Materials Design Lab of Nitya Amarnath
BTT / 2019
From The Flatland of Sheep and Other Species
In the sun-drenched landscapes of northern Karnataka, a bucolic story unfolds, featuring Indian Deccani sheep and skilled weavers who navigate the challenges brought by the dry weather and the coarse nature of their wool. Their journey embodies the essence of a circular sustainable economy, where every step, from rearing the sheep as cherished family members to shearing, hand spinning yarn, and weaving, is a profound community and familial exercise, without fallouts.
However, despite the beauty and craftsmanship present in their creations, the circular economy of the community faces challenges. The coarse wool, while prized within their community, struggles to find wider appreciation in the commercial market. This limits the economic growth and hinders the sustainability of their traditions. Furthermore, the absence of effective design and marketing strategies prevents the Kambli’s from reaching a larger audience.
Recognising the need for intervention, the community looks to design, marketing, and scientific advancements to review their systems.
Hāsuhokku (the organisation within The National Institute of Design), tasked with the project and the weaver families to explore alternate solutions to attract a broader market and utility. Botto lent design and technical expertise in development of yarns, urban patterns, textures, and contemporary adaptations.
Simultaneously, textile scientists lent their expertise to enhance and soften the quality of the wool, to refine and diversify its applications.
Hāsuhokku and Botto also delveded into showcasing the deep-rooted connections between the land, the sheep, the weavers, and the intricate textiles they produce.
Within this tight-knit community, the rearing of their sheep is more than just a livelihood; it is a way of life. The shepherds care for their flock with utmost dedication, fostering a deep bond. The sheep, roam the arid lands, adapting to the challenges posed by the dry weather, and in their resilience, they grow coarse hair that carries the essence of their surroundings.
Guided by generations of knowledge and expertise, the weavers of the community embark on a laborious yet artful process. They delicately shear the sheep, collect the wool, and engage in the intricate practice of hand-spinning yarn. Each thread holds the stories of the land and its people, interwoven with their cultural heritage. With skilled hands and an eye for detail, the weavers transform the rough wool into vibrant and exquisite Kambli’s, showcasing the rich tapestry of their traditions, without the use of modern amenities.
The culmination of these efforts can be witnessed at the lively Sunday market, which serves as the heart and soul of the community. Here, the weavers proudly display their creations, and a vibrant exchange of textiles and mundane stories takes place. The market becomes a celebration of their everyday, breathing life into their community bonds and sustaining their way of life.
The Kambli weavers are ready for the world to embrace their artistry, the Indian Deccani sheep and the land they call home have become ambassadors of a sustainable way of life, showcasing the harmony that can be achieved when tradition and innovation intertwine.