Indian families: working together for generations.
Wandering through workshops and people’s homes, on a journey to meet the artisans who craft our furniture, there was something other than a flourishing sense of passion and skill that stood out amongst the hand-crafted furniture – the powerful bonds of family. Siblings and cousins, husbands and wives, aunts and uncles, parent and child – when speaking about family, our artisans did so with warm revere.
Family is considered the most important institution in India, and that includes extended family and kinship ties. The concept of a small family is almost unheard of. Many of the artisans we meet, like the Sharma brothers, work together in the same workshops. “We’re brothers-in-law,” Rakesh, the younger of the two tells us. “I wanted to leave the village and explore Delhi.” He says, a shyness taking over him. “Ghanshyam helped me to get a job here.”
In the workshop where they dye the yarn for our Lombard rug, Miss Arti works with her mother and two of her aunts. She’s shy talking to us but lively when with the women of her family, buoyed on by their lively teasing and their energetic cackling. One of the aunts puts an arm around Miss Arti and Miss Arti’s mother; she’s fierce, telling us – “Arti is shy, but strong. We made sure of that.”
The connectedness moves us deeply, none more so that in the block-printing workshop where two dhurrie-covered tables are placed side by side – one for Harsh Kumar and one for his wife, Hemlata. I like to work with my husband,” Hemlata says with a cheeky smile. “That way, I always know where he is.”
Harsh makes an exasperated sound and their son laughs. “They’re always teasing each other,” their son says. “Out here joking around and, working together.”