"Weaving is our tradition," Suschila explained to me, raising her voice over a ruckus click-clack coming from a nearby weaving shed at the Action Northeast Trust (The ANT) campus in New Boingaoan, Assam. Suschila and I sat with steamy chai talking over a relentless composition guided by dozens of hands pounding wooden shuttles against their handlooms in a steady beat.
Native to the city of Nawabs—Lucknow, earlier known as Oudh or Awadh, Chikankari embroidery dates back to the 17th century when it was introduced as a court craft by the Mughal empress, Noor Jahan.
Over time it spread to the cities of Kolkata, Delhi, Dhaka, Varanasi and Bhopal when court patronage was offered to the artisans. However, Awadh remained the home of this art as the finely embroidered Muslins of Chikan became a prescribed requirement of the Mughal Court. The word chikan comes from the Persian word chikaan meaning drapery.
For over five years, Emily Green has been working in the artisan sector, and is dedicated to improving the livelihoods of craftswomen throughout Peru. With her established retail brand emiLime handcrafted, she has taken her passion to new depths.
In 2003 while on an internship at the Julcani mine in the village of Hunacavelica, Peru, geologist Jose Alberto Vizquerra reached out to his mother Mercedes Benavides and asked if she could somehow help the ladies of the village find work. The mine was expected to close and Vizquerra hoped that with his mother’s ingenuity and connections that she would be able to help the villagers find a new line of employment.
The devastating earthquake of 2010 has created endless difficulties, yet unexpected opportunities for artisans throughout Haiti. Papillon Enterprise, Haitian Creations, and Peace Quilts are a few examples of companies who believe that beauty and craft have the power to be a catalyst for change. Handcrafting skills have become a therapeutic tool for coping with trauma, a way rebuild a sense of community, and an outlet for creative expression.