People

REMARKABLE RESILIENCE: PROJECT AIPAN

Preetika Sah is a designer from the Indian Himalayas we collaborated with to create a collection inspired by the traditional folk art of her community. The Aipan tradition is slowly diminishing through the age of time, and in a community where art is so intrinsically interrelated with their culture, to lose one is to lose the other. 

Over the years, many from Kumaon have migrated to cities and markets are now selling instant available Aipan art, under these changes the artistic expression of Aipan has been practiced less and less. Determined to revive the culture, Preetika created Project Aipan as a continuation of the narrative that existed in the generations before her. It is through Preetika’s efforts with Project Aipan that we get a glimpse of what enduring tenacity looks like.

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Can you share more about Project Aipan?

Project Aipan is my small effort to revive the diminishing art and culture of Kumaon. The name Aipan, is derived from a form of art traditionally done by women, passed on from mothers to their daughters. When I think of my childhood spent on the hills, I think of the cold red clay my mother mixed with water to create a canvas, and we would create intricate geometric patterns of the Aipan art with rice paste. Drawn on walls and doorways as a guard against negativity and evil, Aipan holds great significance in our culture as it marks festivals, celebrations, births and deaths in the Kumaon region.

 

What is your motivation behind deciding to continue the narrative of the Kumaoni culture?

“We shape our dwellings, and afterwards our dwellings shape us.” – Winston Churchill.

Home is a special place for everyone, and I think it’s a motivation big enough for you to be able to relive and represent those moments you have experienced.

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What did your family think of your efforts in Project Aipan?

My family has always been supportive of all my efforts, Project Aipan has been very special to us! Coming from a family that weighs happiness by passion and creativity, they were proud to see that I was able to make people so far away from home aware of our culture. My father, who is usually a reticent man, recently told me how proud he is of my work and the conversation it inspired beyond our community.

 

Were there moments where you felt discouraged by the progress of Project Aipan?

Not once did I think that the progress of Project Aipan was discouraging. What matters the most is to take small steps forward in the right direction, I am positive everything will make sense in the end.

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You mentioned that you want to create dialogue through Project Aipan, to make people aware of the existence of the Kumaon culture and inspire more people to work towards preserving it – has there been moments of that?

I am certain there are more people than before that know of Kumaon now. My friends, family and colleagues have largely been instrumental in creating this dialogue by word of mouth. A colleague of mine, his mother bought a pair of pants in the United States and she loved them. Others have similar stories. Every time people wear those pants, they will have a story to tell. There have been various instances where people were curious to know the story behind the prints and how it related to my culture.

 


With everything going on in the world today, it’s a pulsing reminder that there is still a lot of room for change and progress, especially for women. But celebration coexists with struggle and now, more than ever, we want to celebrate the remarkable resilience of women, individuals who find the strength and passion to go on despite their circumstances.

Tell us about a female figure in your life (who’s not your mom, because we all know they’re #1 in our lives) that embodies remarkable resilience at hello@matterprints.com