• Description
    Legendary creatures and qualities from Hindu mythology & tales

    In India animals play a great role traditionally, some are worshipped being representative figures of god, some are considered incarnations of deities and most of them come from the mighty tales like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Hindus believe in reincarnation, we always reincarnate, it is a constant cycle, so all living creatures have souls, that include trees and plants, the end of the reincarnation cycle end when we find Moksha or Nirvana.

    This piece is a metaphor that conveys human qualities from animals that are worshipped in the Hindu relgion. Each animal is worn as a symbol of empowerment. So to start on with the dear, an animal often known for non-violence, peace, calm and is also considered a protected animal that connot be tamed by humans. The Hindu faith associated the deer with the goddess Saraswati, who represents knowledge, music and the arts. As the consort of Brahma (The creator) and the wife of Vishnu, the goddess is responsible for the birth of the Vedas (Hindu Scriptures still used to this day), the oldest sacred text of Hinduism. In one myth, Saraswati takes the form of a red deer (called Rohit). Since she is the goddess of learning, men who saw themselves as intelligent would wear deerskin for clothing and sat upon mats made from deerskin.

    Then comes the tiger. Tigers occupy an important place in the Indian culture. Since ages, it has been a symbol of magnificence, power, beauty and fierceness and has been associated with bravery and valor. The tiger also has a significant place in Hindu mythology as the vehicle of Goddess Durga the godess of courage.

    Then comes the peacock. In Hinduism, Peacock remains in Lakshmi's presence, the goddess of good compassion, fortune, and fortitude. He also has a connection with Hindra, the god of rain and thunder, whose waters give a new look and life to the earth — hence considered as a form of support. Peacocks are also known as harbingers of rain which is a very helpfull way to signal the outpouring of rain to the farmers.

    In hinduism and buddhism the meaning of the elephant ressemble. In India the elephant is a symbol for power, dignity, intelligence and peace. As a symbol of wisdom, the elephant is said to attain old age and with all its wisdom. The animal is highly revered for its strength and power. With different species, the white elephant having been chosen by Buddha was because he wanted to use it for his many incarnations. The white elephant is a rare animal and their appearance today will still be considered a phenomenon of the gods. It is the most positive animal symbol known with no negative consequence. There are several lessons we can learn from the elephant and these too are used as its symbol: strength, wisdom, solitude, strong sense of loyalty to the family and intelligence. Other communities still consider the Elephant to be a strong symbol of luck. And thus the saying goes keep a lucky elephant at the door to your house so that you can get protection from bad luck.

    Then comes the horse. The Hindu tradition gives the horse a very important religious meaning. The horse in the Hindu culture is the symbol of loyalty, respect and power. In Hindu mythology, the origin of the horse comes from the “Smoothie of the Ocean of Milk” or “Samundra Manthan” in Sanskrit. This is one of the fundamental myths of Hinduism. According to this myth the first horse called Uchaisravas, a seven-headed flying horse that is the ancestor of all the current horses. Uchaisravas is one of the nine sacred treasures that the gods made emerge from the milk of milk through their milkshake. Later the myth of the horse in the Hindu culture continues with the fight between Brahma and Surya. The god Brahma, creator of the Universe and Surya, the god of the sun, competed for the ownership and possession of the seven horses in charge of pulling the solar disk. In this way the horses are responsible for the passage of the sun throughout the day.

    And finally the lion. They represent power, courage, pride, confidence. The Mauryan symbolism of the lions indicate “the power of a universal emperor (chakravarti) who dedicated all his resources to the victory of dharma”. In adopting this symbolism, the modern nation of India pledged to equality and social justice in all spheres of life.

    All of these qualities can be found in humans, or protectng human values, thus the choice to make a composition of all of these rich meanings which are understood my litterate and illiterate people who understand hindu and indian culture.

    Finally, I would like to adress the importance of color out of the realm of sarees but what it means to indians. In Indian culture, green represents a new beginning, as well as the harvest and happiness, while yellow stands for knowledge and learning. Gold represents wealth. Blue is a symbol of water, so it represents life and power. Red symbolises love, commitment, strength and bravery.

