SEWA Artisans: Exchanging Cultures, Evolving Ideas

SEWA Gujarat working together with the women artisans at SEWA-e Kashmir

Peer to Peer Learning and SharingSEWA Hansiba Museum

From years of experience, working with women of war and conflict affected region of Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, we learnt that economic rehabilitation plays on key role in peace building for the women and their families and for the entire region. On invitation of Government of India,  SEWA started organising women in Kashmir, since 2010, with an exposure visit to Gujarat. This helped the women to understand how the rural women workers in other states of India, based on their local skills and available resources, could build their own micro enterprises and generate livelihoods. They could see how it helps to build economic security for women at household level. Once economically secured, women are then able to deal with their other social issues and are less vulnerable. 

Stitches Bind us Together!SEWA Hansiba Museum

SEWA’s objective was that the women artisans of Kashmir also understand the ideology of SEWA, where women come together as both women and as workers – no matter what caste, community or religion they belong to. To help them understand the values of organizing at SEWA viz truth, simplicity, non violence, solidarity, sisterhood and self reliance.

SEWA’s approach is to strengthen the livelihoods of the women workers in Kashmir through capacity building, improved value chain, enhanced production and collective marketing capabilities.

Peer to peer learning and sharing focused is on national integration. Ari embroidery Master trainer, Gangaben from Patan district in Gujarat is seen here giving training to Kashmiri artisans, as the Ari embroidery is common to both Kashmir and Gujarat.

Master Trainer Rasuben in PatanSEWA Hansiba Museum

Language is no barrier - Master trainer Rasuben of SEWA in Patan, Gujarat, is seen giving training of quality control to artisans in Kashmir.

Members themselves should be the managers and owners, thus managing their enterprise. SEWA strongly believes that, poverty is one type of violence because it is an injustice to the individual. SEWA’s main objective and motto is to make an individual capable to alleviate poverty through consistent earning. SEWA’s objective was to build a cadre of master trainers to sustain entire initiative.

Spinning Cotton on the CharkhaSEWA Hansiba Museum

Traditionally artisans spin cotton on charkha (the spinning wheel) and then they use the fabric to create different styles of embroidery.

Preparing “Dashoot” on LoomSEWA Hansiba Museum

Preparing a frabric called “Dashoot” on the loom.

Artisans creating 'Ari' on DasootSEWA Hansiba Museum

Artisans doing “Ari” work on Dasoot. Ari Embroidery is worked with the help of an 'Aar' holed needle, where the thread is introduced from below. This is also known as Mochi Bharat (cobbler’s stitch) in Gujarat. Earlier days silk thread was used on satin (Gaji) although the technique is simple in principle, it requires considerable skill and long practice.

Bed Cover Made from Leftover FabricsSEWA Hansiba Museum

Letover fabrics from stitching other items are very good to reuse to make designs for bed covers. Waste fabrics are best recycled this way rather than being discarded.

Bed Cover Ready for MarketSEWA Hansiba Museum

Bed Cover embroidery patterns, finished and ready to be sent to market.

Kashmiri Embroidery SamplesSEWA Hansiba Museum

Kashmiri embroidery has now seeped into fashion-sampling for leading designers. Local artisans work from home and send over their designs.

Craft Expert RashidabenSEWA Hansiba Museum

Craft expert Rashidaben from SEWA in Patan, Gujarat giving training of quality checking techniques that helps in transforming and sharing knowledge.

Embroidery on traditional frame “Adda”SEWA Hansiba Museum

Embroidery for fashion garment with care on traditional frame “Adda”.

Adda is an embroidery tool on which Ari or Suzni work is practiced. It is made of wood. It consists of two thin logs of wood and four wooden legs. Working on Adda, quality of work remains good and constant throughout and helps to save time. In beginning it is hard to work on Adda but once a person gets used to it he/she finds it comfortable and easy to work with.

Working from Home at GhatpalhalanSEWA Hansiba Museum

Working at home in village Ghatpalhalan. Conflicts or disturbances which are so commonplace in the area now do not affect the workflow.

In the Fashion Market!SEWA Hansiba Museum

Traditional Kashmiri Ari embroidery on kurtas (upper garment). The patterns are floral, use vines, and are densley clustered together.

Sharing Kashmir Crafts and TraditionsSEWA Hansiba Museum

It always helps the artisans to interact with more people, whether locals or tourists so that they can learn from each other more about traditions and crafts.

Traditional Suzni EmbroiderySEWA Hansiba Museum

Traditional Suzni embroidery.

Ari (Kashmiri Wall Hanging), From the collection of: SEWA Hansiba Museum
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Ari wall hanging with different Kashmiri birds motif used.

Ari (Kashmiri Wall Hanging), From the collection of: SEWA Hansiba Museum
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Ari wall hanging with birds and tree motif used.

Wall Hanging with Tree and Sparrow Motif, From the collection of: SEWA Hansiba Museum
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Ari Embroidery with Chinar Tree Design, From the collection of: SEWA Hansiba Museum
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Ari Embroidery with Chinar Tree Motif, From the collection of: SEWA Hansiba Museum
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Credits: Story

Reema Nanavaty
Parul Sagarwala
Tejas Raval
Neeta Trivedi

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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