Tribal Block Print Fabrics In Rural Rajasthan

Social Identity

Among the rural and nomadic people of western Rajasthan, the design printed on a woman’s skirt may tell a great deal about her social identity.  It can reveal, for example, her caste or tribe, her marital status, or her family’s profession.

Ghaggra in Dark Colors

A long skirt (ghaggra), blouse (choli), and veil (odhani) are women’s traditional attire in Rajasthan.  Rural women still prefer them to the saris, salwar-kameeze, or Western dress favored by city dwellers.  Tribal block prints are most often seen on the skirts.  The wearers are women who do manual work out of doors, so the fabric colors tend to be dirt-hiding shades of dark green or blue with accents of dark red, yellow, and white.

Bhalka:  Spear or Arrowhead

This motif is associated with the Gadia Lohar, a tribe of itinerant iron workers.  For generations these blacksmiths and their families have traveled on bullock carts from village to village, repairing or making the tools used by farmers.

Bhalka:  Spear or Arrowhead

Tokriya:  Basket

The design has been worn by widows of the Maali community.  This occupational caste are farmers of vegetables, fruits, and flowers.  The motif is said to represent the round, wicker baskets that are used for gathering, storing, and selling their crops.

Tokriya:  Basket

Boriya:  A Wild Berry

The dots on this fabric are reminiscent of bor, a small, round fruit that grows well in Rajasthan’s harsh, desert climate and is widely enjoyed there.  The design is worn by married women of the Kumhar (potters) and Chaudhury (owners of small landholdings) communities.  The dots are also said to represent the matkas, round vessels for storing drinking water, made by the Kumhars.

Boriya:  A Wild Berry

Katar:  Dagger

Not associated with any specific community, the katar (dagger) motif is worn by women in numerous tribes.

Katar:  Dagger

Rakhri:  Head Jewelry

The design is said to represent the rakhri, a jewelry band worn around the head.  This motif has traditionally been popular with Rabari women.  The Rabari are a community of cattle and camel herders.  Historically nomadic, most Rabari now live in fixed dwellings.

Rakhri:  Head Jewelry

Changing Times

Hand-printed, cotton fabrics with tribal designs are not as popular as they once were in India.  Even in rural areas, a woman’s identity is no longer so closely tied to her particular community.  Many women want—and can easily find—a greater variety of fabric designs to choose from.  Even for those who prefer to maintain the design traditions, synthetic, machine-made fabrics are replacing hand-printed cotton.  Naturally, the result is fewer chhippa (block printers) who still make this fabric.

Printing Fabric Using A Wooden Block

Hand-Printed Cotton Fabric With Tribal Designs

There are numerous block printers in India, but few who still make fabrics with these tribal designs.  We were fortunate to find a master printer who continues to be engaged in this work.  His workshop produces these fabrics in the traditional way: using hand-crafted wooden blocks and natural dyes to stamp the historic designs onto cotton material.

Dabu Printing

These darkly colored designs require the dabu method for printing, where the design is stamped onto the fabric as a resist before and during the dying process.

Stamping A Resist Onto Fabric

Natural Dyes

Natural dyes are used for the colors.

Iron Scraps Will Be Used To Make Black Dye
Dye Powder Made From Plant Material
A Vat Of Indigo Dye

Some Steps In The Dying Process

After the resist has been stamped onto it, the fabric is dyed then dried.  Multiple colors require a repetition of this process.  Finally the resist is washed off and the fabric dried for the last time.

Fabric That Has Been Stamped With A Resist Pattern Goes Into The Indigo Vat.
Upon Removal From The Indigo, The Fabric Looks Green, But Will Oxidize To Blue.
Fabric Is Spread On The Ground To Dry.
Stamping A Resist Onto A Previously Dyed Fabric. Further Dying Will Leave Some Parts Of The Design Darker Than Others.
Following The Final Dying, Fabrics Are Washed To Remove The Resist.
Washing The Fabric
After Washing, The Fabric Is Dried Again.

TANGALIYA WEAVING

TANGALIYA WEAVING OR DAANA WEAVING

062.jpg1. Introduction

Tangaliya weaving, also known as Daana weaving is practiced in Surendranagar district of Gujarat. Mainly practiced by the Dangasia community, this form of weaving requires high skill level and an eye for accuracy. Tiny dots of extra weft are twisted around a number of warp threads, giving an effect of bead embroidery to the fabric. This intricate process of twisting extra weft while weaving creates beautiful geometrical patterns and forms. The essence of Tangaliya weaving is the compositions created by colourful dots, which is simultaneously created on both the sides of the fabric.

2. History

This indigenous craft has deep rooted origin and history of about 700 years embedded in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat. Legend says that a young boy from the Bhadwad (shepherd) community fell in love with a girl from weaver community and married her. This displeased his family, as a result the boy and his bride were not welcomed by the family. So he settled down with the weavers’ community and continued herding sheep. He learnt weaving from his in-laws and started using wool from the sheep he herd. Thus the art of Tangaliya weaving came into being. Another version of the story says that the boy had a hard time earning bread and butter after he was disowned by his family. His parents were saddened seeing this and offered a proposal to him. They provided sheep wool and grains to him and in return he weaved shawls and other garments for the shepherd community. He took shawl weaving to another level by introducing thread beads thus developing Daana weaving.

3. Region

[Photograph 2 & 3: Map of Gujarat and Surendranagar (Source: http://www.mapsofindia.com)]

Surendranagar District of Gujarat is situated between 22°00′ to 23°05′ North altitude and 69°45′ to 72°15′ East longitudes. The District has Ten Talukas including WadhWan, Muli, Sayala, Limbadi, Chotila, Chuda, Lakhtar, Dasada, Halwad and Dhrangadhra. Tangaliya is practiced in 26 villages out of which we visited three villages: Vastadi and Dedadra in Wadhwan taluka and Derwada in Lakhtar taluka. Traditional Tagaliya weaving is practiced only in Derwada village. In other villages the craft has been contemporised according to market needs.

4. Producer Community

4.1 History:

Tangaliya weaving and Dangasia community originated simultaneously. According to one of the weaver, it was originated by a young boy from Bhadwad community who was shunned by his family for marrying a girl from the Wankar community (weaver community). The couple made their living by weaving shawls using the wool provided by the Bhadwads. In this way a new community, the Dangasiya community, came into being which connected the Bhadwads and the Wankars in a self-sustaining way.

The word Dangasia has been derived from the word Dang, which means a stick in the vernacular language, signifying the stick used by shepherds to herd their sheep.

4.2 Occupation:

The Dangasias shared a symbiotic relation with the Bhadwads, where the latter provided wool and the former wove garments for them. A barter system existed between the two where overheads were paid by the Bhadwads in the form of grains or anything else required by the Dangasiyas. The range of garments included Tangaliya, Galmehndi, Dhablo, Dhunsu and Charmalia. The women of the household assisted the master weaver in supporting tasks like wool cleaning, yarn preparation, yarn dyeing, bobbin preparation and warping. With the emerging trends and the introduction of less expensive, printed textiles in the market, the Bhadwads lost interest in hand woven textiles, as a result the Dangasias lost their only source of income. In the present time many traditional weavers and their descendants are sustaining themselves by working as labourers in factories or on farms. A few have migrated to cities looking for better opportunities.

4.3 Religion and beliefs:

The Dangasias follow Hinduism and believe in a number of Gods and Goddesses depending on the region and the tradition they follow. They are devout believers in Chamunda Devi, a form of the goddess Parvati. On the eighth day of Navratri, in October, they gather to worship this goddess. Dangasias also worship Shiva, Shakti, Ganesha and Krishna along with goddesses Pitthad mata, Machu mata, Kalka mata. They are the followers of Jodhalpir who is said to have lived 750 years back. His shrine is situated near Bawla in Gujarat and is regularly visited by the Dangasias all over Gujarat. They celebrate all major Hindu festivals like Holi, Diwali, Uttarayan and Janmashtami besides actively participating in other local festivals and fairs.

5. Raw Materials

The Dangasias have experimented with many different types of yarn over the years, ranging from wool to cotton to acrylic. Cotton, silk and acrylic yarn are the most important raw materials used to make contemporary Daana weaving garments. Depending upon the orders and market requirements, combinations of these yarns are used.

5.1 Wool:

Traditionally, Tangaliya weaving was done majorly in wool. It was hand spun in situ hence readily available. Due to the availability of ready-made yarns of a variety of fibres, hand spun wool is not used anymore.

5.2 Cotton:

Due to the change in market conditions in the last ten years, the Dangasias have started using cotton to produce a diverse product range. Cotton is bought from Ahmedabad and Surendranagar.

5.3 Acrylic:

Now-a-days the Dangasias prefer acrylic yarn over wool since it is less expensive, easily available and comes in a variety of colours. Most consumers do not mind 6 the change in texture. This yarn is mainly used for making the thread beads or dots in the Tangaliya weaving. It is also purchased from Ahmedabad.

5.4 Silk:

Silk yarn is used only for making products for high-end market. Eri and mulberry silks are the most predominantly used yarns. It is mainly purchased from Surendranagar.

6. Tools

6.1 Warping frame and bobbins:

Warping frame is a wooden frame with four columns. Metal rods are inserted through columns which holds the bobbins. A wooden beam, with metal rings attached, is used along with this frame to segregate each warp thread.

