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Parzor Foundation


Mr. Tirlochan Singh

Executive Council

Dr. Shernaz Cama
Mrs. Piloo Jungalwalla
Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan
Prof. Armaity S. Desai
Mr. Dadi Pudumjee
Mrs. Ava Khullar

Parzor Patrons

Dr. Karan Singh
Mr. Fali Nariman
Mr. Minoo Shroff
Mr. Dinshaw Tamboly
Mr. B.G. Verghese
Mr. Wajahat Habibullah

UNESCO-Parzor at Kankaria Zoroastrian Hall, Ahmedabad, August 2005

Visitors at the Textile workshop exhibition at Kankaria hall, 6th August, 2005. Ahmedabad.
A fine example of the Khaka or forbidden stitch recorded at the workshop. It was so named as women went blind working on it.
Ashdeen Lilaowala, head of the Parzor workshop, Dr.Cama, Mrs.Ava Khullar, Mrs.Villoo Mirza, Textile consultants and all participants at the Textile workshop
The rooster motif symbolic of Sarosh Yazad is found very often in Parsi embroidary. This piece is done in Satin stitch.
Mrs. Roshan Rustom Rao with SEVA karigars from interior Gujarat at Kankaria Zoroastrian Hall. Parzor textile workshop Ahmedabad

The Parzor Foundation, under its UNESCO sponsored Project on the Preservation of Culture and Heritage of the Parsi Zoroastrians has undertaken a survey of Parsi Embroidery and Textiles for research and documentation of this unique craft. This first ever research was undertaken by a student of the NID, Ahmedabad who traced its historical background, its linkages with China, from where these embroidered textiles were originally commissioned by prosperous Parsi traders trading with China, the techniques used with regard to the variety of stitches as well as the special yarn used and the fabrics on which this exquisite work was executed. While this research needs to be carried on further in greater depth, the interest in this craft among Indians and foreigners called for a resurgence of these crafts to initiate the creation of high value products for internal sale and exports. The Ministry of Textiles, Govt. of India, evinced special interest in reviving this craft, and financial assistance was provided to hold a series of workshops. These workshops envisaged under this project would not only identify the crafts persons but also train a new generation, who after intensive training and practice would bring about a genuine revival of this craft by maintaining the qualities of the original product.

With the assistance of the DC Handicrafts, Ministry of Textiles, the Parzor project held this first weeklong workshop on Parsi embroidery and textiles at Kankaria Zoroastrian Hall, Ahmedabad from the 1st of August onwards. Mr. Ashdeen Lilaowala, helped by Mrs. Swasti Ghai with the guidance of Parzor textile consultants Mrs. Villoo Mirza and Mrs. Ava Khullar, conducted it. Participants included Parsi entrepreneur and designer Zenobia Davar and Ms. Parizad Vajifdar of Mumbai, Mrs. Roshan Rustam Rao and Mrs. Dolly Bhesania, Ms. Dilshad Wadia, Ms. Shireen Bhesania, Mrs. Yasmin Patel of Ahmedabad, Mrs. Roshan Baman Cama of Vadodara among others.

Some 38 karigars, including 30 women from SEWA, and 6 Muslim karigars participated. Parzor had made an appeal through the press and by letters to members of the Parsi community to benefit from this workshop and a few members from Ahmedabad and Mumbai participated and worked with the karigars and guided them.

This workshop is the first step in introducing the designs, techniques of stitches and color combinations peculiar to Parsi embroidery to karigars unfamiliar with the craft. For example, these designs have a profusion of birds of all varieties, butterflies and other fauna not usually seen in other embroideries found in India This requires special deftness of hand and skill to execute. The aim is to sensitize the karigars to the unique features of this craft so that the resultant product is true to the original. It was decided that the rural women under SEWA, who attended this workshop would be introduced to the large embroidery frame called the 'adda' in their villages so that several of them could work for fixed hours with concentration in their work place to perfect this skill, without the intermittent disturbances due to the preoccupation with household chores while working from their homes.

Besides the techniques, the project is also endeavoring to create the original twisted yarn used in the Chinese embroidery, and especially the fine 'Sali gara' fabric which was manufactured, it appears, in Surat and sent to China for the work. Also the 'Surti ghat'and the fine jaquard material that was used needs to be revived. If the yarn the fabric and the technique of embroidery could be replicated, this would be a marvelous achievement at genuine revival. It is hoped to do this at the next workshop in Surat with the help of experts who have worked on silk development. While it may not be possible to get Parsi karigars, it is the project's aim to encourage enterprising Parsis to take it up as a business module, keeping in mind the general interest in this craft and the export potential that is available. Ideas for contemporizing as well as guidance in packaging, marketing etc would be given by experts in the field to those interested. It is our hope that some Parsis would benefit from this.

The workshop was accompanied by an Exhibition of Parsi Textiles and on the final day the Principal Secy. Govt. of Gujarat Mr. R.M. Patel, Handicrafts Commissioner, Govt. of Gujarat Mr. Parmar accompanied by Textile Ministry experts, Mr. Areez Khambatta, President of the Ahmedabad Parsi Punchayet along with invitees from all over Ahmedabad including Mrs. Mrinalini Sarabhai, witnessed a audio-visual presentation on The History of Parsi Embroidery by Mr. Ashdeen Lilaowala. Gen. Sethna, Parsi Member, Minorities Commission, Dr. Shernaz Cama, Director, Parzor Project thanked the organizers and participants. Dr. Cama appealed to Parsi youth to revive this craft and continue this great tradition.

Mrs. Roshan Baman Cama of Baroda guides master crafts men working on the 'adda' at the Parzor Textile workshop.