Turquoise, a unique clothes and textiles shop, and a fashion and accessories brand in its own right, has been an integral part of the Greek island of Hydra for more than 15 years.
It all started in 1992 when Dimitris, the founder, met a Buddhist monk and was inspired to travel extensively in the East to discover India’s unique textile block printing tradition. Impressed by the rich heritage and the mesmerizing designs and quality, Dimitris decided to bring a small part of India back home and specifically to the cosmopolitan island of Hydra, a hub for many artists and world famous musicians.
Partnering with local families and organizations in India, Dimitris started designing clothes, shawls, kaftans, shirts and textiles, getting his inspiration from motifs not only from the rich Indian cultural heritage but also from civilizations from all over the world as well as the Ancient Greek art, like labyrinths, meanders, spirals, the Minoan honeybees among so many others.
India and Ancient Greece have an undeniably strong cultural bond. The location of Greece, between East and West and a combination of sea access at the edge of Europe, both played a major role in making Greece an important Silk Road commerce centre for valuable textiles and other merchandises.
Turquoise, located in the centre of Hydra, “the pearl of the Aegean sea”, is more like an extension of the Silk Road of the East, offering travellers from all over the world the chance to envelop themselves in beautifully made fabrics, elegant, breezy shawls, intricately patterned kaftans, shirts, towels and textiles, all items unique, as the exclusively hand-made procedure ensures that no yardage is identical with the other.
All Turqoise clothes and apparel are:
- Hand-made in India
- Made by local families of printers and weaving organizations
- Made exclusively with traditional printing and weaving techniques such as block printing, using natural vegetable and plant dyes extensively
- Produced in small batches
The province of Rajasthan in India is famous for its Arts and Crafts. Block printing in particular is emblematic of the textile art and the Chippa communities in Bagru or Saanganer, are famous all over the world for the quality of their textiles.
Dating as far back as the 3rd century, the trademark technique used for Turquoise clothes and apparel, is Block Printing.
A process made entirely by hand: First it’s the design that is drawn on paper. The design is then carved out on one or more blocks of wood, usually made from a mango tree or another indigenous tree. The blocks are then dipped in natural dye, usually made from natural minerals and plants: true indigo, Indigofera tinctoria, for blue; alum for grey; fermented syahi for black; Begar for pink, red, and orange.
The block will be stamped on the fabric from left to right, aligning the motifs in a way that only the experienced eye of the experienced “chhipa” printer can do. First the background block (called a “gudh”) is stamped out, followed by the “rekh”, an outline block. The filler blocks, “data”, complete the process. Depending on the number of colours and how complex the design is, a single or many more blocks can be used. An intricate textile design can use up to 300 blocks to create the fine details of trees, flowers and fruits. The textiles are then hung out to dry for up to three days and then boiled in large copper pots in a bath containing alum and dried flowers to make them soft and stabilize the dye.
Traditionally, Ajrak (Azrak means blue in Arabic) is a printing technique where the textile bears a deep crimson red and indigo blue background with symmetrical patterns of interspersed unprinted white motifs. This process long with many stages involving printing, washing and dyeing the fabric more than once, and the colour is not applied directly on the fabric, but instead the fabric is first printed with a resist paste and then dyed repeatedly to achieve the desired pattern.
Bandhani (Tie and Dye)
Originating from the land of Gujarat and Rajasthan, Bandhani comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Bandha’ which means ‘to tie’. To achieve the characteristic design, the printer needs to pluck the cloth with the fingernails into many little folds, creating a simple pattern of dots, waves, squares, or stripes.
Days of Kindness
Greece is a good place
To look at the moon, isn’t it
You can read by moonlight
You can read on the terrace
You can see a face
As you saw it when you were young
There was good light then
Oil lamps and candles
And those little flames
That floated on a cork in olive oil
What I loved in my old life
I haven’t forgotten
It lives in my spine
Marianne and the child
The days of kindness
It rises in my spine
And it manifests as tears
I pray that a loving memory
Exists for them too
The precious ones I overthrew
For an education in the world