6.2 Pit loom:

It is a flying shuttle counter balanced pit loom with two shafts and two paddles. The reed is held by the sley which is suspended from an overhead horizontal beam by ropes. The woven cloth is rolled on the cloth beam, which lies in front of the sley facing the weaver. The width of the loom is about 30 inch and a maximum of about 15 inch cloth can be woven on it.

Screen Shot 2019-02-25 at 4.03.45 PM
Weaving on a pit loom

6.3 Panas:

It is made of bamboo. It has two longitudinal sections which are ¾ inch in width and are held together by string where the tow ends overlap. The two opposite ends have sharp pins attached through which it is attached to the cloth. It helps in maintain the width of the cloth and prevents from shrinking.

Screen Shot 2019-02-25 at 4.03.53 PM
Bamboo Panas

6.4 Other tools (Heddle hook, Shuttle, Scissors, Cleaning brush, Blade):

Screen Shot 2019-02-25 at 4.04.00 PMHeddle hook is a hooked implement used to thread a strand of the warp through the eyeof the heddle. Shuttle or khanthalo is a boat shaped tool, made from Shisham, which holds the weft reel in the scooped out area. Scissors and blades are used to cut threads when required. Cleaning brush or Jhaadu is used to clean the loom.

7. Process

The process of tangaliya weaving is needs accuracy and high skill level. The whole process can be divided into two stages:

7.1 Warping:

For warping, first the yarn bundle is converted into small rolls called bobbins through the process of reeling, which is done on the charkha (spinning wheel). One person is required to do this task. It is generally done by the weaver’s wife. It takes five to ten minutes to reel one bobbin.

 

The reeled bobbins are installed in the warping frame shown in photograph five. In one frame forty bobbins can be installed. In front of this frame a wooden beam is kept. This beam has small metal rings attached on the upper edge. On the adjacent wall, nails are fixed on which warp thread are wrapped. One strand from each bobbin is threaded from the metal ring. Forty individual threads are reeled or gathered on a wappon or wooden pegs. The threads are then guided through two adjacent columns of nails alternately. The distance between the columns is approximately five meters. There are 3200-4000 warp threads in a saree, 1800-2000 warp threads in a dress material and 1200 warp threads in a stole. It takes an entire day to complete warping. Once the warp is ready it is knotted to the remaining ends of the previous warp on the loom. This method eliminates the elaborate process of denting and drafting. Usually, each thread is put through the heald eye alternately. Denting is done with two ends in each dent of the reed.

7.2 Weaving:

The fabric is constructed in plain weave. An extra weft technique is used for creating the pattern through tiny dots. Individual dots are created by tightly twisting and wrapping coloured acrylic yarn onto pre-decided number of warp threads according to the motif. For making the dots, the weaver opens the twists of coloured acrylic yarn and separate the fibres. He then lifts two warp threads at a time and by using his thumb and forefinger, twists the acrylic fibre around the lifted thread and then levels it with the woven area. After having completed the required dots across the warp width, the ground weft is inserted, the shed is changed and the pick is beaten in.

Screen Shot 2019-02-25 at 4.04.56 PM
Plain weave
Screen Shot 2019-02-25 at 4.05.03 PM
Formation of a dot/ Daana

8. Motifs

The motif vocabulary of Daana weaving mainly constitutes of the elements present in the community’s environment. Some examples are peacock (mor), plant (jhaad), Naughara, and many more. Some examples of the common motifs are given below:

10. Market

Traditionally, Daana weaving was used only to weave garments like Tangalia, Galmehndi, Dhablo, Dhunsu and Charmalia for the Bhadwad community. It did not have any commercial market in the urban sector about a decade ago. In 2007-2008 National Institute of Fashion Design (NIFT), Gandhinagar initiated a project for the protection and revival of Tangaliya weaving. They conducted several workshops on design application and created a range of products in different types of yarns to suite the contemporary market requirements. This opened a new door, full of opportunities, for the weavers. Their confidence was boosted which helped them to increase their clientele. The weavers get connected to the market either through wholesale buyers or by running their private workshops. Wholesale buyers provide the weavers with looms and raw materials and the weavers work as labourers for them, earning 150-200 rupees per day. In this case the weavers are indirectly linked to the market. Some master craftsmen who manage their own workshops, have 6-7 weavers working under them. Through exhibitions, the master craftsman becomes aware of market’s demands and increases his clientele. The final consumer can now directly approach the weaver to get customised products. Since the number of people involved in this system is reduced, the weaver gets a fair price for his work. One of the challenges that the weavers face in marketing their products is the high price. In market, the cloth made on a power loom costs approximately thirty rupees per meter. Customers who are aware of this fact, tend to compare the price of hand woven tangaliya cloth with the one made on a power loom. So, weavers have a hard time in explaining them about the technique and that each cloth is unique in its own way. Customers who are aware of traditional crafts and can appreciate their design aesthetics, purchase tangaliya products without any bargain.

11. Changes and Challenges

Major changes and challenges that the craft is facing can be summarized under two categories- Production and Social Importance.

11.1 Production

The craft has gone through major changes in terms of raw material, design application and product range.

Raw material:

Traditionally, only hand spun sheep wool was used for weaving Tangaliya. The process of yarn preparation was quite elaborate. During the revitalisation project started by NIFT, the weavers were introduced with readily available, machine made yarns like cotton, acrylic and silk. The usage of machine made yarn fastened the production and lowered the cost of final product. One of the challenges that the weavers face in procuring 16 raw material is the unavailability of certain coloured yarn in small amounts. The coloured yarn is majorly used for making dots or thread beads and the amount used in one product is far less than the minimum amount of yarn that they have to get dyed i.e. 100 kg approximately. So if they have to use a coloured yarn which is unavailable, they have to get the yarn dyed, which increases the final cost of the product.

Design application:

Traditional Tangaliya follow a certain colour palette that is black base with white dots and red borders. Later in 2007-2008 with the application of different kinds of yarn, which provided a huge colour palette, weavers and clients got an opportunity to play with a variety of compositions. They started using their motifs and composed them in different layouts according to the product requirement. For example in a dress material, they arranged peacock motifs in different ways to emphasize the neck and repeated small motifs, like button, to make the entire body. The main challenge in design application lies in understanding and coming up with new compositions without losing the character of a dot. For example, shown in the picture is the so called contemporary motif tried by some design students. Somehow the dots have lost their essence and instead of being an abstract idea it has become a mere representation of an image of a flower.

Product range:

Traditionally, Daana weaving was used only to weave garments like Tangalia, Galmehndi, Dhablo, Dhunsu and Charmalia for the Bhadwad community. With modernisation and availability of less expensive printed textiles in the market, the Bhadwads slowly stopped wearing tangaliya. The Dangasia weavers started losing their only clientele. Seeing this, many organisations like SAATH and design colleges like NIFT collaborated and conducted design workshops for weavers. The outcome was a product range in cotton, silk and acrylic which was suitable for the contemporary market. The main challenge in coming up with new products is value addition. The product should complement the composition of dots, bring out the texture of the plain weaved fabric and raised dots and avail the design on both sides of the fabric. Only if a product evinces these three qualities of the Daana weave, will it be a successful product.

11.2 Social Importance

Earlier tangaliya was known only by two communities- the Dangasias and the Bhadwads. It was a part of their lives. No special occasion was complete without wearing or gifting a 17 tangaliya woven product. With time it has started losing its importance among the traditional wearers. This craft was unknown to the world until 2007-2008, when it received the GI (Geographical Indication) certification, during the design intervention project by NIFT. After this, there was a complete change in the structure of the craft. The social relevance changed from traditional to contemporary market. The Dangasia community became well known for their tangaliya weaving. When the project ended the system started to lose its dynamics. Organisations, which were extremely active during those years, slowed things down. Irrespective of this, the craft has attained a certain position in the market and on further encouragement it can prosper even more.

12. Bibliography Secondary sources:

Tangaliya: The art of daana weaving by Binoli Shah and Patrecia Zadeng http://www.fibre2fashion.com/industry-article/48/4726/tangaliya1.asp http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/Apathy-leaves-tangaliya-intangles/articleshow/20469553.cms

Documented by Vibhu Mittal and Vaidehi Chhaya (NID, Gujarat) for all india artisans and craftworkers welfare association.

 

 

 

Handcrafted Textiles of Benares

43608_GRN_Close_1024x1024

A Banarasi sari is a sari made in Varanasi, the holy city of India which is also called Benares or Banaras. The saris are among the finest saris in India and known for their gold and silver brocade or zari, fine silk and opulent embroidery. The saris are made of finely woven silk and decorated with intricate design, and, because of these engravings, are relatively heavy.

Their special characteristics have Mughal inspired designs such as intricate intertwining floral and foliate motifs, kalga and bel, a string of upright leaves called jhallar at the outer, edge of the border is a characteristic of these saris. Other features are gold work, compact weaving, figures with small details, metallic visual effects, pallus, jal (a net like pattern) and mina work.

