Qilasaaz means the Qila with its accoutrement. It could also be construed to refer to the women of the project as those who make the Qila ‘work’ which is situated in Mahmudabad and Bilehra (Uttar Pradesh, India).
Qilasaaz was started with the principal purpose of enabling women to earn a viable income through their traditional and distinctive skills in embroidery and sewing. It was hoped that these skills, which constitute a veritable and vanishing art form, would also be preserved through this process. Many of the women associated with Qilasaaz have been connected, through links extending over several generations, with the household of the Raja of Mahmudabad. Within this context, they had acquired skills, passed down from generation to generation, that were deployed in the making of various handicrafts like quilts, traditional clothes and embroideries including Chikan, Kāmdāni, Daraj- Katau, Tukri and Zardozi.
Inextricable to the expertise in needlecraft of the women of this project, is the insistence that every child who comes under its ambit goes to a good school. The women are encouraged that they have independent bank accounts and over the years they have fine-tuned their notions and attitudes especially with regard to their family’s well being, the importance of education, health and future planning.
Qilasaaz has been appreciated in many countries of the world and has achieved the distinction of a standard of workmanship that has the recognition of museums both in India and abroad. Samplers made by our project are exhibited at the Calico Textile Museum, Ahmedabad as well as the Whitworth Gallery, Macclesfield, Cheshire, UK.