Monday 17th February
Our first stop was to a village where skilled men make tribal paintings and etch into palm leaves. I loved the comical shape of the people in the tribal painting. Men are painted to look tall and skinny
Our next stop was Pipili, a village famous for its colourful appliqué. I had been looking forward to seeing this, as I love bright colours. What a disappointment! The fabric used was such poor quality cotton and polyester, with the addition of florescent ric rac braid with large ugly stitching. On delving further to find out more we realized that it was traditionally used for decorating camels and for wedding canopies so there was never any need to make the stitching neat. Going down the back alleys we found the “factories” – a couple of people sitting in houses using a sewing machine, pleating the fabric so evenly without the use of a ruffler foot. We had seen men in the market with long fingernails (1” long), now we could see why. It was to make pushing the needle through the fabric easier.
We watched a girl make a “Somerset patchwork” medallion on a newspaper base using up the scraps of fabric. I knew she was very experienced and had made many. Later at dinner, seeing all this gave us much conversation.
Why was the appliqué so poorly made?
Why don’t they use better fabrics?
The bags in the market were so cheap, but who does buy them?
Our next stop was a small fishing village on the beach, witnessing an argument over the price of fish was entertaining and the fishing boat designs and shapes gave me inspiration for yet another quilt.
The area is famous for Konark, the sun temple a traditional Indian temple. Our guidebook said it would be a good idea to employ a guide so we employed a quietly spoken English-speaking guide to explain what it was all about. I had no idea that there was so much pornography evident on the walls of a Temple, and the guide had great delight in explaining it all to us.
Perhaps not inspiration for another quilt, but some of the carving designs would make good print block patterns.
Our itinerary said “Dinner and stay at palace” I had thought that this must be a typing error and when we arrived at a corrugated iron gate this confirmed it. The King greeted us! We made polite conversation to our room, given chai (sweet Indian tea) were shown to our room, we closed our room door and giggled. He really was a King and absolutely delightful. It was magnificent -India of the Raj days. It had been derelict and the King and Queen were renovating it, maintaining many of the original features. We had a most enjoyable evening. The Queen brought out her embroidery to show us, and showed us her homemade bead frame, she sits in her car sewing whilst her daughter is at playschool. We discussed how she had been trying to set up a woman’s co-operative to try to improve the quality of the work produced The king showed us his painting and his father said we must wait until breakfast to hear the story of why he limped…. something to do with a tiger!
We collapsed into our luxury beds.
This had been a very special day.
Could we secure some funding to return to help with their co-operative?
Over a breakfast curry we heard the story of the tiger, it was not the tiger that caused the injury but someone who misjudged the shooting of the tiger and hit him instead.
We have since received an email from the King saying how much they enjoyed our visit and how we rekindled his wife’s enthusiasm for her projects.
More to come another day!