The saris are often part of an Indian bride’s trousseau. Banaras is one of the rich weaving craft centre of India, famous for brocade saris and all over dress material. Exclusive varieties of the saris are Jangala, Tanchoi, Vaskat, Cutwork, Tissue and Butidar which are made of silk warp and silk weft, on plain/satin ground base, brocaded with extra weft patterns in different layouts introducing Buttis, Bells, Creepers, Buttas in ground, border and Anchal for getting glamour’s appearance. As in the history of the India, Banaras is known since Rigveda about 1500—2000 year BC and also a period of Ramayana and Mahabharata come to know identical reference about the fame of Banarasi saree and Fabrics as known HiranyaVastra (PutamberVastra). In the ancient time, Banaras was famous for the weaving of cotton saree and dress materials, but slowly switched over to silk weaving, during the Mughal period around 14th-century weaving of brocades with intricate designs using gold and silver threads was the speciality of Banaras.

Depending on the intricacy of its designs and patterns, a sari can take from 15 days to a month and sometimes up to 6 months to complete. Banarasi saris are mostly worn by Indian women on important occasions such as when attending a wedding and are expected to be complemented by the woman’s best jewellery.

Banarasi sarees are not only traditional attire but a symbol of pride, happiness, union and celebration for Indian women.

Ralph Fitch (1583-1591) describes Banaras as a thriving sector of the cotton textile industry. The earliest mention of the brocade and zari textiles of Banaras is found in the 19th century. With the migration of silk weavers from Gujarat during the famine 1603, it is likely that silk brocade weaving started in Banaras in the 17th century and developed In excellence during the 18th and 19th century. During the Mughal period, around 14th century, the weaving of brocades with intricate designs using gold and silver threads became the speciality of Banaras.

The traditional Banaras! sari is done with a lot of hard work and skilful work using the silk. The sari making is a cottage industry for about 12 lakh people associated directly or indirectly with the hand loom silk industry of the region around Varanasi encompassing Gorakhpur, Chandauli, Bhadohi, Jaunpur and Azamgarh districts.

In the world of fashion,’Banarasi saree’ remains the Indian ‘SUN’ and has been a subject of great inspiration and appreciation for worldwide costume connoisseurs.

It was in the Mughal era Varanasi saree came into popularity and got fashion currency. Today these sarees are being exported worldwide. Around 125 km of Varanasi, this art of making Banarasi saree is surviving since olden days. It was during the Mughal times when all arts be it Persian, Rajasthan or other Indian art got amalgamated to create a fusion of aesthetics. Same goes for the costume as well. The Persian motifs and Indian designs on silk texture studded with gold and silver remained the cue of Mughal patronage. Elaborate pure gold and silver designs are today rare still the zari has rightfully taken its position as an apt replacement.

Today there are mainly four varieties of Banarasi saree available. Those are Pure Silk (Katan), Shattir, Organza which is fine kora with zari and silk works, and finally the Georgette. If you go to Varanasi you would find some 10,000 shops selling Banarasi saree which is more a cottage industry for several million people around Varanasi which include Gorakhpur and Azamgarh as well. Around 60% of artisans are Muslim for whom weaving this art is their tradition. ‘After the partition of India people tried to take up this art “Banarasi saree” in distant the land but could not produce an equivocal quality … there is something in this earth which makes the creation of Varanasi saree possible’.

Silk_Looms,_Varanasi

During Mughal era the raw material that is, silk used to come from China and today those are replaced with Bangalore silks where sericulture is a unique industry. The fineness of silk is gauged Denier and quality varies from 16-18 Daning to 20-22 Daning. Still today silk from Chinese power loom is in great demand which comes via Nepal. Silk cotton and zari also come from Surat which remains the cotton belt for over several centuries.

The process of making Banarasi saree with the colourful dyeing of the silk. Acid dyes are used for dyeing of silk. Those silks are then sold by weight. And power looms people take them to weave the basic texture of the saree. In the weaving warp, they create the base which runs into 24 to 26 metres. And there are around 5600 thread wires with 45-inch width. Two people tie a rope around their waist to hold the form and other is grounded. In an elaborate process every inch, which contains 120 silk wires, is created. Its art to be seen only.

At the weaving loom, three people work one weave, one dye, and other work at the revolving to create lacchis. At this juncture, another important process is initiated. This is designing the motifs. There are several traditional artist is available in Varanasi who might not be educated but can create wonder designs for saree.

To create ‘Naksha Patta’ the artist first draw on the graph paper with colour concepts. Now those designs are of varying kind. But most universal kinds are Caixg (Kalka), Butti and flower and foliage. There scene of village, fairs, cloud, dancing-monkey design. And even one can see temple and mosque design. However, it was the matter of experience that in one Bride saree there were designs of ‘Grave-yard’ as well. This became the functional aspect of art which is not far off from the people life cycle. In modern days, one can see geometrical designs have come in, but it lacks appreciation. As traditional folk design remains the base appeal for Banarasi saree.

Once the design is selected then small punch cards are created those are guides for particular which colour thread has to pass through which card at what stage. For one small design one requires to create hundreds of perforated cards to implement the concept.

Once those perforated cards are prepared those are knitted with different threads and colours on the loom and according to design, those are paddled in a systematic manner that the main weaving picks up right colour and pattern to create the design and weave as well.

In yesteryears, Banarasi sarees used to have designs with original gold and silver thread and one manufacturer used to take even a year to create one saree. Yet, those sarees could fetch several lakhs for the weaver. However, it all depended on the intricacy of designs and pattern. A normal saree takes around 15 days to 1 month and the time limit stretches even upto 6 months.

Thus, we see for the creation of Banarasi saree one requires different experts right from the gauging the quality of Silk until marketing. All this goes towards the creation of the unique saree which is envied by saree weavers from all over. It is no simple weaving rather those are the functional art of India which is going on for centuries within a great fabric of Indian traditional weavers.

Geographical indication

Over the years, the Banarasi silk handloom industry has been incurring huge losses because of competition from mechanised units producing the Varanasi silk saris at a faster rate and at the cheaper cost, another source of competition has been saris made of cheaper synthetic alternatives to silk.

In 2009, after two years of wait, weaver associations in Uttar Pradesh, secured Geographical Indication (GI) rights for the ‘Banaras Brocades and Sarees’. GI is an intellectual property right, which identifies a good as originating in a certain region where a given quality, reputation or another characteristic of the product is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.

As per the GI certificate, Banarasi products fall into four classes, namely silk brocades, textile goods, silk saree, dress material and silk embroidery.

Most importantly this means that no sari or brocade made outside the six identified districts of Uttar Pradesh, that is Varanasi, Mirzapur, Chandauli,

Bhadohi, Jaunpur and Azamgarh districts, can be legally sold under the name of Banaras sari and brocade.

Varieties

There are four main varieties of Banarasi sari, which includes Pure Silk (Katan), Organza (Kora) with zari and silk, Georgette and Shattir, and according to the design process, they are divided into categories like, Jangala, Tanchoi, Vaskat, Cutwork, Tissue and Butidar.

Brocade

43268_GRY_Close_1024x1024

Brocade refer to those textiles wherein patterns are created in weaving by transfixing or thrusting the pattern thread between the warp. In regular weaving, the weft thread passes over and under the warp thread regularly. But when brocade designs in gold, silver silk or cotton threads are to be woven, special threads are transfixed in between by skipping the passage of the regular weft over a certain number of warp threads (depending upon the pattern) and by regularising the skipping by means of pre-arranged heddles for each type of patterning. There may be several sets of heddles so arranged that on different occasions, they raise and depress an irregular number of threads in turn, as required by the exigencies of the pattern. Zari brocades when gold and silver threads are used along with or without silk threads, thrust either as special weft or warp to create glittering raised ornamentation. We have the zari brocade kind of fabrics. When we talk of gold or silver threads. It is to be under stood that the gold threads are actually only silver threads with gold polish and that these threads are obtained by closely winding extremely fine gold or silver wire around a silk thread. According to Sir George Watt, “When the gold and silver threads were used so densely that the ground was hardly visible, the material was kinkhab proper and was too heavy for clothing, it was therefore used for trappings, hangings and furnishing”. Only that material in which the zari patterns were scattered was true brocade. This was used for clothing.

Banaras silk Jamdani

Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 11.59.53 AMThe silk Jamdani, a technical variety of brocade or the ‘figured muslin’, traditionally woven in Banaras may be considered to be one of the finest products to come out of the Banarasi loom. Here silk fabric is brocaded with cotton and rarely with zari threads. Jamdani is woven by transfixing the pattern thread between a varying number of warp threads in proportion to the size of the designed then throwing the shuttle to pass the regular weft. By repeating this process, where in the size and placing of the cut thread is in accordance with the character of the pattern; the Jamdani weaver produces arrange of intricate designs. Some of the traditional motifs of Jamdani included chameli (Jasmine), panna hazar (thousand emeralds), gendabuti (marigold flower), panbuti (leaf form), tircha (diagonally striped) and so on. The most attractive design feature of the Jamdani sari was konia or a comer-motif having a floral mango butta. It has the own special character of (URTU) binding in the figured designs on ground fabrics using extra weft designs thread damp patch technique for the ornamentation of the saree. It is silk by silk base fabrics or namented with extra looking and technique of weaving in karhuwan.

