The adventures of Mura

A packed room at The Leela Palace lends an ear to Kusum Tiwari, co-founder and head of the Mura Collective, a textile and garment venture which was started serendipitously as she puts it, 16 years ago. Along with her sister Prabha, she voyaged across a sea of many colours; sometimes with wind in the sails, sometimes through a storm.

The sisters were raised and schooled in Chennai, and Kusum returns from Delhi after 35 years to speak of her brainchild Mura. They first began textile production using weaving and block prints, and were introduced to natural dyes at a workshop conducted by the eminent artist and natural dye researcher Toofan Rafai. They received their first order from the National Handloom Development Corporation (NHDC).

Unfortunately, the 20 handlooms that were originally at work under Mura had to be shutdown due to Delhi’s altered city plan, which forced even licensed textile production to move outside of the city. Mura did continue however with other forms of textile craft.

Kusum subsequently fell in love with indigo, the deep, magical blue that emerges from the fermentation of a little green leaf, which was supplied from India as far back as the Greco-Roman era. Indigo-dyed fabric now makes up forty per cent of Mura Collective’s production. And then, the momentous arrival of shibori, which is a Japanese term that encompasses various methods of dyeing cloth (including tie-dye) which hail from the 8th Century. The root word shiboru means to ‘wring, squeeze, and press’. It is a process of manipulating fabric through resist-dyeing i.e. by folding, crumpling, stitching, plaiting, clamping, or twisting. Common designs according to the method are water-like (loop-binding), spider-like (pleated), and heavy rain-like (clamp). These techniques allow the fabric which is essentially two-dimensional, to visually take a three-dimensional form.

“The memory of the artist’s hands and technique are imprinted on the shape and form of the cloth,” says Kusum. The same dye and the same technique never yield the same result twice, wherein lies the mystery and uniqueness of shibori art.

It was from 1992 onwards shibori was brought to the international scene by Yoshiko Wada, president of the World Shibori Network. Kusum came across a catalogue from Kyoto National Museum, which enthralled her with images of shibori dyed cloth, and proceeded to cement the concept of Mura.

She has bridged ancient Japan and ancient India in a contemporary world of style and texture, combining the former’s techniques with the latter’s fabric and colour. Mura now has a boutique in Delhi. The company produces fabric and clothing for Fabindia, Westside, and Fairtrade Co. Japan. The garments the Mura Collective designs and creates include saris, kurtas, dupattas, shawls, stoles and even home textiles. Upon soothing, mellow hues linear, floral and other designs beget an ethnic yet fresh and diverse appearance. At the moment a theme of birds and moths is being experimented with. Mura uses both natural and chemical dyes, but the fabric chosen is preferably natural, such as cotton, linen, tussar silk, maheswari silk, and even banana fiber.

Kusum’s work has earned her venture both the UNESCO Award of Excellence for Handicrafts: 2008 South Asia Programme and the UNESCO Seal of Excellence for Handicrafted Products in South Asia 2005.

Mura becomes Muragram, as the materialisation of Mura’s textile and handicrafts village is anticipated shortly in Govindpur, Raniketh.

This event was hosted at The Leela Galleria in association with Apparao Galleries.

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Printable version | Aug 2, 2021 3:48:07 PM |

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