This collection of hand drawn silk-screen prints are the first in a new series of paintings and works on paper by Natasha Kumar. They are observations on the cultural roles available to women in India, and their individual and collective journey to empowerment.
Muka is an embroidery style in which metallic thread is couched onto a background -a precious cloth
Muka embroidery was traditionally used in tribal dowry pieces and used to judge the worth of the girl for marriage. As the Muka process is tedious and time-consuming the household duties for which the women are solely responsible dictate how much time could be spent on each piece. It is still a livelihood for women in some communities today. In the modern world media, globalisation and urbanisation has meant that Muka has changed, easier and faster techniques that superficially look the same have been introduced. The identity and purpose of Indian woman is also changing.
Folk embroidery has always been a form of expression for the women. It mirrors their lives, reflects their hidden desires and aspirations, and expresses the cultural traditions and religious beliefs of society to which they belong 1
Traditionally gold or silver embroidery was meant to express purity and used in worship rituals. Through design inspiration from the Persian culture, artisans started using real gold and silver wires to create shapes and texture that were applied to the surface of the fabric. These shapes, textures and motifs almost felt as they were ‘floating’ on the rich fabric. 2
2 Rivers, Z, Victoria, The Shining Cloth – Dress & Adornment That Glitter, Thames and Hudson Publishing 1999, Page 50 – 53