Mura, a social enterprise, is the coalescence of over a decade and a half of experimentation with textile crafts, and a deep-seated desire to impact the lives of the most marginalised within our society.
A four-time awardee of the UNESCO Seal of Excellence, Mura’s story is a story of empowerment, of the self and of those surrounding.
Our raison d’etre
In 1998, Kusum’s daughter, then 8 years of age, was diagnosed with special needs. Faced with a lack of resources and support for her condition, Kusum managed to persuade one of the more progressive schools in the city to establish a special needs learning centre.
Kusum and her sister Prabha vowed to create an environment to empower the most marginalised amongst us. Over the years, the methods have varied, but the foundational principles remain intact!
Mura endeavours to create a craft-based ecosystem that allows all-comers to contribute according to their capabilities and supports them according to their needs.
Here is a little glimpse into the people, places and phases that got us here:
1. Exploration & Experimentation
Prabha, a journalist, and Kusum, an IT professional, had always had a keen interest in textile crafts. A chance encounter with Toofan Rafai and Dashrath Patel of NID got them hooked on natural dyes. Thus began a journey of over two decades of exploration!
Myriad workshops, seminars and training sessions followed; the Weaver’s Service Centre, Alps Industries, the Textile Technology Department of IIT Delhi. It was as if natural dyeing was a vast vibrant kaleidoscopic sea and Kusum and Prabha, divers determined to explore its deepest depths.
Experimentation with textile techniques like hand-weaving, block-printing, Ikat and kalamkari continued on the one hand, and the training of special needs persons, on the other.
One particular afternoon at IIT Delhi in 2004 was perhaps the biggest turning point. While waiting on Prof. Gulrajani, Kusum and Prabha stumbled across the Kyoto Shibori Museum Catalogue. The beautiful Shibori designs and textures in the catalogue had them drooling …literally!
Having borrowed the catalogue for a week only, they hurried back to their workshop, pulled out a needle and thread and went to work. This was the birth of Mura Shibori.
2012 brought another seminal moment, when we helped set up a permanent weaving and block-printing facility at Muskaan, a sheltered work centre for special needs persons.. It was during this period that the idea of Mura as a social organisation firmly started to take root.
In 2015, after over a decade of intense experimentation with all forms of Shibori, Mura Collective was established as part of a broader mission to use craft as a vehicle for radical change.
In our urban village neighbourhood of Neb Sarai, Mura has been a crucial source of supplementary income to a generation of women, many of whom still lack the agency to leave their homes lest they forsake their household responsibilities. Our extensive hand-crafted Shibori process allows for flexible and favourable work conditions where they are able to work from home, at a time and pace that suits them.
3. Sharing and Looping Back
Mura Collective since its inception has aimed to take us back to Prabha and Kusum’s native Uttarakhand, and to Muragram. Our vision of a craft-ecosystem, to sustainably and equitably develop rural communities by creating conditions for synergy between all key-stakeholders (Artisans, Academics, NGOs, and Government). It is our way of giving back to the communities to which we belong.
2022 is hopefully the beginning of this looping back…