Ethical and Organic Innovation in the Handicraft Industry: Perpetuating the Essence of Heritage in Chikankari

By Jaspal Kalra.

Published by The International Journal of Design in Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: April 11, 2014 $US5.00

The embroidered textiles of India are a legacy that have a great visual appeal and speak a deeper language of symbolism. The hand skills and processes of dyeing, washing, and printing are rooted in traditions of organic and natural origins and call for sustainable development. Chikankari is embroidery that was always patronized by royalty and is presently incorporated in works of various designers. However, the associated processes in this embroidery suffered slow death of the very essence of this art-form, which was an expression of cultural heritage rather than just being an embellishment. We need to consider the preservation of some of these processes that still exist in other Indian crafts, as they are benevolent to workers and a tribute to traditional knowledge. This paper intends to provide an insight into the design, cultural and environmental aspects of this craft from its past to its revival in contemporary times. It will proceed to the development of a vision based on analytical study supported by experimentation, to eventually involve the artisans of the rural areas of Lucknow (India) with the aim of reducing several health and design related concerns currently associated with this handicraft. The researcher, in association with other craft revivalist, non-government organization and designers, intends to promote revitalization of some past processes and preservation of skills in order to develop a model of self-innovation and excellence within rural clusters.

Keywords: Organic, Sustainable, Heritage, Chikankari, Embroidery, Reactivation

The International Journal of Design in Society, Volume 7, Issue 2, April 2014, pp.67-86. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: April 11, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 941.614KB)).

Jaspal Kalra

Academician and Craft Consultant, Fashion, India

Jaspal Kalra is is presently working as a consultant with Judy Frater for design and skill development project for artisans in Kutch, India. He recently completed master's in fashion with dessertation project on product development using Chikan embroidery. He has taught at various design institutes in India, namely Pearl Academy, NIIFT, SIFT, and more. Prior to academics, he was associated with the design industry for more than a decade working with various design houses and retail brands.