  • Description
    Life, all of creation, Matter, including the human body, is made up of these five essential elements

    Different cultures and philosophies around the world have defined the “5 elements” of life. The system of five elements are found in Vedas, especially Ayurveda, the ‘Pancha Mahabhuta’, or “five great elements”, of Hinduism. The entire cosmic creation begins from the point of the Pancha Mahabhuta.

    This piece is a representation of the five basic elements. All matter is composed of these five basic elements — panchamahabhutas — which inhere the properties of earth (pritvi), water (jala), fire (tejas), wind (vayu) and space (akasha).

    The subtlest is space and grossest is earth with every perceptive sense. The body structure is made up of five elements, but the functional aspect is governed by three biological humours. Ether and air together constitute vata; fire and water make up pitta and water and earth create kapha. Within each person the doshas are continually interacting and with nature. This is why people possess a variety of differences in behaviour and vary in response to environment due to psycho-physio changes.

    From a medical and Ayurvedic Stand-point these elements represent energy in matter. Vata, pitta and kapha are distinctly present in every individual and express themselves according to predominance of the Gunas or qualities of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Satvva, characterised by consciousness and clarity, is pure, free from disease and calm. It is responsible for the perception of knowledge. Rajas, the most active, has motion, stimulation and desires; ambitions and fickle-mindedness are a result. Tamas is characterised by disturbances in perception and activities of the mind; delusion, false knowledge, laziness, apathy and indolence are due to it. In Natya, the Sattva Guna is something invisible; but it gives support to psychological states and sentiments by means of horripilation, tears and similar other signs displayed in proper places and in harmony with the sentiments.

    From a physical point of view these elements are what compose matter and mos importantly what compose the human body, mind and soul.

    • There are 5 elements in this universe: Interestingly these 5 elements have got an interesting relationship to five senses.
    • ⚫ Eternal Sky/ Ether: Parameśvara - that in which everything is contained. The eternal sky or ether, it is only heard. Deep meditation is a way of connecting with this. It represents the space in which everything takes place.
    • ⚫ Air: Representing God Vāyu & Hanuman-movement. Purity of air is essential to our lives; so it is recommended to have open houses with large windows to allow free air movement, especially in this Covid climate. It is a common practice to burn incense, you can hear and feel the air. It represents the gaseous state of matter and is responsible for the respiratory system.
    • ⚫ Fire: Representing Gods, Agni & Shiva – transformation. Fire is an important find my man at a very early stage of our humankind. Vedic texts recommend us to gaze at the lamp and sunrise/sunset. Agni the god of fire is also worshipped by devotees. It represents form without substance and is responsible for digestion and perception.
    • ⚫ Water: Representing Gods Varuṇa & Viṣhṇu – preservation. Water can be felt, tasted, seen and heard so it has a relationship with four senses. Water is part of any religious or cultural activity and used during pooja. It represents the liquid state of matter and is responsible for fluid metabolism in the body.
    • ⚫ Earth: Representing Goddess Bhudevi & Brahma - creation. It’s believed that one has to be in constant contact with the earth by all senses. That’s why ancient sages often walked barefoot where ever possible. It represents the solid state of matter and is responsible for the physical constitution of the body. Bones, tissues and teeth are considered as earth elements.

    So considering that those who have believed in the caste system and still do also believe in the scriptures that talk about these elements. The idea here is to show that with this logic we are all made from the same sources but come with our individual qualities and flaws that creates human beauty. And knowing that we shall also end our lives in the same way and finish in the ether, the life cycle is the same for all human beings, no caste gets special treatment from mother nature, the highest caste (Brahmins) won't live longer than the Dalits so this puts all humans on equal grounds. Just to show that we all come from mother nature, birth, growth, evolution, death are not privilages to one group of human beings, we all have to go through it so why discriminate and segregate? How can one be superior to another when life offers us all the same rules. This is why for this one I chose the word "equality" to represent the tale of this piece.

