19 Dec THE FORSAKEN CRAFT OF SINDH: SUSI
The geographical position of Pakistan has the influence of infused indigenous traditions of South Asia which have contributed to the identity of our nation and become a part of our heritage. The craft of hand-loom weaving has been present since the time of the Indus Valley Civilization when humans started to produce textiles to cover their body from the weather conditions. Cotton is found to be the most used fibre of that time, when there was not much variety and they made use of what was available to them.
Among the many other crafts of our region, is the craft of Susi. Susi is said to be a vibrant, multi-striped fabric that has been the identity of particular areas of the Sindh region namely; Hala and Hyderabad, which are known to be the birthplace of this craft and found abundantly in those areas. The traditional Susi is multi-colored and hand-woven as it is produced on handloom; in earlier times this entire craft was a cultural cottage industry division, but now only a few artisans are left who strive to continue with this age-old skilled craft, to keep the legacy alive. During ancient times, it was made from pure silk or a mixture of cotton and silk, then later it was made from pure cotton, then with the evolution of industrialization synthetic fibres came into being, viscose was used with cotton to produce this fabric. Women in Pakistan have vastly used this fabric to make their baggy trousers or commonly known as shalwars.
TRADITIONAL SUSI FABRIC STITCHED INTO A SHALWAR WITH GOTA
The fabric of Susi has very distinct features apart from other hand-woven fabrics, as seen visually also, hence making it unique. The pattern of fabric construction is made in a way that a single set of similar stripes is repeated to complete the desired width of the fabric. Multiple colors are used to weave the vivid pattern for the fabric, along with Mothra; which is a vertical stripe of broken lines in the weave that is also a characteristic feature of Susi fabric. This was the traditional weave for Susi since the beginning, but now with other advancements, more colors are introduced in the craft with variations for the consumers.
THESE BROKEN VERTICAL STRIPES ARE CALLED MOTHRA ON SUSI
With the onset of the fast-fashion industry, the crafts of hand-looms have declined due to the negligence of the artisans’ communities who are the only ones left to continue the legacy of our traditional craft. There has also been a shift towards power-looms which has further made the young generation focus more on machine-made goods instead of appreciating the hand-made ones that elaborate the skills of hands. Hence, the age-old craft is dying at the expense of producing cheap, mass-produced fabrics that are not timeless and easily disposed of because of short-term existence.
WEAVER WORKING ON SUSI ON A HANDLOOM
Here at Nasheman Studio, the designer himself has started this approach of bringing back the timeless essence of those crafts that are being diminished due to fast-fashion practices, hence introducing the sustainable approach of carrying our legacy. The artisans working with the brand are completely working on hand-looms to produce hand-woven fabrics that are made from organic cotton to keep it sustainable as no carbon foot-print is generated with their production. The collection which is produced includes these unique crafts and is designed in a contemporary way to make it available internationally, so that the cultural identity of Pakistan can be recognized globally.