Totem Tandav

When I began Udd, one of the things I carried with me to my new workshop with me was a Totem mask. It was a gift from a friend and for three years it hung on the wall, a benevolent force watching over us as we worked.

A totem to the Native Americans is a spirit being, a sacred symbol that serves as an emblem of a tribe and recalls their shared history and mythic past. It comes from the Ojibway tribe’s word dodaem and means “brother, sister or kin” a word that speaks of family.

As Udd grew and we began to work closely with artists and artisans from India and around the world, and the women who wore our designs became more like family than customers, I saw this close knit group transform into the Udd tribe.

I wanted to depict a stylised, Indian version of the Totem pole. A visual record the journey and beliefs of our own Udd tribe.

I delved into Native American art and in my interpretations they started to take on an Indian avatar. A friend who saw my designs was struck by the energy in them. She said that they weren’t static but seemed to have a life of their own. It was as if they were moving with their own spirit.
It made me think of ‘Tandav’, Lord Shiva’s divine dance, replete with energy, dynamism, vitality, and boldness.

So I imbued Udd’s totem with the spirit of ‘tandav’ to represent the free spirit of our own Udd tribe. Our Totem Tandav collection epitomises the Udd women, who are original, powerful, creative and in sync with the universe.

Udd’s totems depict contemporary, stylised versions of totem poles comprising masks, birds, lucky charms and other tribal patterns that the Udd tribe has breathed life into.

In this collection, you’ll notice that the sarees are in vivid colours, but we designed them to be draped with narrow pallus to complement the unique crop top blouses that elevate the sarees from the mundane.

And the crop tops with their quirky designs and totemic prints can be worn over jeans or skirts. An amazing way to make a piece versatile and take it from day to night.

Each piece exudes the rawness of the totem and the vigour of Shiva’s dance.
My hope is that you, the Udd woman, will feel this raw energy flow through you every time you wear a Totem Tandav.

UDD Origin & Website

I used to do the 9 to 5 dance. Every day I’d board packed Mumbai trains and submerge myself in endless hours at the office. But my heart wasn’t in it and at the end of every week I was exhausted.

Atul and I used to grab every chance to take off to find peace in the countryside. I found these trips so inspiring that I covered notebooks and notebooks full of doodles. Tribal art, rustic scenes, or even just a feeling, into the notebook they all went.

When I’d run through my seventh notebook, Atul casually told me that I should concentrate on my art more and consider bringing my sketches to life. It was a casual statement, but it had such an impact on me! Three months later, I had my first art show.

At my second show, women kept coming up to me and telling me how beautiful my art would look on textiles. Atul and I began to discuss how we could take my doodles to the medium of fabric.

What followed were months of learning about Indian art, textiles and dyes with Atul and me working completely in sync with each other, scouring markets across the country and delving deeply into indigenous art and culture.

Soon, we started Udd, a brand for the free spirited woman, who lives life with fervour. It’s also a brand for the artist and Udd has set out to create a community of India inspired tribal, rural and urban artists, translating their talent into unique Udd pieces of wearable art.

So here we are, four years and seven collections later! And now it’s time for another chapter for Udd. Over the years, we’ve communicated individually with anyone who contacted us about an Udd piece. ‘How does it look?’ ‘Where should I wear it?’ ‘Can you send me pictures?’ ­— these were the questions that buzzed through our emails and facebook pages weekly.

Four years of emails were getting a little crazy and I was torn. I wanted to give each Udd woman a complete idea of the piece she was going to wear, and yet I also needed to devote myself to the designs themselves.

So we decided the best way to accomplish both these things was through an e-retail website (insert link), and I couldn’t be more excited about this step! This is not going to be just any old website. My vision for it was to glean from all my learnings of the last four years to give each Udd woman the answers and attention she deserves. The new website is designed to capture and convey the essence of each Udd piece, from where to wear it to what to wear it with.

Where earlier we didn’t have images of all our designs, new images will help you see what your garment will look like from various angles and give you the lowdown on how to style your Udd piece from head to toe.

This will free us up to do what we do best, explore our beautiful culture and form new bonds with artists to infuse the Udd spirit into each piece of wearable art.

And best of all, it means you can sit back and have a unique Udd experience every time you shop! 😉