Jangala saree

Brocade weavers of Banares have often endeavoured to add a sense of gaiety and festivity by brocading patterns in colourful silk threads amidst the usual gold and silver motifs of the brocade convention. The present sari is an example in which muga silk motifs have been in laid. Jangala wildly scrolling and spreading vegetation motif is among the eldest in Banares brocades. This old rose sari is embellished with beautifully contrasted gold-creepers and silver flowers of the Jangala motif. The borders have brocaded running creepers in muga silk and gold, and silver-zari threads. The end panel is a combination of motifs of the borders and condensed Jangala of the field. Muga silk brocading in-hances the beauty of the sari while reducing the cost. All over Jal Jangala design to get the stylish work of the sarees and also used mina work for the decoration of the fabrics. The exclusive design saree has time taking skilled work, costly fabrics are widely accepted during the wedding occasion.

Jamwar Tanchoi sari

Using a technique similar to that of brocade, weavers of Banaras weave saris using colourful extra weft silk yam for patterning. This variety is known as Tanchoi. This maroon-coloured sari in the satin weave is brocaded with elaborate motifs from the Jama war shawl tradition from Kashmir, the characteristic feature of which was the paisley motif, often elaborated into a maze which would look kaleidoscopic in character. The field has a densely spread minute diaper of Jamawar style paisley. The end panel has large motifs of multiple paisley forms one growing out of the other. The border, as well as the cross borders of the end panel, have miniature paisley creepers. Tanchoi fabric has remarkable fame in the India as well as all over in the world widely acceptable to all kind of the people.

Tissue saree

The renowned zari brocade weavers of Banaras has evolved a technique of weaving tissue material which looked like golden cloth. By running zari in weft a combination of zari and silk in extra-weft (pattern-thread) and silk in warp, the weave of this sari has densely patterned with golden lotuses floating in a glimmering pond. The ‘drops of water’ are created by cut work technique. The borders and the end panel have a diaper of diamond patterns enclosed by a border of running paisley motifs. Tissue saris are most popular as wedding saris among the affluent. Tissue sari has glazed, shining character due to the use of real gold zari/silver zari in weft on silk warp ground are ornamented with the particulars traditional design such as Jangala Butidar, Shikargah menadar and so on.

Cut work saree

download (2)

This type of saree prepared by cut work technique on plain ground texture after removing of the floated thread which are not designed (woven) during the weaving process which provide a good transparent look. Cut work is the cheaper version of the Jamdani variety. In cut work, the pattern is made to run from selvage to selvage letting it hang loosely between two motifs and the extra-thread is then cut manually, giving the effect of Jamdani.

Butidar saree

The most striking feature of this dark blue silken saree is that it is brocaded with pattern threads of gold, silver and silk. Due to the darker shade of gold and lighter of silver this variety of patterning in brocade is conventionally known as Ganga-Jamuna, indicating the confluence of these two rivers whose waters are believed to be dark and light receptively. The end panel has a row of arches, in each of which a bouquet of flowers is placed. A slightly smaller and variegated bouquet is diapered all over the field. The Butidar saree is a rich kind of the Banaras saree in high traditional pattern and motif of the design locally popularised such as Angoor bail, Gojar bail, Luttar bail, Khulta bail, Baluchar bail, Mehrab bail, Doller butti, Ashraffi butti, Latiffa butti. Resham butti, Jhummar butti, Jhari butta, Kalma butti, Patti butti, Lichhi butti, Latiffa butta, Kairy kalanga, Thakka anchal, Mehrab anchal, Baluchar butta with the use of real gold and silver Jari and Katan silk in the weft.

Environmental concern

Since a large number of silk dyeing units in the trade use chemical dyes, which cause pollution in the Ganges river, a move is on to shift to natural dyes. A research team from the Indian Institute of Technology-Banaras Hindu University (IIT-BHU) used the technique of solvent extraction and enzymatic extraction to developed natural colours from plants, flowers and fruits including accaccia, butia (palash), madder, marigold and pomegranate (anar).

Benares Brocade

These are highly sought after variety of sarees and historically known to be one of the finest sarees in India. These are known for their gold and silver brocade work, fine silk and rich embroidery. These are decorated with elaborate engravings and thus very heavy.

The looms in Varanasi, however, are falling silent, rapidly. There are plenty of reasons, all of them valid and challenging. However, when the human spirit starts sinking then the focus of all effort has to point not merely to providing alternative sources of livelihood or financial subsidies.

Banarasi saris

These fine gold and silver brocades from India are woven in the city of Banaras (Varanasi). Fine heavy gauge silk yarns are woven intricately as warp and weft along with gold and silver threads (zari) to create elaborate brocade designs. In detail, the weft thread passes over and under the warp thread weaving the silk base of the sari where in the special gold and silver threads are transfixed in between by skipping the passage of the regular weft over a certain number of warp threads as per the design.playclan

Most Banarasi saris reflect ancient Mughal influence which is seen in the motifs used like floral and foliate motifs (kalga and bel), a string of upright leaves called jhallar usually weaved on the inner and outer edge. Other motifs used are animals and figures with small details, scenes from the village, fairs, designs inspired from the architecture of temple and mosque, etc. The edge of the sari border is a characteristic of Banarasi Saris.

Banaras silk sarees is a name that conjures up diverse images of the rich Indian tradition. The historians have traced the tradition to 1500 to 2000 BC with references in Vedic and Buddha literature. It seems that weavers were earlier specialised in cotton weaving but made a switch over to silk weaving in the 14th century. Around this time again they got specialised in brocade weaving. Brocade is a textile in which pattern is created in weaving by transfixing or thrusting the pattern-thread between the warp. Zari brocade entails the use of gold (meaning silver thread with gold polish) and silver threads-real or imitation-thrust either as special weft or warp to create glittering raised ornamentation. The weave rich varieties of sarees in Varanasi are Jangala, Tanchoi, Vaskat, Cut work, Tissue and Butidar. Apart from the sarees the other products that have of late been introduced in the cluster are dress material, stoles, scarves, mufflers and home furnishing items.

Activity of Banaras cluster

The city of Varanasi houses the district head quarter of Varanasi district that consists of eight blocks. There are 45000 active looms in the district that are spread all over.

The cluster development program for Varanasi under IHCDP of DCHL was initiated in the year 2006. To start with, the diagnostic study of the handloom cluster was conducted and cluster mapping were done. After selection of cluster pocket viz., Ram Nagar, Lohta and Kotwa, baseline data has been collected covering 5000 handlooms. The purpose of the data collection was to understand the set of interventions required for the cluster development. Based on this survey, a report was prepared and required benchmarks were established.

The Benarasi Story

Jamdani – A Wondrous Weave

wikipedia.org/banarasisari

 

 

History of a weave – Baluchari Sarees

LDCentral-close-up-of-Image-10
Detail of a Baluchar silk sari, west Bengal, 19th century. The excitement generated by steamships and trains, as well as gadgets like binoculars and cameras, is captured in the vignettes of this sari end. 

Baluchari sari is a type of sari and a garment worn by women across India and Bangladesh. This particular type of sari originated in Bengal and is known for depictions of mythological scenes on the pallu of the sari. It is mainly produced in Murshidabad and producing one sari takes approximately one week or more. The Baluchari sari has been granted the status of the geographical indication in India.

 

In the history of textile in Bengal, Baluchari came much after Maslin. Two hundred years ago Baluchari was used to be practised in a small village called Baluchar in Murshidabad district, from where it got the name Baluchari. In the 18th century, Murshidquali Khan, Nawab of Bengal patronised its rich weaving tradition and brought the craft of making this sari from Dhaka to the Baluchar village in Murshidabad and encouraged the industry to flourish. After a flood in the Ganga river and the subsequent submerging of the village, the industry moved to Bishnupur village in Bankura district. The sari industry prospered in Bishnupur, Bankura during the reign of the Malla dynasty. But this flourishing trend later declined, especially during British rule, due to political and financial reasons and it became a dying craft as most of the weavers were compelled to give up the profession.

Later in the first half of 20th century, Subho Thakur, a famous artist, felt the need of re-cultivating the rich tradition of Baluchari craft. Though Bishnupur was always famous for its silk, he invited Akshay Kumar Das, a Master Weaver of Bishnupur to his centre to learn the technique of jacquard weaving. Sri Das then went back to Bishnupur and worked hard to weave Baluchari on their looms.

Once Bishnupur was the capital of Malla dynasty and different kinds of crafts flourished during their period under the patronage of Malla kings. Temples made of terracotta bricks were one achievement of these rulers. A major influence of these temples can be seen in Baluchari sarees. Mythological stories taken from the walls of temples and woven on Baluchari sarees is a common feature in Bishnupur.

Baluchari had enjoyed the special patronage of the Murshidabad court since the 17th century and developed a school of design where stylised forms of human and animal figures were most interestingly integrated with floral and geometrical motifs in the elaborate weaver material.

The Nawabs and Muslim aristocrats used the material produced in raw silk mainly as tapestry, but Hindu nobleman had it made into sarees in which the ground scheme of decoration became a very wide pal lava, often with a panel of large mango or paisley motifs at the centre, surrounded by smaller rectangles depicting different scenes. The saree borders were narrow with floral and foliage motifs, and the whole ground of the saree was covered with small paisley and other floral designs.

An interesting feature of earlier Baluchari sarees was the stylised bird and animal motifs that were incorporated in paisley and other floral decorations.

Gradually, hunters mounted on horses and elephants appeared, followed by scenes of the Nawab’s court. When the British took over Bengal, ‘sahibs’ and ‘memsahibs’ appeared a ‘sahib’ smoking and the ‘mem’ fanning herself.

