Design in India permeates everything we do. Its in our clothes, our buildings, our temples, even in the pots and pans we use in the kitchen. In this plentiful land of many seasons and myriad languages, of ancient civilizations and constant influx of new peoples; every material possession has become a canvas for expression. It could be a simple ‘ughaldan’ – a large brass spittoon – that needs ‘Kalayi’ kali, or a fine silver coating before it can be used; a small metal chest used perhaps only to store pretty baubles, just has to be a filigree one and an every day garment like an ‘odhni’ (stole) needs embellishments before it can be used. We don’t do simple.
But how would you know of all this? What tourist map would mark the small mofussil towns in Odisha where a Panika or a weaver weaves natural dyed cotton yarn and decorates it with special motifs so you could identify the wearer’s tribe? Would you ever get to see an artisan engrossed in weaving Khesh fabric from old up-cycled sarees? How would you ever witness a block printer transferring age old patterns on to a piece of cotton fabric using traditional wooden blocks?
Experiencing a country through its craft and textile heritage and the lives of its artisans is understanding it at a sensory, tactile level, not available to a regular traveller. A Jaypore Journey is an uncommon journey because it leads you straight into the heart of clusters where artisans and craftsmen are still using centuries old weaving and printing techniques and exquisite embroideries to create fabrics that appeal to a global, urban consumer. These are immersive experiences because of chats and interactive visits led by a textile design expert and local artisans nurture our understanding of the various weaving and printing techniques and the historical context as it shapes India’s contemporary textile culture.
A Journey into the heart of the communities is a peek into the secret microcosm of India’s very culture. Reflective in the art, framed in old forts and sold in the local markets, we channel our way through these places with experienced textile designers and scholars. As a recent traveller, Mathilda, says, “Thank you for giving us an introduction to Indian craft, the journey has only just begun.”
Watching an artisan at work can be a powerful moment that will almost always leave you with a startling realization of the skills required to create a metre of intricate handmade fabric, a traditional painting or an engraved wooden chest. The moment a tie & dye pattern maker unravels the dyed fabric to reveal a familiar design is a memorable one. You won’t forget seeing a silk warp and weft being woven into an incredible gorgeous Banarasi saree, watching it emerge in front of your eyes with the clack – clacking of the loom. Exploring a land where opulence is woven into rich silks and cottons and where the finer things are detailed in the embroidery of elegant garments and accessories gives you a whole new perspective on an ancient culture. Elizabeth Verghese, a recent traveller, puts it eloquently when she says, “I can still remember all the colours and experiences of our trip. We loved our direct interaction with the printers and weavers. The overall experience was positive and most ‘special’ was meeting the artisans, which is was what we’ve come away with.”
An extension of Jaypore’s commitment to reviving old and dying traditional crafts, Jaypore Journeys are a collaboration between Jaypore and Breakaway, curating trips to places across the length and breadth of the country. It is a quest to find those achingly rare, sometimes simply elegant and often magnificent pieces of handlooms and handicrafts; the most beautiful things from India, and bring them to the world. A bunch of multi faceted domain experts in different fields, be it Textile Design, Gourmet World Cuisine, Wellness, or Creative Writing, all intrepid travellers at heart who help us see rather than look , listen rather than hear and quietly sculpt our trip with an unimaginable dimension.They pack their passion in Indian textiles and crafts, years of experience in the industry of trade, design and production and individual experiences into our expedition making one trip worth a thousand counts.
“More and more people are no longer content being observers, and through our Journeys, we curate experiences, and sculpt our trip with an unimaginable dimension, filling in travel blanks by being part of singular inspiring encounters, simply, authentically and profoundly.” – Shilpa Sharma: Founder Breakaway and Co-Founder: Jaypore.
With a typical Jaypore Journey, inveterate travellers, global itinerants, textile enthusiasts and those restless souls who journey for journey’s sake will be able to dive right into the heart of India and experience one of the most appreciated traditions of the country while meeting some of the finest craftsmen and connecting with the stories that have kept traditions dating back to the 15th century alive and relevant in today’s cultural and economic landscape.
Breaking away from the beaten path, you could land into a textile trail in Ahmedabad and Kutch; riding through a riot of colors, taking back unique experiences and many stories for dinner time. You could find yourself right in the midst of the gossamer weaves of Maheshwar, or you could find yourself mesmerized by a master weaver diligently weaving an impossibly delicate Pashmina shawl – one of the finest fabrics known to man.
Jaypore Journeys infuse your travel with purpose. So slide off the map and touch the very soul of India.
Write into firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to sign up for one.
-Content & Images via www.break-away.in & Jaypore
This post was originally published in HAND/EYE Magazine.