How to design a KUBSA (Kubsa/ಕುಬ್ಸ means saree blouse in north Karnataka Kannada dialect)
Travel to a middle-of-nowhere North Karnataka village. Don't worry if you look out of place. You are there to work with Koudi artisans, but that shouldn't stop you from wandering in the bylanes of the village. Avoid eye contact with stray dogs & act brave.
Start working, & by noon, you will come across fascinating facets of rural life & work. Plonk yourself next to the oldest person in the group, as they are the best storytellers. Don't be shy in complimenting the amazing-looking Saavanthamma in a Kubsa.
Ask her if you can borrow her Kubsa for a week. Notice the pin-drop silence continued by a pan-chewed question, 'Why on earth?'. Despite preparing for this question all your life, your deranged mind lets you say - Because I like it.
Roti with a spicy live grenade for lunch brings sweat & truth outside, hence explain, "Because hardly anyone is wearing Kubsa these days, & I want to interpret this design & offer it to those who live in bigger cities". Also, ask if one can buy these Kubsa's.
Don't bother asking for the price when Saavanthamma says, "Are you mad? No one will wear these & they aren't readily available, but I have a new one stitched at home & you can buy that". Just pay. Remember, you are on a mission.
Reach Bengaluru, show off your priced possession to your tailors, & don't take the "You must be kidding" look from them seriously.
Start inspecting the Kubsa, & that's when it will hit you that this indigenous way of making a nine-piece blouse is more complex than it looks! There is no back neck, no shoulder drop, no front closure, no darts, without side seams, no conventional armhole, with gusseted underarm, etc.,
Knowing these Kubsa's are usually made from 'Khana' fabric 20" in length, 32" in width, & for a particular generation, work for the next two months on patterns & how to re-interpret the blouse for an urban audience in the 'Fabric of freedom' without losing the essence of the classic Kubsa.
That's how you design.
Note: Saavanthamma & I are eagerly waiting for your response. Check our Kubsas here.
|Saavanthamas blouse made from khana fabric.
|Our interpretation of traditional 9-piece Kubsa in "The Fabric of Freedom".