The silk yarn used at Baluchar was not twisted and therefore had a soft, heavy texture. The advent of railways and steamboats was also most interestingly documented on these sarees. The ground colours in which the cloth available were limited, but they were permanent, are still fresh after hundreds of years.

The efforts made around 1960 by the All India Handicrafts Board to reproduce two old Baluchari saree designs at Vishnupur on a jacquard loom with 400 hooks failed, the product lacking the softness and vitality of the original.

The rich variety of the techniques, designs and texture of Bengal Baluchari sarees are endearing, enticing and exquisitely enviable. But the high cost of production leads to fell in patronage in the recent past. As a result, quite a good number of master weavers migrated to other centres. Yet, as people are becoming more and more fashion conscious and going all out for exclusivity, Balucharis, once again, have very good prospects. The demand for Baluchari, it is estimated, is far above its supply today.

To exploit this happy market situation and help weavers improve their lot, the Government of India and Government of West Bengal have jointly sponsored a Project Package Scheme for Bishnupur area of Bankura district.

The project attempts product diversification, up gradation of technical skills of our artisans by imparting proper training, providing uninterrupted employment, improving the weaver’s standard of living and strengthening the state’s handloom industry.

Besides training, necessary infrastructure facilities like jacquard machines its accessories, modification in the loom, improvement and expansion of work sheds etc. are being undertaken under the scheme.

In recent years, expert weavers in Jigging in Murshidabad and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh have successfully reproduced old Baluchari sarees, using the traditional jala technique, but too have not been able, so far, to create new designs that could be considered extensions of the old tradition.

Bengal is famous for its unique craftsmanship and artistic values. The unique products of even rural artisans bear the impression of high artistic values. Similarly, the Bengal handloom sarees is created its own global identity due to its unique designs and craftsmanship of weavers of Bengal. The traditional handloom sarees of Bengal occupies a special status even in the era of modern fashion. The variation of design, colour combination and the weaving pattern of Bengal handloom sarees like Dhania Khali, Tangail, Aarong and of course the unique Baluchari. A number of traditional weaving villages are still in existence in West Bengal such as Shantipur in Nadia district, Begumpur in Hooghly district, Kenje-Kura in Bankura district. Centuries back these villages were known as Weavers Heaven of Bengal. The Baluchari sarees are adorned all over the world for its unique designs, depicting ancient stories on its borders and pallus. Sometimes it revives the themes of Vedic or events of ancient times.

The Baluchari saree originated in West Bengal, and is mainly worn by the women of India and Bangladesh. It is a hand-woven saree using richly dyed silk, with intricate motifs depicting Indian mythology woven onto its large ‘pallu’. Baluchari takes a week to be woven, and the craftsmen are largely centred in Murshidabad. The designs are mainly from the Ramayana and Mahabharata, and are worn as a sign of aristocracy and status. They are indeed connoisseurs’ items.

Origin and history

The Baluchari sari traces its origin to West Bengal. The name Baluchari came into existence because the weaving of these saris started in a small village called Baluchar in the Murshidabad district of West Bengal around 500 years ago.

Due to some natural calamities, the weaving set up was then moved to Bishnupur from Baluchar and the industry grew tremendously there after the British rule.

The making

Manufacturing Baluchari sari is a time-consuming process. It requires extremely good craftsmanship and takes around a week to weave one saree. These are hand woven and use the purest of yarns depending on the material. These were originally woven only using the purest of silk threads; however, as time went by, cotton fabric was also used to weave the Baluchari sari.

The mulberry silkworms are cultivated through a process called sericulture and the silk yarns are extracted from their cocoons. These silk yarns are made smooth and colourful by boiling them in hot water and soda, and then dyed with acid dye. After that, the yarn is stretched to make it tight and strong enough to be woven into a saree.

The complex yet beautiful process of weaving the motifs and embroidery comes next. The raw designs are drawn on paper first and then punched back into the sarees. The colours used these days while weaving Baluchari saris are bright and cheerful. A lot of environment-friendly items are being used to weave Baluchari sarees today. Banana plant stems, bamboo trees and natural products like flower dye, fruits dye, neem leaves, turmeric leaves and dried twigs are used in the weaving process.

Story behind the design

The Baluchari sarees are known for their intricate designs and handwork on them. No other saree uses as many mythological designs as the Baluchari sarees. They are dominated by stories and characters from epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata. These characters give a royal look to the Baluchari sari. Saris depicting the story of Lord Krishna explaining the Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna is one of the most popular design of Baluchari saree.

Wearing Baluchari

The mythological designs makes a Baluchari saree perfect for ceremonial and festive occasions which have a religious touch to it. Ornate jewellery in the form of neckpieces and earrings complements Baluchari saree well.

LDImage-2
Detail of a Baluchar sari anchal (end panel) fragment showing a European lady with a child on her lap and gents seated across a table.

Origin of Baluchari saree

The history of Baluchari saree is very much interesting as it goes back to 200 years ago in the 18th century during the regime of Nawab Murshidquali Khan though Baluchari originated much after Muslin. Murshidquali Khan happens to be the Nawab of Bengal during the 18th century with a very deep sense of rural artistic craftsmanship and showed great concern to bring up unique product of rural Bengal into the lime light. He had a special craze for the creativity of the rural people and the traditional crafts of his regime.

The origin of Baluchari sarees is stated to be in a very small village named Baluchar in the bank of river Bhagirathi in Murshidabad district of West Bengal. The word Baluchari itself means sandy river bank. The Bhagirathi river remained the main waterway for transportation of various product from one part of Bengal to another during that period. The Bhagirathi river remained to change its course time to time and the social set up and cultural pattern also changed remarkably with the change of the river’s flow. There was a significant topographical change on both sides of Bhagirathi river. The villagers and agricultural farmers had to shift their home stead with the change of course of Bhagirathi river. But during the British regime, there was a setback for the rural industries and crafts of the then undivided Bengal. The Bhagirathi river became means of transport for the valuable agricultural products viz. Rice, Jute, Silk and Metalwares to Kolkata port and finally these were used to ship from Kolkata port to Britain. The ignorance of unique art and craft of Bengal and many intricate handicrafts by the British rulers created a threat to the existence of these artistic creativity of rural Bengal. The artisans were compelled to switch over to some other works.

Similarly Baluchari handloom craft was also at the threshold of ruins. It is stated that a famous artist named Subho Thakur who took a pledge to re-cultivate these unique tradition of Baluchari crafts, which was almost at the phase of disillusion. Shri Subho Thakur came into contact with a Master Weaver named Akshay Kumar Das of Bishnupur, now in Bankura district, and invited him to his centre. It was Subho Thakur who inspired Akshay Kumar Das, Master Weaver to pick up the technique of Jacquard weaving. Shri Das, Master Weaver worked hard and mastered the weaving of Baluchari on their looms and returned to Bishnupur after some time. Thus, the Baluchari craft survived due to its shifting to Bishnupur from Murshidabad during the British rule.

Designs and themes

Bishnupur remained a prominent place in the history of Bengal for being capital of Malla dynasty. The original art of Malla dynasty is witnessed even today on the bricks of old temples and in the architectural ruins of Malla dynasty in and around Bishnupur and Bankura. The artworks of temples of Bishnupur are known as Terra Cotta. The brick art was also transformed into earthern pots and ornamental pieces placed in religious places of Bishnupur area and it was spread over even in the contiguous areas ruled by Malla dynasty, which stretches to the neighbouring districts of Purulia, West Midnapur and some places of Jharkhand also.

The artistic designs ofBaluchari sarees are mostly depicting

LDImage-8
Baluchar anchal fragment detail. Straddling two cultures ― seated on a chair, her legs stylishly crossed, a bibi or courtesan enjoys her hookah.

mythological stories similar to that commonly found in the temples of Bishnupur and Bankura of West Bengal. Baluchari sarees are mainly distinguished for their elaborate borders and fabulous pall us. The borders are ornamental and surround Kalka motifs within it. A series of figures is designed in rows and motifs, which are woven diagonally. Mostly the motif designs are in five alternative colours on a shaded background. The most popular colours of Baluchari saree designs include red, green, white, blue and yellow. Initially, these motifs were woven on silver jari, which has subsequently been replaced by various shining threads. The theme of Baluchari weaving remains focused to depict mythological stories and folk tales on the pallus of sarees. Some of the designs include tales of Ramayana and Mahabharata. Motifs are interspersed with flowering bunches, animals, architectural scenes, women riding the horse with a rose in one hand, pleasure boat, court scenes of Muslim era, women smoking ‘huccah’ and so on.

Interventions

Baluchari sarees are also known as the land mark of handloom weaving of silk sarees. The fabric of Baluchari saree is very fine and transparent mostly made of Murshidabad silk used with a soft drape. A Master Weaver almost takes 20-25 days to complete weaving a Baluchari saree with exquisite design. Surprisingly, creation of its intricate designs with high demand in the fashion world called for technical intervention for easing out the production mechanism. The latest development in weaving technique of Baluchari saree inspired scientists of Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute, Durgapur to develop a machine to reduce the time of Baluchari saree weaving with an attractive finish. The innovated machine is called Jacquard Card Punching Machine which can be operated for the weaving of computerised designs also. This machine will help a Master Weaver to complete weaving of an exclusive Baluchari saree within 10-12 days and will facilitate replacing of traditional motifs and theme with an attractive and latest concept. The machine is likely to cost Rs. 1.5 to 2.0 lakhs if commercially manufactured. NABARD is also taken up Baluchari as part of its plan to promote traditional crafts of Bengal like Terra Cotta and Bell Metal work. The weavers of Baluchari will have easy access to CAD/CAM facilities due to the promotional efforts of NABARD.

