ṣūf

MR21102
Wool-felt from the nomads of high altitude mountains of Himachal Pradesh & Thebvo of Kuzhami people, Nagaland.
Spoken for
ṣūf means wool.

This shawl that pays homage to the sheep rearing, hand spinning and weaving tradition of nomadic shepherd communities that still walk the high mountains of Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh. I have had the first hand experience of walking through the mountains in their company, observing them spin wool during each rest-break, while constantly chanting prayers towards a smoother future journey. This substantial textile has provided them protection through extreme winters and has continued to be made using ancient original skill, unchanged and altered for thousands of years.

The only other textile that I felt suited to its substance is Thebvo, Indigenous textile skill of making fibre out of stinging nettle plant.

Here is a shawl called ṣūf, unmistakably true to its character.

When I see this shawl I think of all the rugged high mountains I climbed feeling utterly proud of my adventure, suddenly standing hopelessly short in front of the courage of a single woman shepherdess guiding thousands of sheep through these mountains, days upon days!

That Sufi(ness) of a single shepherdess in the giant mountains.

In the midst of that aloneness, that coldness, a warmth of ṣūf.




The first time I heard that there is a possible explanation of how the word ṣūfī (صوفی) could have come about, I had the most epiphanic realisation of the importance of textiles in our present understanding of life. The explanation says:

“Islamic mysticism is called taṣawwuf which means literally, “to dress in wool” or ṣūfi. The name derives, most probably, from ṣūf, wool, and refers to the rough woolen garment (jubbat ṣūf) with which ascetics, mystics, and prophets have been associated since biblical times. Sufis themselves prefer to point to another derivation: the root ṣ-f-w, which, in various verbal forms, denotes "purity" (ṣafā) and "[divine] choice" (ṣafwa, iṣṭifā).

Sufi al-Rudhabari (d. 322 AH) said, "The Sufi is the one who wears wool on top of purity.

But even though Sufis wore ṣūf, wool, from the very beginning of Islam, the word “Sufism”, according to Arab grammar, is not a derivative of the word ṣūf, and not whoever wears suf is a Sufi.”
For voice of Thebvo makers and community please see blog. The proceeds from this textile are intended towards Thebvo project "artisans at ease".

Buyer Empowerments

Intrinsic
Value
Wearable textile made with ancient sheep rearing, spinning, weaving techniques, that are slowly being abandoned in modern context. Hope of rejuvenation that a textile that has lasted the test of thousand of years, can still enthral the makers and wearer’s senses.Combined with this protein fibre is the ancient cellulose based textile of Nagaland- Thebvo made of stinging nettle plant. A harmony of two indigenous textiles that are integral to human evolution.
Creative
Aspect
One of a kind wearable heirloom that collages indigenous techniques of various natural textiles of the Himalayas and the foothills, including North East India. Patching together different density, textures, weight of these different textiles has been a challenging feat that brought me in closer collaboration with my mother, Madhu, our stitching technical head and Gurmel Singh, our only tailor.
Helf-Feel
Substantial
Weather/ Mood
Your warmest thing on the coldest days.
Longevity
Sturdy, long-lasting- “lifelong” in their words, making it a generational heirloom. Texture will grow with time.
Care
Okay to dip-wash with mild detergent, without wringing. Do not hand dry as wool tends to be a shape shifter in wet form. Dry clean is recommended if one does not want to take the pain of looking after pure wool. “Made to not be fragile”. Seasonal “Airing” in shadow, not direct sun.
State
Ready to wear
Soul
100% natural, organic, hand-made, from nature-back to nature. Something to grow old with and then pass it on to loved ones. The ruggedness will grow gentle with time.
Drape
Warm, Elegant, Cloak-like, Natural-appearance, Grounding
Concerns
Addressed
Made in rural household. Weaves made by artisan at home in available time- supporting farming lifestyle.
Direct connect with artisan. Reverse pyramid model- Fair benefit to all makers and facilitators.
No bargaining with artisans. Mutual decision-making.
No deadline/ pressure based work environment made with need-greed, human-nature balance.
Made with intentional non-injury.
Slow production- slow movement product.
Well-being Properties
Thermal insulation, Moisture absorption, UV protective, completely bio-degradable, Climate conscious
This Thebvo is made by Indigenous Kuzhami community with assistance of Thebvo project est 2014, Nagaland.
Wool textile made by the nomadic community that walks from Spiti and Lahaul valleys finding greener pastures for their sheep.
Stitching by Gurmel Singh, Jalalabad, Punjab.
Disclaimer:
Imperfections in the weaves reflect handmade
Irregularity in the dyes reflect natural process
Innocent spots in the textiles reflect being homemade
A work of nature cannot be sterile and error-free
A choice to still buy what we make is a step
Towards supporting original culture
Of people
Of nature
Of craft

A celebration of humanness.
Mora Collective 2023
designed by: MIDTOAN
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