  • Description
    We live a life where we seek to break free from the mud, evolve and bloom in the midst of our existence

    The lotus is a very sacred flower in India, Shri Lakshi the godess of wealth, generosity, riches, prosperity, happiness and satisfaction is often depicted holding two lotusses in her hands and is always dressed in a sari and seated or standing in a lotus. She is the wife of Shri Vishnu in mythology. The raw symbol behind a lotus is that of a very beautifull living being that blooms amidst the mud and a dirty pond. These metaphors come from my childhood stories, as being in India I started to build a collection of "AMAR CHITRA KATHAS" — A historical and very didactical comic book collection representing all Indian mythology, litterature, tales and stories. So the lotus grows from the mud, then a leaf appears, and naturally with that support a lotus slowly blooms, henceforth in the same way a human being or a community that discriminated and not offered equal opportunities can still push itself, nourish itself and even under extreme vitriol if given the right tools and support from other, or collectively, they can bloom, grow, evolve as individuals and become stronger as a community. Growing out of the "mud" to get the sunshine and get the opportunity to become the best version of a human. That is to give place for evolution, not being just survivors of life, but living pro active lives that encourage growth in any way.

    Then I added some magnolias inspired by the godess of creativity and education. Goddess Saraswati who is always clad in white, is considered as a symbol of purity and peace of mind. It is said Goddess Saraswati loves white and yellow coloured flower. Indian magnolia and marigold are yellow flowers that are offered to impress the Goddess of Wisdom and Knowledge. With these qualities humans as individuals or a community can grow with dignity. the way they wish not under duress.

    The caste system discriminates, hence de-humanises, rips of every inch of dignity from any victim so flowers were the right choice to encourage that message of growth, evolution, prosperity and support. One gains back their dignity, or can retrieve it if one wishes to. The rest of the piece withholds mainly these flowers with just a few more and then it is all absorbed into the textures to make it seem like a whole. Hindus believe in reincarnation as a cycle until, like buddhism you attain nirvan then the cycle stops. In that cycle you become any living creature according to your karma and actions. Living creatures mean plants and trees too, not only animals. So thats why the metaphor seemed judicious. To conclude if you plant a seed, give it sunlight and water with the necessary care, like giving a human love and equal opportunities, education and basic humanity you grow from the earth, create a foundation, once you see the sunlight it will nourish you to grow a stem. Give that society/individual more water (equal opportunites, all forms of access to education and support) and the stem will become stronger. The bigger and thicker it gets the mor autonomous it becomes and slowly reaches and directs itself naturally to its core source of nourishment that is the sunlight. The community becomes bigger and bigger. Then once the stem is strong enough, leaves will pop up and give more access to absorb more nourishment and support. This is the story of this piece which represents an individual, a community or a society as a whole. Once the tree has leaves and can support itself, flowers can bloom, that shows a certain individual beauty on a tree. In the same way if people are treated with equal rights and dignity they can show their true color. Once it becomes a flower, fragrance will spread, the leaves fall and slowly in this long but natual process a fruit will emerge. A litteral form of nourishment, each individual can now share the support they once recieved. The fruits are picked up from the tree once ripe, others will fall and if not eaten will perish in the soil, give it strength and most of all add a new dozen of seeds. Hence a new generation grows, withholding with them the support of the past generations and support from around. And this is a cycle of evolution, growth and transmission of knowledge.

  • Description
    We dream of a society where we can grow as a community and evolve together as equal human beings

    This piece is a more tamed down piece with one simple element repeating itself. It is an ever evolving flower. If you look at it in detail it has this animated feeling where there is a constant rotation. The flower is an abstract one representing a more modern take on the messages I would like to convey.

    Like the title says it is more a pictural representation of a growing form which represents the community, each petal representing a human individual. The flower grows and grows and is placed over a powerfull green, which represents a powerfull beginning and a powerfull strong society. Like the image of a green farm giving food and wealth to the surrounding villages even though under the scorching sun & the drought, victory prevails with hard work and faith.

