Song of Stripes

Song of Stripes

Song of Stripes - An Inspired Collection

In Mark Twain’s words, “India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend and the great grandmother of tradition.”

This collection pays homage to India and all its antiquity. The idea and the passion for this series originate even closer to home. Each design from the Song of Stripes is a portrayal of women from my grandmother’s and mother’s time. Each print is a part of a woman’s journey - stories I grew up hearing, learning and seeing. It took my leaving home to fully appreciate their journeys. In gaining my independence, I was finally able to understand the tale of the simple homemaker for what it truly is – a hero’s journey.

The tale of the simple homemaker is not so simple. She leaves home to marry someone and join another household. She cooks, cleans, nurtures, teaches, loves, and requests for nothing in return. She sacrifices daily to support the hopes and the dreams of everyone except herself. She leaves moments a touch more beautiful just by being a part of it. 

All women take this journey in some form. All women benefit from another woman’s journey- from her love and sacrifice. I am here because of all the journeys before me.

It is said that no two tigers have the same stripes. Like human fingerprints, their stripe patterns are unique to each individual tiger. How magical and how rare. With this in mind, the central character in the Song of Stripes Collection is portrayed as a female – Leela.

With gratitude, this collection is my ode to you and woman who came before you: The Song of Stripes.

— Radhika, Founder of RARA



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The Revival

Pichwai is a meticulously detailed, hand-painted textile traditionally hung behind the idol of Shrinathji, an incarnation of the Hindu god Krishna. The primary intent of this art form is the celebration of Krishna’s life episodes. Different paintings are made on different occasions, different seasons, festivals, and so on. Sometimes rich embroidery or appliqué work is used on the paintings. Enclosed in a dark border, rich colors like red, green, yellow, white and black are used, with a lot of gold decorating the figures.

This rare traditional art form from India dates back to the 17th century, that is native to the small temple town of Nathdwara in Udaipur, Rajasthan. There are very few numbers of local artists that practice this art today, and sadly many of them are out of work due to various reasons. Some of the skilled ones are not in touch with the market and are, making them unable to thrive. They have thus taken to painting furniture or other home goods. Some of the younger artists are not keen to go through the long hours of training that the older artists go through. Each painting takes weeks and sometimes months, where people work in groups. For many artists now, they hope for quick returns without the required years of training.

Like several other traditional Indian art forms, the art of Pichwai is also dying and requires recognition and revival.

Connotations of Color

  • Dark Blue: Lord Krishna’s skin color in paintings is shown as dark blue. In general, Pichwai’s are typically made on a dark blue, red background to accentuate the other colors.
  • Light Blue: Inspired by the houses that are painted in the “Chitron Ki Galli” - "Street of Paintings"Nathdwara. These houses were made in mud and painted with a mix of Safeda (white) and Neel (Indigo).
  • Red: Color of the idol’s clothes, Pichwai’s are typically made on a dark blue, red background to accentuate the other colors. (Reference In India - Red indicates both sensuality and purity. In Hindu religion, red is of utmost significance and the color most frequently used for auspicious occasions like marriages, the birth of a child, festivals, etc. A red mark is put on the forehead during ceremonies and important occasions.)
  • Pink: The color of lotus
  • Off-white: The color of the cows and nightclothes of the idol.
  • Green: Foliage
  • Yellow: Foliage
The making of Pichwai, Nathdwara, India


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The Rare

Song of Stripes features Leela - The Tiger as the endangered animal. 
Leela - (Sanskrit:
लीला, IAST līlā) or Leela, like many Sanskrit words, cannot be literally translated to English but can be loosely translated as "play". Leela is a way of describing all reality, including the cosmos, as the outcome of creative play.

Three subspecies of the tiger are already extinct and one species, the South China tiger, is thought only to survive in captivity. Tigers are endangered, and some of the biggest threats to their survival include illegal poaching, loss of habitat due to agriculture and urbanization, and reduction in prey availability. These fierce felines have walked the earth for a long time.

South China Tiger: Extinct in the wild 
Malayan Tiger: Critically Endangered Only 250-400 Species 
Sumatran Tiger: Critically Endangered less than 400 Species 
Amur/ Siberian Tiger: Endangered, around 540 species 
Bengal Tiger: Endangered - Around 2967 
Indo-Chinese Tiger: Endangered less than 1500 
Bali Tiger: Extinct in the 1980s 
Javan Tiger: Extinct in the 1980s 
Caspian Tiger: Extinct in the 1970s


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