Textile designer and historian Rahul Jain was born – and lives and works– in New Delhi. In 1993, Jain set up ASHA, a workshop of traditional Indian drawlooms in Varanasi. ASHA weaves patterned samite, lampas, double-cloth and velvet textiles, modelled on Indian, Iranian, and Turkish fabrics. ASHA's woven images, motifs, and textures are inspired by Mughal, Safavid and Ottoman silks, and are made in pure silk, gold and silver. As a centuries-old Indo-Iranian art nears extinction, Jain discusses the importance of continuing this ancient craft today, and his fascination with the materials.
You know I’ve always been interested in textiles that start loosing their textile quality, their fibre like quality and start encroaching into the territory of another medium.
We work with pure silk and we also work with precious metals like gold and silver. I describe my creative practice as a continuation of a heritage, of a legacy that is really two thousand years old. That I am merely someone who continues an enormous contribution that has been made over the centuries by many people of the world, many cultures of the world. Tens of thousands of craft people, artists and designers that have worked with the craft that I practice and very importantly, even though I am maybe the face of my workshop, I also see my contribution as being inseparable from the craftspeople who work with me and it’s really their work that I celebrate in instances like this where an artist must collaborate with a traditional maker. It can’t merely be about my creative impulse, my creative output. So I see my role as an enabler as opposed to the artist that walks away with the credit.