Modern India takes great care and pride to retain the extraordinary refinement of its many palaces, old temples and ancient forts. We’ve fondly named our newest delivery, Paisley Palace. From the stunning marble dome of the Taj Mahal to the ornate arches of the Mysore Palace to the spectacular paintings that adorn the Amer Fort, there is no lack of inspiration in the architecture in India. Many of our designs in this collection are named after these great palaces! Take a look at the history of these great sites to better understand the story behind the design.
The Amer Fort was built by the conqueror Raja Man Singh who ruled from 1590-1614 AD. On our visit here, we rode painted elephants and admired the red curtains that framed the fort. We were inspired by the elaborate painted motifs on the walls and ceilings in the Jaipur City Palace.
In India, trucks are called lorries and they can be found zooming along streets and highways. Driving in India is a bit hectic… the streets are a symphony of constant horn blowing and busy cars. The lorries are painted in all kinds of crazy colors. The idea is that if you’re loud and bright, everyone will see and hear you coming and get out of your way! We found it all to be beautifully chaotic.
In the Bengali region of India, it is a tradition for a grandmother to make each of their grandchildren a kantha quilt. The quilt is made out of three layers of fabric most commonly, strips of worn sari’s because the material is super soft against the babies’ skin and perfect for nap time or cuddling. The tradition of the kantha quilt is a way of connecting with family, even after the grandparents are gone. It is such an important tradition that the grandmother’s will make extra kantha quilts so that if she passes away before all of her grandchildren are born, they will still have a quilt.
Animals play an important role in our designs at Tea Collection. When we traveled to India, we were fortunate to go on a river safari through the Kabini Forest Reserve in Nagarahole National Park in Karnataka, located in southwest India. Karantaka has long been a favored destination, dating back to the 1800’s when viceroys, rulers and members of the British East India company would come to hunt. Today, the animals are fiercely protected and the reserve operates as an eco-tourism resort and wildlife preserve. The guides hope to inspire the guests and help them understand their role in preserving the gifts of nature. It was an amazing way to see the landscape, interact with the safari guides and get an up close look at all the wonderful animals indigenous to India!
The Kabini Forest Reserve has a lush green landscape that surrounds a large river. Many people flock from all over to have a chance to see an elephant or at times, a tiger! We rode in a jeep through the forest to try and spot monkeys, birds and deer.
I have painted on many surfaces over the years: clay, canvas, wood, buildings, streets, sidewalks, fabric, faces. None of this prepared me for painting on elephants. This is definitely something I never even dreamed of doing. I had mixed feelings going into it. I always awed at the beauty of the photographs of painted elephants in magazines and online, but was worried about what all that meant for the elephants. Weren’t they meant to be in the wild? Would these elephants be treated well?
I read all about Elefun before we went. It had good reviews and people had good things to say about how they treated the elephants. Our amazing trip planner, Gouthami, checked in with some of her local connections who also had good things to say about Elefun. Elefun is an elephant village dedicated to creating a safe and natural environment in order to conserve elephants. In Indian culture, elephants are revered, loved, respected and protected.
My first impression was that the elephants were MASSIVE. Being an animal nerd I knew that Indian elephants are one of the smaller varieties, these were anything but small. They introduced us to the elephants, had us pet their trunks. Showed us how to feed them bananas. They ate entire bunches of bananas at once, in what seemed like one giant bite.
Mahamaya in front of the piece she submitted for the National Award.
We had the honor of meeting with the very talented kantha artist Mahamaya Sikdar while we were in Kolkata. Mahaymaya is a President’s Award Winner & National Award Winner in her craft. She was in the middle of a move when we visited and graciously took the time to bring all of her kanthas to us so we could see her work. We got to see the incredible detail, hear about her process and discuss how she is helping pass her craft to younger generations.
Every culture has different traditions surrounding the birth of a little one, each celebration being unique but with a central theme of love and happiness. In the Hindu religion, many Indians practice the ceremony of Naamkaran, in which a new baby is named. In Sanskrit, “naam” means name and “karan” means to create. Traditionally, Naamkaran is held anywhere from the eleventh to twelfth day after the baby is born and before the baby’s first birthday. Family members and friends gather to celebrate the baby and the women are central figures in the ceremony and they carry many of the main rituals. A baby’s name is very important and parents usually take many things into consideration before settling on a name. Some parents look at the day and time of the baby’s birth, or look to astrology, numerology, music and mythology. The purpose of the ceremony is to celebrate the birth of the new baby and to welcome and bless it with a prosperous life. We named many of the pieces in our new collection after traditional Indian names. Learn more about the names of some of our baby and newborn pieces below!