SR: I trained as a painter – pursuing a BFA degree at the College of Visual Arts in Mumbai – so it’s easy for me to play with colors, shapes and texture.
What led to the formation of the Chamar Studio?
SR: In Sanskrit, chamar refers to one engaged in the act of removing skin, specifically hide. Part of the Dalit communities of India and ostracized as ‘untouchables’ by the Indian caste system, chamars are traditionally hereditary artisans who work in leather. This long tradition was disrupted by the latest beef ban, making it difficult for chamars to obtain and use the leather material they are so connected to, and on which their livelihood depends. I set up the Chamar Studio in Mumbai in 2017. The Chamar brand employs leather workers from the chamar community to produce handmade bags and other accessories in different materials, from canvas to recycled rubber and more. The idea is to reutilize the skills and the experience these craftsmen have gained over the course of their life.
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