Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Revolt of 1857

The revolt of 1857 forms one of the most important chapters in the history of the struggle of the Indian people for liberation from the British rule.It shook the foundation of the British empire in India and at some points it seemed as though the British rule would end for all time to come.What started merely as a sepoy mutiny soon engulfed the peasantry and other civilian population over wide areas in northern India.The upsurge was so widespread that some of the contemporary observers called it a "national revolt". The hatred of the people foe the ferangis was so intense and bitter that one observer,W.H. Russell,was forced to write:

In no instance is a friendly glance directed to the white man's carriage...Oh!that language of the eye!Who can doubt!Who can misinterpret it?It is by it alone that i have learnt our race is not even feared at times by many and that by all it is disliked.

Khudiram Bose

Khudiram Bose was one of the youngest revolutionaries of the Indian Independence movement.He was born on 3rd December 1889 in Bahuvaini in Medinipur district,West Bengal.

He was involved in revolutionary activities to free India from the clutches of British rule. Dissatisfied with the British policy of the partition of Bengal in 1905, he joined Jugantar - the party of revolutionary activists. At the tender age of sixteen, Bose left bombs near police stations and made government officials his victims. On the charges of carrying out a series of bomb attacks he was arrested.

In Muzzafarpur, Bihar,on 30th April, 1908 Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki planned to assasinate the Chief Presidency Magistrate Kingsford. The magistrate was known for his blatant judgements against the freedom fighters. They waited for Kingsford's carriage to come in front of the gate of European Club and blew up a carriage which was not carrying Kingsford. As a result of this unfortunate incident two innocent British ladies - Mrs.Kennedy and her daughter were killed. Both the revolutionaries fled the crime scene. Later Prafulla committed suicide and Khudiram was arrested.

On the charges of bomb attacks carried out by Khudiram Bose, he was sentenced to death at the age of 19.He was hanged to death on 11 August 1908.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Denim-The BLUE Revolution

Denim fabric when it was first invented in the west was used more as a cloth of convenience.

From the Gold Rush in the 19th century in sunny California when the miners needed something tougher to withstand the rigours of their hand work, to Levi Strauss, the ingenous tent salesman who thought of using canvas tenting to make trousers, denim moved to France where the French alternative was better and more suitable. Made in Nimes, France, it was called Serges-de-Nimes(cloth of Nimes)

photo:Levis site
The Americans preferred the French versions to their own,but shortened the name to just 'denim'.To get its distinctive blue colour, the inventors harked back to an earlier era.

It was in the 17th century that Genoes sailors discovered that the toughness of denim was ideal for their uniforms. The white denim, though smart, was not the ideal colour as it showed up dirt faster than the sailors could keep it clean.The ingenious sailors dyed their denim blue or indigo
as best they could, with water available on board the ship.The sea, air and weather added touches that produced a light faded shade,which lent a unique quality of fabric.

photo: dark indigo

The word 'jeans' is a derivation of the word 'Genoese'. And so the two abbreviations added up to 'denim jeans'

From Gold miners to cowboys to farmers,denim jeans moved into the ranks of the American soldiers who introduced jeans in the forties and fifties to the urban crowd, turning it into a campus craze. In the sixties it became a protest outfit but by 70's it had acquired respectability as a unisex garment.

To go back a little, the classic pair of jeans as we know it today was born courtesy Wrangler and designed by the Rodeo Ben, Hollywood designer for western movies.
Levis and Wrangler clung to the functional aspects of jeans styling, leaving the high fashion trends to designers like Calvin Klein, YSL, Gloria Vanderbit and Ralph Lauren.

In India, although the denim revolution started in the late 1960's in the form of jeans, it was not the real thing.The only denim available was imitation or pseudo denim which was actually casement or canvas dyed to look like denim. Jeans were either imported or manufactured from imported denim. One of the first manufacturers of jeans- Jean Junction tailored jeans from fabric made by Arunodaya Mills which was near to perfect to denim. But it had one flaw- the material's colour bled instead of fading.Jean junction then tried spraying the fabric in 70's with pigments which proved a hit initially,but did not sustain its popularity since it was ahead of its time. It reappeared as acid wash in Eighties. Arvind Mills and some textiles joined later.

The indigo colour- a crystalline substance was used to dye the wrap while the weft was left gray. It is this crystalline nature of the dye which makes the fabric appear bright even when the dye has failed. The indigo crystals reflect light. Hence even faded jeans look bright and not dull.