Geographical Indication (GI)

Geographical indication helps a community of producers to differentiate their products to fetch the premium price. It can also be used for protection of products based on traditional knowledge. The geographical indication refers to the products as originated from a particular place with a given quality reputation and other characteristic attributed to its geographical origin. A number of traditional products of West Bengal like Darjeeling tea are identified to qualify for GI protection which includes Baluchari, Murshidabad Silk, FuliaTant Sarees, Bishnupur Terra Cotta and Krishnanagar Martir Putul, besides several varieties of mango, rice and beetle leaves produced in the state. An intensive awareness amongst stakeholders is still needed for Gl protection of Baluchari sarees in West Bengal.

In the era of global fashion, Baluchari sarees are adorned as a sign of aristocracy, symbol of status, taste of aesthetic fashion and of course the legend of Bengal handloom. Let’s stretch our helping hand in whatever way possible in supporting the poor weavers of this unique craft and try to preserve such endangered craftsmanship from extinction.

Process of making the Baluchari

The production process of Baluchari can be divided into several parts:

1. Cultivation of cocoons: Since the discovery so many years ago that the fibre or filament composing the cocoon of the silkworm can be constructed into a beautiful and durable fabric, silkworms have been bred for the sole purpose of producing raw silk.

2. Processing of yarns: To make the yam soft, it is boiled in a solution of soda and soap and then dyed with acid dyes according to the requirement of the saree. The yam is stretched from both the sides in opposite directions putting some force with both palms. This process is needed to make the yam crisper.

3. Motif making: Making of the motifs for ‘pallavs’ and another part of Baluchari is in itself an intricate process. The design is drawn on a graph paper, it is coloured and punching is done using cards. After punching, these cards are sewed in order and fixed in the jacquard machine.

4. Weaving: After jacquard loom has been introduced, the weaving of a Baluchari saree takes five to six days to get completed. Two weavers work on it on shifting basis.

Design-baluchai

Motifs: Themes and variety

Baluchari saris today often have depictions from scenes of Mahabharata and Ramayana. During the Mughal and British eras, they had a square design in the pallu with paisley motifs in them and depicted scenes from the fives of the Nawab of Bengal featuring women smoking hookahs, Nawabs driving horse carriages, and even European officers of the East India Company. It would take two craftsmen to work for almost a week to produce one sari. The main material used is silk and the sari is polished after weaving.

 

While there is not a lot of variation in the method of weaving used today, Balucharis can be broadly categorised based on the threads used in weaving the patterns:

Baluchari: The most common Balucharis have threads in one or two colours to weave the entire pattern.

Baluchari (meenakari): Sometimes, Balucharis have threads in one to two colours along with attractive meenakari work in another colour that further brightens the pattern.

Swarnachari (Baluchari in gold): A gorgeous Balucharis are woven with gold coloured threads (sometimes interspersed with a bit of silver) that illuminate the patterns to a much larger extent.

Use

These saris were mostly worn by women from the upper class and Zamindar households in Bengal during festive occasions and weddings.

Organic Baluchari

With the changing time, the baluchari saree gets a makeover and a touch of eco-friendliness in terms of the used yams and colours. Cotton Kapas is spun with fibres of banana plants and bamboo shoots and the dyes are extracts of fruits, flowers, leaves and vegetables such as pomegranate, jamun, neem fruits and leaves, basil leaves, turmeric, marigold flowers, mangoes and others.

Baluchari refers to the traditional weaving of silk saris with floral or geometrical silk brocaded designs on it. The Baluchari saris are characterised by artistic motifs depicting scenes from Ramayana or sculptures made on historical temples weaved on the sari borders. Others may include motifs like animals, vegetation, minuscule images of human beings, marriage processions, brides in palanquins, horse riders and ethnic musicians. One important feature to notice is the white outlining of the motifs. Nowadays Baluchari style sarees are woven using highly mercerised cotton thread and silky thread work ornament in bold colours.

The Baluchari sarees are figured silk saree produced in the town of Baluchar in Murshidabad district of West Bengal. Baluchar sarees essentially have a silk base and avoid strong contrasts. These have detailed scenes from religious epics of India depicted on them and also other figures like horse with a rider, women smoking hookah and court scenes.

Screen Shot 2018-11-12 at 8.59.50 PM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/baluchari_sari

 

 

VENKATAGIRI SAREES

venkatagiri saree
VENKATAGIRI SAREE

Venkatagiri Sarees are handwoven zari cotton sarees popular for their Jamdani style weaving pattern. Coming from the historic town of Venkatagiri in the state of Andhra Pradesh, Venkatagiri Sarees are one of the softest and most durable south sarees in India. They are usually of six yards and are suitable for all climates. The distinctive feature of a Venkatagiri saree is a big Jamdani motif of a peacock, parrot, swan, mango or leaf in the pallu. The fine weaving and unique zari designs of the sarees made them the preferred choice of royalty in Andhra Pradesh.

award winning.jpg
An award winning Venkatagiri saree in Jamdani design by Sant Kabir award recipient and Venkatagiri weaver G. Ramanaiah

History & Origin

The Venkatagiri Sarees, known for their fine weaving, date back to early 1700 when these sarees were produced at an artisan cluster close to Nellore called Venkatagiri. The place was then known as ‘Kali Mili’ and its famous product was patronized by the Velugoti Dynasty of Nellore. The weavers back then used to weave these sarees only for the royal families. In return, they used to get paid such handsome amounts that it would last them a year or so till the next order was placed. More recently, Venkatagiri Sarees got widespread publicity by importing the Jamdani design from Bangladesh.

Sources of Inspiration

The unique and highly exclusive designs are what inspired the creation of these sarees. Exclusivity is what Venkatagiri’s weavers excel in. So if you have a design in mind and want it on your saree, then all you need to do is get in touch with the specialized weavers and they would gladly design a saree just for you. In fact, the town of Venkatagiri has 40,000 inhabitants and 20,000 of them are weavers!

Venkatagiri Saree

Faces behind Venkatgiri Sarees

In the times of kings and queens in the early part of 1700, Venkatagiri Sarees used to be made only on order and that too just for royalty. The weavers used to make exclusive designs for the royal families and get paid hefty sums of money. However, in more recent times, it is the Jamdani design technique from Bangladesh that has made these sarees household names. The weavers who brought this unique technique to India have also been awarded by the President of India.

Weaving of Venkatagiri Sarees

The weavers in Venkatagiri mainly produce sarees of Cotton, Cotton and Silk mix and pure Silk. The counts in the fabric give the softness to the fabric. More the counts softer will be fabric and lesser counts produce harder fabrics. The counts used in cotton are usually 100 (length) – 100 (breadth) and in silk it is 3 ply.

Dyeing

First the yarn is washed and then dipped in the required colour which is in a boiler and the [Charka] worker goes on turning the yarn so that the colour is evenly mixed in the yarn. The most important aspect in this process is the mixing of colours which will give unique and durable colour to the fabric. Then it is again washed and dried. These yarns are then starched. Starching of the yarn is where the colour in the yarn will get more permanent nature and gives the yarn a polished look. The starched yarn is brought from the merchants by master weavers and is distributed to weavers. (Master weavers are also weavers but they will be having a group of weavers under them). Then it is turned in a charka. The turning in charka is where the yarn will become thread, which is used for wept.

The loading of yarn in warp is the next process. Then yarn is loaded into the looms. The length of yarn which is loaded as warp is known as Pacham. A weaver can make four sarees from one pacham. It will take a week to weave one Pacham of four sarees.

Weaving

The looms used in Venkatagiri are mostly pit looms. Pit looms are looms [Venkatagiri Pit Loom] which are fixed in the ground level and there will be a pit in which looms peddle will be placed and the weaver will sit on the floor and use his hands and legs to weave.

The weavers are into this profession traditionally. None of the weavers are trained but they have acquired this unique skill hereditarily from their ancestors. The art of weaving is passed on by way of vision and practice. There are no theoretical explanations or training for weaving. But unfortunately due to the low wages the traditional weavers are opting out of this industry. New generation is not interested in this profession due to the low wages prevailing in the industry. Since Venkatagiri looms are pit looms, during rainy season the looms are closed due to the rain water getting clogged in the ground.

Present Day Scenario

Venkatagiri sarees have earned global acclaim for being fine, soft, light, and regal looking. The majority of the residents of the small town of Venkatagiri, today, earn their livelihood by weaving this unique fabric. The weavers are passionate about providing exclusivity and utmost satisfaction to their clients. Dyeing and weaving methods are being constantly updated. With the recent set-up dyeing unit in the small town, the weavers of Venkatagiri no longer need to go to the nearby cities or towns to get their produce dyed, thereby saving them a lot of time and money.

