The Threads of the indus project is a unique hybrid platform set up in 2009 by Seher Mirza.
Formed of cross-disciplinary practice based doctoral research rooted in textile making at the Royal College of Art London and an empowerment implementation pilot in villages in Pakistan.
The project focuses on sustaining both the textile heritage as well as the artisans of the region, through investigating the qualities of indigenous craft as well as the qualities of empowerment required to bring about social change and development for rural craft communities through their own agency.
Seher Mirza a graduate of Central Saint Martins (UAL) in Textile Design (weave) and MA in Ethical Fashion from the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) founded the hybrid project concept. Seher started and set up the project following direct experience and observation in the field working on textile craft based development projects in both north and south of Pakistan with Rural Support Programmes Network and the Commonwealth Secretariat Gender section.
First, the lack of emotional connection and relationship seen between the rural artisan and her craft and second, the clearly apparent absence of change both in social power structures and in the socio-political situation of the communities after development and empowerment projects ended.
Threads of the Indus questions the status quo in conventional development projects that aim empowerment 'at' communities without collaborating and engaging with the real issues and context.
Working on the premise that no one's knowledge is greater than the other but that each can learn more about the other and oneself through exchange.
Being a design practitioner, Seher first investigated through her own understanding, relationship and bond to hand weave, her craft, for answers. It was also this very bond that she feels towards practicing her craft which lead to the understanding and belief that there is much more to the practice of craft than monetary gain.
She found just commercial incentive can in fact be detrimental and damaging not only for heritage crafts but also collective working methods that give rise to social empowerment for communities. Making incites emotions, experiences, memories, haptic and tacit knowledge. Every piece made carries with it this embodied experience and memory of making.
It was these very connections this project's engagement focused to re-ignite, evoking emotion and memory of creating a piece to add special value to craft practice that is missing in many traditional rural craft communities today.
Find out more on our village pages!
Our image galleries on each village page feature most artisans from the communities during workshops or daily activities and gradually we are building our collection. To find out more about your favourite artisan (hover cursor over image).