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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.