Hemp and Nettle – Fibres of the Future

Hemp and Nettle plants have been growing in abundance in the Northern reaches of India at the foothills of the Himalayas; however their cultivation for making fibers and finished products is a recent phenomenon. Given their high tensile strength, organic nature and biodegradable values, these fibres are eco-friendly and incredibly pliable.

The plants are harvested once every year when the cold weather descends this region and their journey thereafter is a proof of human ingenuity and artisan skills. It is essential that only green plants are harvested, else the quality and strength of the stems from which the fibres are derived is greatly affected. The outer stem is then peeled off and the inner fibre extracted. It is thoroughly dried and then stored in well ventilated spaces. The dry raw fibres are then boiled along with natural sedimentation and purifying agents like wood ash, which cleans and softens them. They are bleached using a mixture of white clay, maize flour and rice chaff which further softens them while also making them lustrous.


The fibres are then degummed which essentially removes plant sugars like pectin and lignin which hold the fibers together. Rather than using harmful chemicals popular in commercial textile production, this process is carried out using still water stored in pots or running water from nearby streams which is just as effective. The fibres are now ready to be spun and woven.


Purvaai is working with this talented group of artisans to create fabrics and finished products like shoulder totes and storage bags which are uber chic, incredibly good for the environment and also reflect their creative spirit.


Parisian Inspiration

What could evoke the sense of grandeur and elegance other than the city of Paris? Every nook and turn surprises the rambler with visual delights – the shuttered windows, the quaint balconies, the grand facades of the buildings, the hints of gold on street lamps.


The city offers an abundance of inspiration for home decor. Bring the French ‘Joie de Vivre’ into your own home.




Tie-Dye….The Eternal Favorite

Bandhani and Lehariya turbans

An ancient and ever popular technique, tie-dye is a process of resist dyeing textiles typically using bright colors. While there are several variations in technique, the method basically involves patterns of color by folding, tying, stitching, crumpling the fabric to inhibit the flow of the dye into the folds of the fabric. The pattern of the folds and where the colors are squirted determines the final design.

Several variations of the tie-dye technique are evident the world over, from the Shibori in Japan, the Hausa technique in West Africa, Plangi and Tritik in Indonesia to the beautiful Bandhani, Ikat and Leheriya patterns of India.

The now very popular form of “Bandhani” derives its name from the Hindi word Bandhan which means tying up. Bandhani is an ancient art practiced mainly in Western India.

Lehariya turban

This region is also well known for its Leheriya pattern – literally meaning waves. This technique is quite different to the Bandhani as here the fabric is rolled from one corner to the other diagonally and then it is tied at intervals with strings. An astounding variety of Leheriya prints are produced using the simple process of tying and dyeing. The Panchranga technique, using five colours is considered to be very auspicious as the number five has a special position in Hindu Mythology. The Saptrangi flaunts the seven colours of the rainbow. Stripes that follow in one direction are called Leheriya, while diagonal stripes that intersect at right angles to form checks are called Mothra.

The leheriya was patronized in the nineteenth and early twentieth century by the local traders and merchants who wore turbans of bright Leheriya fabric.

This Leheriya (zigzag pattern of irregular colour stripes) is a visual invocation of the flow of water – creating a calm and restful coastal feel we gushed over in our earlier post. Especially in Indigo it shows the wonderfully varying depths of colour after multiple mud-resistant and dyeing processes. No small wonder that the blues in leheriya attract the eyes instinctively, as they did ours.

Purvaai’s Oceana tie-dye collection

Having experimented with the Shibori technique in the Spring Summer collection, Purvaai now brings to you the Leheriya pattern in its new collection ‘Oceana’ of quilts, cushion covers, tea towels and silk stoles.

Watch this space for more updates and visit us at the Top Drawer Autumn, Stand B122, 16-18 September, London Olympia.

Bidri inspired textile art

The Bahamani Sultans ruled over many provinces in India between the 13th and 15th centuries. Being great patrons of art and architecture, they commissioned Abdullah bin Kaiser, a craftsman from Iran to work on decorating the royal palaces and courts. It is believed that Kaiser collaborated with local artisans to give birth to the craft in the township of Bidar (hence Bidri) in South India. Since then the craft has been handed down through generations.

The craft process and its final manifestation, both are very intricate. Involving many steps including casting, engraving, inlaying, blackening and polishing, the resulting products are striking on account of glossy, luxurious silver set against a deep black metal background. The details of the pattern are etched by hand using small chisels and thin sheets of silver are gently hammered into the engraving.

Bidri Hookah Base exhibited at the Louvre

Contemporary Bidri products

Traditionally, the Bidri designs are patterns such as the Asharfi-ki-booti, stars, vine creepers and stylized poppy plants with flowers. Designs also include the Persian Rose and passages from the Quran in Arabic script. However, many modern interpretations of this traditional craft are surfacing in contemporary products like dinner ware, candle stands, and accessories like key rings. We hope that this will allow the beautiful craft to reach a wider audience. Purvaai is making its own humble attempt by interpreting Bidri in textile art. Our new Autumn Winter Collection pays homage to this intricate craft and its dedicated craftsmen.

Purvaai’s Bidri collection of cushions

View our entire ‘Bidri’ collection of cushions at Stand B122 at Top Drawer Autumn, 16-18 September, London Olympia.

She Sells Seashells on the Seashore

This phrase evokes a wonderful sense of nostalgia with images of long sandy beaches, sun bleached driftwood, naive string of shells hanging in the neck, reckless abandon while frolicking in the warm waters… an envelope of peace and well being.

