Every person you meet, they dress in their own unique way. Their choices of fabrics and silhouettes are all shaped by their background and the culture they grew up in. Since time immemorial, textiles have held cultural value - it speaks of your socioeconomic background, your belief system, the condition that you live in and more. Beyond commissioned tapestries and extravagant artworks by people with power and/or money, textiles speak of the clothes that the common person wore on their backs, during a particular time.
When I caught up with Pavithra Muddaya, I had the feeling of being back in school but for the first time, the history lesson was not taught through wars and revolutions, but rather through textiles and attire. Started by Pavithra Muddaya’s mother, the late Chimmy Nanjappa, Vimor was a textile brand selling heritage handloom sarees in 1974. But in the time since then, it has grown from selling original antique sarees and now includes reviving, designing and selling South Indian handloom sarees. Focusing on creating and supporting handloom saree revival the brand documents designs, techniques, and stories in order to motivate traditional weavers to continue their craft.
What started off as a venture from a small home space has now become a foundation that works with varied organizations to showcase handloom. Taking in over 2000 weavers, they found ways to help weavers grow from 1 loom to 50 looms by providing financial support as well as technical and design guidance to make it appealing to the customers. Their most important agenda is to share their antique collection with little stories of each piece and how they are important as a common heritage. Through the motifs, measuring terms and the social customs associated with textile traditions, Vimor tries to communicate the history and culture of bygone times.
During their time at the weavers’ villages, sometimes Pavithra has had to improvise and find ways to change the more conservative mentalities of the people there. One of the stories that stood out was about how they needed a particular thread for the textile they were creating and the only one available to them in the locale was the thread used to religious rites. While the weavers were all skeptical to use it doubting its effectiveness in weaving and wondering about the religious aspects of it, Pavithra showed them that it is just another thread, capable of being woven into beautiful fabrics.
Through their mentor process, they also attempt to recreate weaves whose techniques or designs are almost lost. At Vimor Museum of Living Textile, the brand is on a journey to spread knowledge about India’s handloom heritage, especially the heritage of the textiles created and worn by the laymen. Featuring forgotten and ancient weaves, Vimor museum of living textiles is set in Victoria layout in Bangalore and feature vintage pieces given to them by customers, procured during their travels and even handed down to Pavithra from her grandmother. It is a way for people to learn not just about textiles, but also about Indian handicrafts and trade relations as there are Asian motifs and Islamic designs that were featured in older textiles that they have rediscovered. The museum also creates a space for the customers to interact with the weavers and understand their lives.
Through their living museum, Vimor and the people behind it, hope to educate people on the rich textile heritage of the nation and to ensure the continuation of this exquisite craft that the nation is best at.
If you are someone who is interested in heritage or textile, Vimor Museum of Living Textiles should be your next visit. You can stay informed about the foundation on their website or their facebook page.
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