    This piece is also the closest form to abstraction where as the others have clear understandable images, here I used 3D to depict a contemporary approach to the messages I was trying to convey. This every rotating flower that just seems to be able to grow leaves from all the ten directions. Referencing also to a form of geography as mentioned before with the green. So this is a demonstration of growth and evolution in the north, north-east, north-west, east, west, south, south-east, south west, above & below.

  • Description
    Ignorance is always afraid of change

    This piece is ispired directly fro the roads of India, when you see the shop stalls, packagings, posters, and hand painted typography, they have a tendancy to sometimes stretch the typefaces. So it is a direct reference to India in this visual sence. After the message is clear in the sentence itself.

    Here I chose more of a color combination, red as an affirmative political color and green as one of the national colors of the indian flag. I would really like to put the accent on EDUCATION here. As long as people are not educated, the society won't evolve, or won't grow and change. It will stay afloat and simply not do anything. Of course for change things hae to move and there is discomfort for all classes and castes.

    It is like changing a bad habit. When I say ignorance I am talking about the people that refuse change in the society, they seem afraid because they could loose their positions of power. And of course being ignorant makes you afraid of change, because had you been educated you would know or be able to oversee the obstacles and imagine something new, leaving place for the newer generations to develop their own identities free from castism.

  • Description
    Inspiring advocates for social reform

    Social reform is what society needs when it still expresses traits of discrimination, so this one shows people who have fought for equality and against the caste system. There are advocates for human rights who are victims of the caste system. Also people who managed to liberate themselves from the conditioning of their caste background, evolved and helped elevate their community to something more than just a burdened community with a lower caste title.

    These people are recognisable to most indians as they have come out of the trenches to express their innovative and at the time contreversial opinions about the caste system. They symbolise faith and inspiration that one can liberate ones self from this imposed conditioning and can be free to do what they want in life and not what the system or the higher castes determine you should do. These inspiring people show that there is a way, even though tough, you can get your freedom as an individual, express yourself and be treated like an equal human.

    The indian constitution was written in 1950 and Mr. Ambedkar helped officially create the lwas to make the caste system illegal. He is a very recognised persona, respected and even worshipped as he help a lot in terms of social reform.

  • Description
    Same soil, same nation, shared culture and same anatomy but marginalised as less than human

    This saree has a lot of it expressed in the title alone. The aim was to show different parts of indian culture, a culture rich and diverse for such a big population. Here we can see different elements that most of the hindus would recognize or could identify as a symbol of religious belief, marriage celebrations, temples, worshipping animals who represent gods & goddess.

    Different clothing, the use of the saree, jewelery. Most importantly there is a human being with his anatomy shown. We can his whole body composed of a face, two arms, two legs, ten fingers and ten toes. Deeper into the human illustration we can see half of his body covered in skin and the other half dissecting what is under, so muscles, bones and organs. All this to say that in such a vaste country full of diversity, culture and traditions we as human beings, in this case as indians share the same actions, eat the same food, worship different gods under the name of the same religion, practice prayer and have the same anatomy.

    So how can someone proclaim he is superior to another human being, how dare that person dehumanize someone to such a low level. Justice is needed in this culture that is shared, we are human after all, not less.

  • Description
    Don't divide in the name of religion

    This is also a typographic one where the words speak for themselves. I have not written these sentences but have taken them form Dalit manifestations against brutality and discrimination. We all know that the caste system in based an a 3000 year old tradition, but initially it comes from the hindu religion. And India already having a divisive problem with religions, creating discrimination in the same religion just creates high levels of segregation. So this piece is also self explanatory and I wanted to put the accent on "Don't divide in the name..." is underlayered by DISCRIMINATION and under "Religion" is HATE. It is a bit of a strong statement but it's just to show what I as a designer and others observe, and by showing this maybe people who are concious about the hate that is created can see that they are missing the point of their practice. I am no one to judge, just looking at it through an objective lens from far away and observing. If religion is supposed to bring people together, here we are talking about hindouism where under the same religion people worship different gods but respect each other. Because the faith is the same, the goal is the same, the beliefs are the same with mild differences depending on the gods worshipped, so why discriminate and separate people that just want to practice their faith the same way ads you or others?

