawabs there was do gender distribution of embroidery. At Sangraha each artisan appreciates and practices both forms of embroidery leading to creations that are in tandem with the narrative of design.
The removal of fugitive dyes involves an intensive process that give inherent characteristic to the textile. Treating with excreta of herbivorous animals, herbs of soapnut- Yucca elata, steaming for hours to remove impurities this slow curing gives the textile rich lustre and softness of flowing water.
Whilst the commercial market now works on speedy process involving chemicals, at Sangraha Sat́ (सत्) we value tradition and sustainability and constantly research and evolve the vernacular technique.
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EACH PRODUCT IS LIKE A MUSICAL NOTE THAT IS PRACTISED IN VARIOUS ARTISTIC TECHNIQUES TO REACH ITS COMPLETION.
This technique has barely changed over years since Nawabs. The art of drawing with pen (kalam) on fabric is completely lost still at Sangraha we work on small collections that are hand drawn.
Blocks are meticulously carved out of sheeshan wood 'Dalbergia sissoo' by Block maker. The quality of engraving is determined by the size of motif and intricacy. The engraver uses icons for various stitches like phanda, murri, bijli... — a higher number of intricate stitch icon indicates a superior piece will be made.
The designs are transferred onto textile using fugitive dyes mixed in waste edible gum. The grid is planned in each product with precision and then designs are printed. The force of impact of block on fabric, its maintenance and viscosity of dye bath determines the quality of impression.
The printer or Chipkar have been using this since generations when their forefathers migrated to Lucknow during the era of Nawabs. The technique has remained constant though the fugitive dye has changed from gerua (red oxide) to commercial indigo and zinc oxide.