Innovations

The Venkatagiri Sarees earlier used to be more popularly known as Venkatagiri Zari Cotton Handloom Sarees, as they would be woven using cotton threads. However, over time, silk threads made their way into these unique sarees. And eventually, with the import of the Jamdani technique from Bangladesh, the Venkatagiri Silk Sarees not only found acceptance amongst the masses but also became quite popular.

Wearing Venkatgiri

You can wear a Venkatagiri Saree to any occasion at any time of the year as these sarees are extremely soft, light-weight, durable, and most importantly, consist of the most exclusive designs found in any kind of sarees across India. Extremely suitable for the summer, they, however, have an all-climate appeal.

Global Appeal

The lightness and softness of these sarees along with their high durability make them one of the most sought after sarees as they can be worn irrespective of the time of the year and/or geographical location of the individual.

Maintenance

The Venkatagiri Sarees are one of the most finely woven sarees in India which are very soft, smooth and light. So it is advisable to wash them gently with soft hands and not to use hard water while washing them. One can go for dry cleaning as well.

 Interesting Facts and Comparisons

  • Venkatagiri Sarees are one of the softest and most durable sarees made in India.
  • Known for their fine weaving, these sarees mostly use pit looms in their weaving i.e. the looms are fixed at the ground level and its pedals are placed in a pit.
  • The Venkatagiri Sarees dates back to early 1700 when they were being famously patronized by the Velugoti Dynasty of Nellore.
  • The uniqueness of these sarees is their exclusive designs which can be made for even a single person on order.
  • In ancient times, these sarees were used to be weaved only for the royal families on special demands.
  • Recently, the introduction of the Jamdani technique from Bangladesh added to the variety and popularity of the Venkatagiri Sarees. The weavers who introduced it to India were also awarded by the President of India.

References

SILK SAREES OF INDIA

Sarees usually carry the name of the place of their origin, and the places where silk sarees are woven are indeed a great many in India! At other times the sarees are given names usually descriptive of their weave or appearance. Each state has its own time-tested traditions of sarees, carrying names in the vernacular, sometimes varying from village to village. This glossary is limited to a mere introduction to the more popular handwoven silk sarees.

Armoor Sarees

Heavy silk sarees from Armoor in Andhra Pradesh with rich pallus created with extra weft, giving a brocaded look. Many are in imitation of Maharashtrian brocades. Now not so commonly woven.

Ashavali Sarees

Screen Shot 2018-05-27 at 3.36.08 PMAshavali sarees are from the city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat. They have rich brocaded patterns woven in a twill weave. In a rich background of zari many coloured yarns are introduced to create wonderful enamel-inlay-like (Minakari) patterns of birds, flowers, animals and figures. This elaborate and time consuming technique was in later times reserved for only border and pallu. Though not so commonly woven these days, the tradition continues in a small way in Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar in Gujarat by a few dedicated weavers. And many display the original sumptuousness of the noble Ashavali of early days.

Baluchari

In 14th and 15th century, weavers from Varanasi migrated and

-1117Wx1400H-460068797-green-MODEL.jpg
Detail from the pallu of a Baluchari saree

 settled in Baluchar, a village near Jiaghanj in Murshidabad district in Bengal. Char means ‘delta created by silt’. They wove beautiful mulberry silk sarees which were famed for their pictorial borders and pallu, wherein figures of lords and ladies, scenes from the epics the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, Krishna’s playful tricks or dalliance with Radha and other such narrative motifs were woven brocade-style with extra weft yarn. Sometimes these were even topical, showing motor cars or trains and western style carriages. They are similar to brocades but zari is never used, the wonderful patterns being created with only extra weft silk yarn. At one time the brocade weave was only in lustrous white silk which gave the patterns a pearly sheen. They, as with other traditions, died with the British imports and powerlooms. But in 1958 the Baluchari was revived in Bishnupur in West Bengal (the original village of Baluchar was washed away by the Ganges) and now enjoys a sustained popularity.

Berhampur

xBerhampuri-Patta.jpg.pagespeed.ic.rubG5jyLT_

Figured Tussar or mulberry silk sarees from Berhampur in Orissa. They have supplementary weft work in their borders and often have interlocked-weft in the traditional designs of the kumbha (auspicious pot of plenty), or the ‘temple’ design of serrated triangles resembling temple towers. Traditionally they have very large pallus (headpieces) and many bands of extra weft patterns in border and pallu. They are heavier silks and are often called Berhampuri Pattu (silk).

Bomkai

S820 (1)-1000x1000
The Spectacular headpiece of a bomkai saree

Traditional Orissa sarees from the village of the same name. They were woven in cotton but now silk Bomkai is increasingly popular. It has no ikat work. The body is often plain, and traditionally in red, white or black. But attention is on the many lines of patterns on the border and pallu. The pallu’s interesting feature: extra weft threads create the patterns, mainly geometric, of lines and single motifs. The warp threads of the body (field of saree) are cut and joined to the contrasting warp threads of the pallu. This point of joining can be in the form of large triangular patterns on the pallu or elaborate geometrical designs.

Butidar Sarees

 

Silk sarees with hundreds of butis woven throughout the saree. These are usually of zari, but are also produced with silk yarn motifs. When woven in a dark colour they give the impression of a starry night.

Dharmavaram Sarees

Dharmavaram sarees are the exclusive patronage of the town of Dharmavaram, in the Anantapura district of Andhra Pradesh. Sarees are traditionally woven in the interlocked-weft technique.These sarees have broad borders with solid colors and contrasting pallus woven with intricate golden zari brocade. Dharmavaram saris comprise heavy ‘pallus’ with exclusive designs. Dharmavaram silk sarees are most attractive and desired wedding sarees. Though the Dharmavaram sarees are similar to Kanchipuram sarees of Tamilnadu, yet the muted colours, the double shades create a total different effect.

Kanchipuram

AG677C1-JOTIS-09-614x614.jpg

The pride of silk sarees of Tamil Nadu.

The Kanchipuram, or Kanchi, is woven in the temple city of Kanchipuram near Chennai. It is characterised by being woven with the murukku-pattu yarn — twisted yarn, to produce heavier weft and warp yams. The brilliant contrast borders with zari or silk thread are matched by the same coloured pallu.

The borders are interlocked with the body in the korvai technique, and the pallu is woven by laying the contrasting warp (of the pallu) next to each warp of the body by the laborious method of

the pethni, perfected in Kanchipuram. Kanchipuram with lotus motifs Glorious colours of contrast characterise the Kanchipuram.

Kantha Sarees

Tussar or mulberry silk sarees embroidered with a simple running stitch. This stitch was traditionally used on quilts, called kanthaa in Bengal and sujani in Bihar, made from old sarees to keep the layers together. They were worked on in a communal way by the women of the villages. But now elaborate patterns of birds, flowers, animals, lines, geometric forms and stick human figures are created on sarees. From West Bengal and Bihar.

Kodiyal or Gorad Sarees

d28547cc1ea64273988a8edb8d829f5a.jpg

West Bengal. “Gorad” (or Gaurad) means white. Also called Puja sarees as they are used on ceremonious occasions. These are woven from undyed white Tussar or twisted spun mulberry silk with a simple single colour block border. Small geometric or paisley motifs in the same border colour are strewn throughout the body sometimes. The pallu reflects this simplicity, being made up of lines and a few motifs.

 

 

Gadwal

From Gadwal, a town about 150 km from Hyderabad, capital of Andhra Pradesh. These have traditionally a field of fine cotton with an interlocked silk border. Some carry zari butis on the body and elaborate zari heavily patterned pallu. Tissue versions are created with cotton warp and zari weft as in other silk tissue traditions.

pure-gadwal-silk-sarees-from-umedaa.jpg
GADWAL SAREES OF ANDHRA PRADESH

 

Gharchola

Tie-and-dye wedding saree from Gujarat, in red or green, in patterns of big squares numbering multiples of 9, 12, or 52. It is further embellished with woven zari lines along the squares. Sometimes, in addition to the bandhini work, fine zari embroidery for a more sumptuous look for weddings. Traditionally these were woven in cotton as they were worn casually {gharchola means house dress). But now it has evolved into being woven in silk, crepe silk and georgette.

1489832641549_IMG_20170222_151920-lg300x300.jpg
Gharchola Tie-and-dye wedding saree from Gujarat

Ilkal (Irkal) Sarees

43d3af8e54d21805ae9826313e146c97.jpg

Silk sarees from Karnataka as well as southern Maharashtra. Weaving has been done in Ilkal in Bellary district since 8th century. Traditionally these carry pallus in red silk with Kasuti embroidery, though now other colours are used. See Kasuti Embroidery. They have characteristic white silk yam bands in the pallu. Ilkal sarees can come in silk-cotton as well. They have characteristic contrast borders, often in mayilkan (peacock’s eyes) pattern in red and golden yellow.

Jamdani

Jamdanis are traditionally muslins, legendary in their lightness and exquisite patterning, produced in Dacca (Bangladesh). The brocade was created with extra weft in cotton yarn. The silk jamdani is fine silk brocaded with fine cotton or silk. Patterns are created with extra weft in inlaid fashion but without floating yarn on the reverse. Whereas traditional muslin jamdanis had only white or off-white designs, silk jamdanis now display gentle coloured patterns.

Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 11.59.53 AM
The silk jamdani is fine silk brocaded with fine cotton or silk

Kerial

Handloom silk saree from West Bengal from twisted de-gummed silk yarn with plain contrast border and pallu.