    So here the word CONSENT was very important to me, as people born under the same religion are separated without their consent by the caste system which completely contradicts the sense of collectivity and the necessity of a belief or religion bringing people together.

The creative process was very interesting, it demanded a form of journalism at first, and a lot of discussions with aunties, uncles, cousins, friends from India and also people who are well educated on the subject concerning Dalits. So the project started with a lot of information hence a very dense and multilayered design. The tools I used in the beginning were very tech-related, with machine learning and other forms of image processing and abstract 3D floral forms. The medium approach was inspired by poster designs. Quickly what popped out was a very European "plakatif or posterish" approach also with the contemporary typography choices. So that's when things became more clear in terms of narrative and what form the project would take. it was obvious that these sarees are being designed and made for people in India who live in this daily context of discrimination and not for the west. And wearing one of these sarees is an act of power, activism and courage against this illegal caste system. So from then onwards inspiration came from mythology, religions, culture and traditions of India put into a modern context whilst keeping an "old school"(with a special choice of colours) design look which was more adapted to the project and India's designs.

Given that the project does not want to acknowledge any caste in the sense not make one saree per caste, but ideally recognises everyone as equal and wants whoever feels concerned about the issue can wear it. The name of the project is "Annihilate the caste system". Never do I mention that one caste is bad or good I only inform on the website of the order of the casts and who the victims of the systems are, mostly the Dalits, all in all, I just do not want to acknowledge it and I consider that whom every is invested in affirmative action and change will wear these saris. As opposed to what the government is doing by handing out caste certificates which just perpetuates the issue. So they are not only for Dalits but also for other castes and Indians in general. Even though Dalits are the biggest victims here if the people from the upper castes who still live by this system start to support a new era of change, they too should be able to wear these saris and also become activists in their own right.

“There is a significant meaning attached to the traditional saree in the form of a fabric with different colors and distinctive designs. The numerous designs and patterns engraved on the saree symbolize beliefs, conventions and customs of people belonging to different parts of India.”

So the design process was very difficult at first, but the saree was the right choice because it is one of the only garments that transcend all socio-economical classes. A traditional garment that was worn 2000 years BC So worn by everybody in India, rich or poor, young or elderly, by all religions & from all states. So firstly, to find the right textile and process it was great because it is a strip of cloth so it generates minimal waste and minimal stitching. Silk, polyester, embroidery, silkscreen printing or digital printing are the main printing processes used. After discussion with some people in India about my design choices, digital printing was the way to go given the level of detail and complexity in the designs and also the budget. Not only for production but it was also thought through that every socio-economical class should be able to purchase such a saree. So I went for digital printing on "Cotton Voile (77g/m2)", this choice was made after multiple trials on different kinds of cotton with the precious advice of my mother who explained to me the reasons for which cotton would be most pragmatic for Indians to use. So this one was the best choice in the big realm of kinds of cotton that they had proposed to us because it is very light and nearly transparent if put through light. And the choice is that sarees should be comfortable mostly worn in South Asian countries, for this project India, with high temperatures so it has to be breathable and cooling. And the digital print renders very well on this light cotton. So the choice was right and tested.

