Traditional textile skills evolved in Bangladesh over thousands of years. Today these have been combined with time-honored Japanese dyeing techniques to create imaginative quilts. Nijera Cottage and Village Industries, Rangpur, produces a line of indigo-dyed fabrics that is as innovative as its organizational structure. The autonomously owned financial entity, set up by the producers and artisans, builds solidarity and empowers the community to engage in livelihood-related activities.
The brand name Living Blue not only reflects the locally grown “true” indigo but also the cultural heritage of the people. The rural villagers call their quilts khetas – comparable to kanthas – which were traditionally created for personal use. Though different than the original robust quilts made in this region, they still demonstrate related techniques like the running stitch. Khadi, silk and poplin are dyed with indigo with the Japanese shibori tehnique to create an interesting blend of the two artistic cultures. The notable feature of these quilts is the variety of kheta stitches that enhance the blue and white tinted patterns. The result is a sophisticated use of texture, color and three-dimensional form.
Living Blue creates a line of over-dyed khetas; the embroidery becomes subtler and recedes against the deepest blue achieved by numerous emersions in the rich indigo dye bath. This understated effect displays the inventiveness at the heart of these textile creations.