On arriving in Dhar, we are shown around by Jazzy, the charismatic village chief, who at 80 years old, has a mischievous and energetic personality, he is brilliant! His laugh is infectious as he proudly tweaks his impressive moustache before every photo, even more proudly revealing what is under his ‘Topi’ (hat) - two long, pristine plaits which fall down to his waist! One day, Jazzy leads a religious ceremony to celebrate the long life of their goddess. They sacrifice a goat before following Jazzy and the sound of the piccolo down to the next village.
The village in the sky
We are supporting Dhar, a tiny, remote village in the mountains of Himachal Pradesh where inhabitants hand-weave and spin sheep wool into the finest embroidered fabrics. With the increase of sweatshops and international clothing demand, the people of Dhar are rapidly losing their jobs to the fast production turnaround in the cities. Urbanisation has risen dramatically in the past decade, to mitigate the strains that will develop as cities expand; slum growth, pollution, sweatshops and poverty, we want to help preserve these traditional techniques and encourage local, traditional craftsmanship. Our social responsibility is fair pay and improving living conditions for all artisans and farmers involved, especially female empowerment. We want to encourage the rural way of life and the genius of tradition in this village through direct trade and intelligent sustainability, ultimately helping to reduce the transformation of an urban materialized culture.
The purpose of our visit was to shoot a documentary for Eitree - a sustainable fashion label that fuses traditional Indian textile craft with cold clean Scandinavian design. The clothes for Eitree are spun by the people of Dhar.
Om Prakash Malhotra, our Indian associate, has dedicated his life to promoting the traditional skills of local communities in this region. Eitree is working with suppliers and local rural farming communities in Himachel Pradesh to bring a fine range of high quality handloom sheep, yak wool and pure silk products to buyers. The preparation of wool, silk, cotton, hemp, and yak fibers, natural dying, weaving, cutting, stitching and embroidery continue today as they have for centuries, but they come under threat to the rapid growth of sweatshops in cities. In these Himalayan regions, textiles and weavings hold a central place in the homes, hearts and spirits of these villagers. With the threat to rural life, these ancient civilizations and traditional techniques will soon disappear. Our main objective is to support weaving villages and keep this tradition alive by donating money for loom repairs, equipment and livestock, but more importantly buying their products! For more information about buying these products, please get in touch via email.
To enquire about volunteering in Dhar, pleasefill out the form below.