As many of us are now taking ‘staycations’ or holidaying within the UK, English seaside scenes have also become a prominent theme on soft furnishings. For your living room or bedroom, soft furnishings and linens in aquatic colours – blues, greens and whites – will help create the nostalgia. Take a look at these inspiration images inspiring the nautical theme.

Great British Seaside

We are particularly digging this trend for the bedrooms – what wonderful calm at the end of a hectic day! Now all it needs is Frank Sinatra serenading in the background…purrfect!

Calm Nautical Oasis

This little piggy went to the market….

Fabric stacks

Can anyone ever do gluttony over fabrics? Guilty as charged! When you are surrounded by bundles of gorgeousness in silks, brocades, jamevars, linens and cottons, a fabric glutton like me attains instant nirvana. So every time I visit Mumbai, I absolutely HAVE to visit Mangaldas market, else the whole trip to India does not seem fulfilled.

Tucked away in a by-lane of the busy Crawford market in South Mumbai, Mangaldas market is THE place to visit if you are looking for a mind boggling variety in plain, patterned, embroidered, printed or you-name-it-they-have-it fabric. When you have elbowed through the sea of people outside the market (did I mention the open air stalls of goods that line the narrow lane on both sides) and enter the non-descript entrance; you will probably feel like the mouse from ‘Who Moved My Cheese’.

Maze of lanes

Well, the journey has just begun as once inside, the market is a maze, with little lanes snaking and winding and fabrics stacked from the floor to the ceiling. I was pleasantly surprised when I realized that there is a fantastic grid system in place, with each little lane numbered to create a mesh so I never got lost, thankfully.  But having become a regular now, I strongly recommend Rinkoo fabrics in 7th lane for cottons (absolutely any colour or print) and Akanksha fabrics for silks, brocades and more luxurious varieties in 6th lane.

I love having a good chat with Rinkoo Chacha (uncle) over a cup of very sweet tea, with him pouring out his triumphs and troubles of the cloth trade. The neighbouring shop owners add their two bits and joke how Chacha should be playing with his grand kids rather than hauling fabric bundles all day. Chacha pretends to grumble about his ‘lazy’ neighbours, but I know he secretly enjoys the camaraderie between the competitors.

Outside the market

Loaded with fabrics I need (and many more that I don’t), when I look back at this unpretentious Golliath as I lose sight of it once again in the sea of people, I smile wistfully and hope it survives to see a few more generations.

Spring Inspiration: Blue and Green

UK has been blessed with some fabulous weather for the last few days – a fantastic way to welcome Spring this year! And ofcourse with Spring, I have been possessed with a sense of well being looking at all the glorious blooms in my neighbourhood gardens. So I’ve decided to give my living room a Spring makeover. This season I am obsessing over the combination of blue skies and green foliage – and the abundance of both! Take a look at some of the inspiring living room decor ideas (all copyrights rest with respective websites).

Nice clean lines and contemporary shades of blue and green

Soft and peaceful pallette

Fab centre table and lamp

Having been thoroughly inspired, this is how my living room now looks – I love cushions – more the better – so the blues have been introduced using cushions made from left-over curtain fabric (the most awesome handloom silks I found in India). The crewel embroidered cushions are a gift from my mom. Ahhhh…..the tranquility of lounging here (atleast till my 5 and 37 year old football freaks come home to their resident living room football field)

Tranquil cushion-filled heaven

The very green curtains are made from handloom silk

Preserved through time!

When my genteel, hard-working grand-parents finally moved into their own home towards the end of their working life, my mother gifted them a gorgeous hand-painted panel of Lord Krishna and Radha. I vividly remember the effort and patience it took her to paint the details on a panel of raw-silk. I have been eyeing those patterns since then (over two decades, actually) and planned to paint them myself some day. Finally, I got around to painting them a brilliant turquoise and contemporized them using chunky box frames not really knowing the origin of these patterns.

So when I chanced upon this image in a book, I was pleasantly shocked (Handmade in India: Crafts of India, Aditi Ranjan and M.P Ranjan).

Sanjhi paper stencil from Mathura, India

These patterns are originally Sanjhi paper stencils of Mathura, depicting the life of one of India’s favorite mythological Gods, Lord Krishna. These stencils are still used to create rangolis, powder transfers, on the ground and on water in the temples. These scenes are cut freehand using either scissors or a blade and are often held together by just thin strands of paper. To know that I have unknowingly preserved a traditional craft is a divine pleasure indeed.

The Indian Canaletto

Canaletto's Venice

One of the most famous Venetian painters, Canaletto is famed for his panoramic paintings of the Grand Canal. His paintings capture not only the architectural facet of Venice but more significantly, the social aspect. The paintings have captured and preserved the ethos of Venetian society in 17thcentury, their customs and festivities, their pleasure choices and business dealings. Canaletto’s paintings project Venice not only as a grand city but a culturally endowed living society.

Shirwadkar's Benaras

I have been captivated by Canaletto ever since I was introduced to his paintings at a visit to the Queen’s Gallery in Buckingham Palace nearly a decade ago. So, when I chanced upon the paintings of Shirwadkar at Jehangir Art Gallery in Mumbai, I felt like I had stumbled upon the Indian Canaletto.  His depiction of the ancient city of Benaras along the Ganges, with its tall facades and ornate galleries was fascinating. But it was the depiction of social element of a completely different society, their religious customs and interactions, set in a vastly different time context that mesmerized me.

Two different artists, two different places and times, two vastly different cultures; but a common message that a city, however beautiful, is empty and lifeless without its society.