The rural Indian landscape is beautiful, whether it’s the incredible Himalayas, the dramatic scenery of Kashmir, the barren Thar desert or the exotic riverways of Kerala. When you think of India you often imagine densely populated cities bursting with people, but this large country also has some stunning less inhabited natural environments.
The rural landscape is ever-changing as the young are drawn to cities to make their fortune, often supporting their families living in more rural areas. Agriculture remains fairly undeveloped, cultivation methods in large, still rely on the old ways with ploughs drawn by yak or cow and crops cut by scythe. There is no doubt that the toil and labour of rural life is hard. The south of India, suffers the additional burden of drought and crop failure with many families living a hand to mouth existence, a harvest failure can be detrimental.
The NGO we are proud to work with was established to help alleviate the suffering of rural families, who faced the ongoing struggle of drought. By investing time and training in women from these communities, this NGO successfully provides a supplementary and consistent income for farming families, as well as providing an independent income and purpose to over four hundred women, empowering them to make their own money. That’s not to say production is always smooth. The monsoon season can have a serious effect on productivity. Often the women work outside or in their villages and quite rightly are not happy to work in the rain and many become busy working on the land. This means we have to plan ahead with our orders to ensure we are well stocked. We love this part of the production, and believe it makes this collection even more unique. The beautiful handwoven baskets and wall art, in our view, are certainly worth the wait.
The Indra Coil collection is not only aesthetically appealing but beautifully crafted. Living in the UK where everything is accessible, we sometimes forget how much rural living requires initiative. Even the thread that binds the coils of each basket, is spun by hand. Jute carefully entwined to make strong thread. The women gather and chat in groups, sharing life stories and experiences. This year, we've launched the new Sadie and Idana basket wall art, handcrafted using the same techniques as the Indra Coil baskets, these decorative pieces show off the intricate skills of the NGO who makes them.
All this combines to create a rich story, making each product so much more than just a basket. Somehow it manages to build a connection between these mothers, daughters and sisters in rural India and brings their story right into our own homes.