Retooling for the Future

by - Friday, April 17, 2009

2009 Maiwa Textile Symposium

Tuesday October 27, 2009 at 7pm
Vancouver Museum (MacMillan Space Centre Auditorium)

For well over 300 years, leatherwork has been the primary occupation of the Regar Samaj community of Rajasthan, India. This group is adept in the preparation and tanning of hides, and few could match their skill in the making of saddles, harness, or tackle. In the past they were sought after to furnish the leather armour for the cavalry. Historically, they have also produced containers for gathering and storing water and Juti, the ornamented neck belts and face decoration of herd animals.

Modern India has little need for these items, however, and the traditional skills of these artisans are vanishing. In 1976, as an initiative of the esteemed Shri Ravi J. Mathai and the National Institute of Design, a leatherwork and weaving co-operative was formed. Jawaja had two goals: eliminate toxic or ineffective stages in production and design a new line for the contemporary market based on traditional strengths and skills.

This is a story of a slow gradual success, a success with momentum that has built over the years. The stories will be presented by representatives from the Jawaja group and Ashoke Chatterjee who was instrumental in the initial formation of the leatherworking cooperative.

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