Craft in the Aravalli wilds: a window into the world of handmade arts and crafts from across India

Drive out for a bit on the Faridabad-Gurugram road to the village of Gwalpahari in the Aravallis and you’ll reach the farmhouse home of designers Meera and Muzaffar Ali. This weekend, they are hosting the inaugural edition of ‘Teh – The Exploration of Handmade’ in the grounds of their house — a window into the world of handmade arts and crafts from across India that the family has been immersed in the past few years.

“A lot of these things have been part of my life, for example, the calligraphy, book binding and embroidery artisans. Many of these people are from our ancestral home in Kotwara, UP. I was working on a series of films for the Ministry of Textiles these past couple of years. This curation emerged from that, just as Jahaan-e-Khusrau music festival is inspired from the time I spent in Kashmir while I was working on my film Zooni,” says filmmaker and designer Muzaffar Ali.

Teh – The Exploration of Handmade

  • March 16 and 17, 2019. 11 am to 8 pm
  • Address: Kotwara Nature Retreat, Rumi Lane, Gwalpahari, Mandi Road, Off Faridabad-Gurugram Road, Behind TERI Gold Course, Gurugram

Teh is an opportunity to immerse yourself in elegant, understated beauty with Sufi compositions on the airwaves and an invitation to linger amongst the aroma of Lucknawi kebabs and Fat Lulu’s wood-fired pizzas. Many artisans that I spoke with have no NCR address, or even an easily accessible retail outlet. Yet they encourage you to visit their karkhanas in their home towns and the crafts on display actually make it an attractive prospect. The 100-year-old carpet weaving house of Obeetee from Mirzapur will take you on the long journey wool carpets have taken from Persia to contemporary Indian designs. They’ve brought samples of their traditional weaves along with modern iterations arising from collaborations with designers Tarun Tahiliani, and Abraham and Thakore. Chat with cut glass workers from Ferozabad, pashmina shawl restorers and refurbishers from Najibabad, zardozi craftsmen from Kotwara, and Maheshwari saree and Kashmiri shawl weavers as you walk through the stalls.

You can sign up for a book binding workshop with artisans from Old Delhi, Meera Ali’s Awadhi cooking demonstrations, or a lesson in calligraphy. There are also screenings of Ali’s textile films and Dastangoi story recitals in the evening. Foodhall has brought an impressive range of Middle East-inspired goodies for sale. There are Himachali jams and pickles, home furnishings and ceramics for sale; coffee table books to browse through, bespoke safari and camping furnishings to marvel at, and Ducati motorcycles and Jaguar cars to gawk at. ‘Teh’ encourages you to take a moment, linger over your meal and absorb “the passion of living with craft”, as Muzaffar Ali puts it.


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