The Benarasi brocades of Varanasi, Jamdanis of West Bengal, Chanderis of Madhya Pradesh, and Mashru of Gujarat, all have one thing in common, that is an assurance of patronage by one man who has committed himself to their cause. Sanjay Garg of Raw Mango, a brand of contemporary Indian handwoven textiles, has lived by his promise of supporting craftspeople of India, not only by employing them, but also empowering them. His experience with traditional weaves, coupled with an understanding of India’s culture and art, has brought him to a 10-year-milestone that he honours with 10 limited edition objects, each a reflection of Raw Mango’s trajectory.
Titled RM 10 Objects, it includes a terracotta bull called Bail. This ancient looking bull symbolises how history and craft are timeless. “The design inspiration comes from an Iranian Rhyton from circa 1000 BCE,” says Garg.
The Bhuta is a glass armour with brass snakes which was an important protective garb for a warrior. The one in Raw Mango’s collection is inspired by the armours worn by Theyyam performers.
Another object from the collection is the Nahar, the cast iron Lion sculpture. The motif of the animal stands for supremacy. Garg believes that the Lion stands out because it can be placed in its shape and design across cultures and civilisations. Although an ancient Indian motif, it also has a design that reminds one of the motifs of Abyssinia, which lies in present-day Northern Ethiopia and the lion/feline depictions by the culture, according to him.
Another interesting object is the little off-white Jahangir, a rock crystal bowl with a ruby inlay and brass outline. Because India was known the world over for its impeccable craftsmanship, especially through the Mughal period, this piece is an ode to that glorious era.
Up until now, Raw Mango as a design house has largely expressed itself through textiles, cultural events and its retail environments. “Our interest in the human condition, socio-economic realities, design challenges and cultural touch points will find more attention in the coming years. We will continue to find new mediums of expression going forward. Therefore, each of the 10 limited edition objects has been made with different materials, techniques and forms, and each is designed in-house, extending the brand’s offering to functional and decorative objects,” says Garg.
By blurring lines of shape and form, he has synergised the design field, creating a vocabulary of homogeneous craft practice.