Finally for the process, here I will talk more from a technical stand-point as the stories about each piece are explained in the project descriptions. I had the constraint of a large format and the idea was to use images of elements that made a narrative sense. So there was firstly a pixelation issue as we are talking about 500cm × 115cm. So I decided to put all the images (that came in very poor sizes like 300 pixels of width) to a certain size and an unreasonable resolution (very high), accepting any form of pixelation as there was a processing plant. So first I made the images big, then I put them in bitmap mode with a sort of half tone processing which separated the images into dots and then gave each image their own monochromatic colour for meaning. From there the images lacked identity and also needed to be cohesive to be able to create a system for the whole collection. So there had to be a certain visual language translated systematically over the eight tissues. And also if I wanted the collection to grow I have reference points that preserve the identity of the project. So from there onwards, I created a custom halftone texture by designing crossing sinewaves — which are a very direct response to the issue of crossing cultures, sharing points of view and not discriminating but mixing, so this was a small message on a subtle level — that was absorbed into the bitmap texture of each image. Then on top of all the sarees was a layer of saree patterns in the form of squares or pixels with a little glitchy texture. Then to not have just flat spot colours on the background with these textured elements dropped over, as it felt very bland to the narrative, a whole wavy texture was added on the surface to bring all the elements together and henceforth all sarees became much more cohesive and part and parcel of a whole. Then what consolidated the whole structure and system of the collection was the typography structure. This is the final layer that puts the cement onto the system and defines the identity of the collection. I chose a neutral modernist typeface called "Continental" which worked very well for Latin characters and then a modernist sans serif (or non-calligraphic) Devanagari font for translations in Hindi. The two fonts needed to have the same or a similar level of contrasts typographically speaking. Given that India is such a big country and that there are so many languages spoken, English is the most spoken and then Hindi therefore I chose to put English first and then Hindi.

Also, a very important note on the designs of the project is that they are very illustrative, the reason behind this is that I wanted to consider everyone, people who are illiterate (who don't have access to education) but who understand the imagery and can create their narratives through the symbolism and iconography of their faith and beliefs. People who are literate and also more analytical people who can create their own stories by analysing what they see.

So on the top left corner in the title of the saree. The bottom left is the whole series project name. In the centre a non-rhyming poem about the caste system. Then on the bottom right in English and Hindi a single word expressing a word taken from anti-caste manifestations. and finally above that laws from the Indian constitution reminding the illegality of such a system, in English and then on top in Hindi. The positioning of these elements were very important and calculated so that we could see the poem and words most importantly. The rest is secondary so it is seen if the person wearing the saree unfolds it in a certain way. Also to be noted as the saree has many folds, the poem was written in a structure that each phrase or sentence is independent from the poem as a whole so depending on the way the saree is worn and the height of the person these elements can move differently so we see different parts of the poem.

These sarees are a new modern take on this traditional garment and are made for the younger generations too, for them to wear this iconic strip of cloth proudly with an activist tone encouraging them to keep in touch with their roots but also acknowledging that traditions have to evolve and some even have to radically change. It is even shown in the photos that we have used crop tops for more relaxed wear and the petticoat (a long skirt that is normally worn under) is not mandatory. So for change we can do that by actively participating instead of ignoring the issue if we feel concerned by this issue. But it is good to see that the government are already taking action or at the least trying but it is going to be a slow process but affirmative action is already a good start to any form of discrimination. But people who witness caste violence in India simply know that if it is there, something is to be done.

To conclude, there was also the ecological questions that came up, using a strip of cloth meant minimal waist but I also found a distributor that respects and has a GOTS certificate, meaning that thw raw cotton farms have a minimal water use policy, so it is a closed cicuit. No heavy metals, chemicals or GMOS. Only organic additivs added so that the cotton is completely biodegradable. So the raw cotton coms from farms in Pakistan, and then the rest of the process, meaning bringing the raw form of cotton to tissue is done all in Poland, where the printing is done too. The standard in terms of anti-pollution are very high and trustworthy. So the company really tries to watch their carbon footprint. Also while sending a package 1m2 of forest is planted.

  • Here is a little list of things where they have to comply :
  • Organic fibers
  • Neutral for the environment crops
  • Certified suppliers
  • Eco-friendly print technology
  • Minimised consumption of water and chemicals
  • Eco packaging and shipping
  • GOTS Certificate - Global Organic Textile Standard
  • Compliant pigment inks
  • High quality certified fabrics
  • High work standards