Kornad

Sarees from Tamil Nadu. While Kornadu itself does not produce these sarees much today, these can come from Thanjavur, Kumbakonam, Madurai, Arni, Salem or Kanchipuram. People identify Kornadu silks to be typical of south Indian sarees. These have contrast borders varying from 4 inches to twelve inches, and a pallu of the same colour as the borders, with simple line patterns woven usually in the body (field) colour of the saree. Traditionally the borders were not ornate, having at the most a line or two along the length. The body could be checked, or striped. Though Kornadu is a small town near Thanjavur, it is a common name given to these sarees with contrast borders from the state. Nowadays, Kornadu sarees are being woven in cotton and silk in Karnataka as well.

Paithani Sarees

 

3_2362a44b-f175-4c10-a9f5-560b2eea4c69Though these sarees are woven elsewhere, Paithan in Maharashtra has been immortalised in the saree which bears its name. It is a rich tapestry weave with a brilliant sheen of zari on the borders and pallu. Motifs of peacocks and parrots, lotuses and flowers are woven in multicoloured silk yarn, creating brilliant enamel-like effects. The weft shuttle is not thrown across the warp as in conventional weave. On a zari warp many colours of silk thread are used in an interlocking method, like tapestry. The whole effect is a dazzling combination of shimmering gold with geometrical, oblique motifs of swans and birds, peacocks and trees, stylized flowers and vines in many coloured threads. Paithanis have maintained the traditional weave in border and pallu, while opting for a rich silk body with butis strewn throughout the saree.

Patola

Patolas are woven in Patan in Gujarat. Hence its name. These are “Double Ikat” sarees where both warp and weft yams are tie-and-dyed first before weaving. Thus it requires masterfulness, first in the dyeing to match up warp and weft to create the design and secondly in the weaving to produce the pattern meticulously. Popular Patola designs are paan bhat (pipal leaf design), chhabad (basket), kunjar bhat (parrot design), narikunjar bhat (girl and parrot design), papat kunjar bhat (elephant and parrot design), ratan chok bhat (jewel square design).

The Patola is imbued with mystical quality and was prized as gold. It was exported to Indonesia where it was thought to have magical qualities, and it was offered to the gods. Warriors wore a bit of it to battle as a protective talisman. Amongst the ancient people of Bali it lives on in their double-ikat called gerinsing to this day. Today the Salvis are one of a couple of related families who weave this labour-intensive and amazing Patola in Patan. See Ikat.

Panetar

Traditional wedding saree of some communities in Gujarat. Traditionally woven in gajji (satin) silk with a red border. Nowadays they come richly embroidered with zari, crystal stones, pearls and zardosi.

Potchampally

Chirala is touted to be the oldest ikat weaving centre in Andhra Pradesh, weaving mainly cotton sarees. Ikat is termed chitku here. But whereas ikat has remained a local market variety in Chirala, in Potchampally in Nalconda district, silk ikat sarees have become very popular since the 1950s. Using single weft ikat, Potchampally sarees have given their name to all Andhra Pradesh ikats in general, though they are woven in many other places. They are characterised by a block colour border with one or two simple line patterns, topped by ikat pattern. The body has patterns of the feathery, slightly blurred ikat patterns characteristic of single ikats. Nowadays, Potchampally and Puttapaka weavers are attempting the double Ikat of Patan. These are called Patoulu. See Ikat.

Saktapur

Double-ikat saree woven in Sambalpur, and other towns of western hill region of Orissa. Woven in chequerboard pattern of red, white and black, named after the game. The bride and groom play the game after their marriage as part of the ritualistic celebrations, and hence it is called ‘the wedding saree’.

Sambalpuri

Name given to ikat sarees woven in Sambalpur, 

IMG_2340_grande_51071f7c-2ebb-4bcb-902c-c2ca43a99599_large.jpgSonepur, Butapali and such towns in the western hill regions of Orissa. They are woven in both Tussar as well as mulberry silk, the latter becoming more popular with wearers outside Orissa. Other Orissa bandh sarees (loosely termed ‘Sambalpuri’) carry lines of rudraksha designs along the borders in white yarn.

Vachitrapuri

From Sambalpur, in Orissa. Considered wedding sarees, with a combination of bandha and woven patterns. The pallu usually is made up of weft bandha and woven squares or lines in silk.

Valkalam

One of the recent additions to the proud tradition of satin silk sarees of Banaras. They are traditionally plain bodied with rich woven borders and a spectacular pallu to match the borders. These are woven with extra weft in the style of brocades, though many keep to the subtle patterning of allied colours rather than too many startling combinations.

 

DHARMAVARAM SILK SAREES

” The handloom favourite of saree connoisseurs and modern brides ”

The great trinity of Indian wedding sarees include the Kanchipuram silk, the Banarasi silk and the Dharmavaram silk. While the former two have been extensively covered and are the instinctive choice for most brides, the beautiful Dharmavaram silk saree has resurged as the saree of choice for the contemporary bride looking for a colourfully ethnic wedding. Interestingly, the weaving of Dharmavaram sarees is one of the latest, in comparison to all other drapes.

dharmavaram sarees weaving

Origin and history

Dharmavaram sarees are the exclusive patronage of the town of Dharmavaram, in the Anantapura district of Andhra Pradesh. This ancient town gets its name from Dharmamba, who was the mother of Kriya Shakthi Vodavaru Swamy, the founder of the town. The town took to silk weaving naturally due to the abundance of mulberry trees around the area, which makes for a natural breeding ground for wild silk worms. By the 19th century, the mulberry silk Dharmavaram sarees found nationwide recognition for the sheer brilliance and beauty of the weave. Woven initially as wedding sarees, in shades of red and yellow, the weavers innovated over time to include all colours, motifs, designs and embellishments to keep up with the changing times and increase their client base. Today, the process has been partially mechanized to assist the craftsmen in meeting the demands of a global market. While these sarees are just over a century old, they have established themselves as a firm favourite with saree connoisseurs.dharmavaram_sarees_weaving1.jpg

Weaving process

Typically woven by hand with mulberry silk and zari, it takes four to eight days of continuous effort by two weavers, using both their hands and legs to weave a complete saree. A number of processes have to be done before the actual weaving takes place. After collection of the cocoons from the sericulture farms, they are boiled in steam to obtain the yarn. Degumming the yarn with soda ash and soap to remove the natural gums is followed by plying of the yarn to create a balanced texture for the final clothing, that maybe a saree or a paavada, which is a long skirt worn by young girls. Next is the complex process of dyeing, which has many aspects such as the liquid ratio, temperature, pH etc. The pre-loom part ends with drying the yarns, which can then be used to weave the sarees.

Conventionally Dharmavaram sarees are woven by the interlocked weft method. Jacquard weaving is also extremely popular. The designs are loaded on the computer, punched into a card and then loaded on the jacquard loom.

Special features

The elegant Dharmavaram silk is woven in two colours, giving an effect of muted double shades that are accentuated by the solid colour border and pallu. This double colouring gives a distinct twisted effect, unique to these sarees. Brocade patterns and motifs include intricate temple designs and a variety of ethnic Indian designs like the elephant, peacock, lotus, etc. Apart from South silk, weavers have experimented with Assam silk, tussar, cotton and cotton silk.

textiles-of-india-darmavaram-silk-saree

Colours

The Dharmavaram silk is predominantly the wedding saree of the south. Hence, initially, Dharmavaram silks were made mostly in combinations of yellow and maroon, both auspicious colours of Hindu tradition. However, with more and more people being interested in the saree, the weavers incorporate a number of other shades into the saree and now Dharmavaram sarees are virtually available in all colours. The distinct double tone of the saree sets it apart from all other south silks.
Modern day Dharmavaram sarees are embellished with decorative stones, chamki, sequins, and kundan. This appeals to the younger generation and makes it perfect for wedding ceremonies, functions, pujas, etc.

Motifs

Dharmavaram sarees are one of the most religiously and ceremonially accepted sarees. Hence, most of the motifs are oriented towards such emotions. Peacock feathers and peacock motifs make for the most popular designs. Next comes the Brahmakamals, star designs and elephant designs. Sufficient inspiration has been drawn from temple architecture and such motifs are routinely represented on saree pallus. These sarees have a distinct gold plated border with self-printed art work. Motifs also depend on the discretion of the weavers and their genius.

dharmavaram_sarees_weaving

Varieties

Dharmavaram sarees have two distinct varieties: the handloom and the power loom type. Among the 26 designs available in the sarees, 11 are handloom and the remaining 15 are from the power looms. There are around 240 jaquards of Kalanjali, Evening, Morning and Brocade sarees. Wedding Dharmavaram sarees are also known as Rajwadi sarees, for their exclusive royal colour combinations and texture.

Current state of the art

It was registered as one of the geographical indication from Andhra Pradesh by Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999. Dharmavaram silks have gained international ground and have become extremely popular in France and Germany. Today because of the great demand, there are over 1500 silk manufacturing units and over one lakh looms in active production. The annual turnover is around 500 crores with a majority of the industry run by women, contributing significantly to rural families.

Price range

Depending on the work and material, a Dharmavaram saree can range from Rs.2,000 to Rs.150,000. Daily wear sarees are of a lower range and the handloom variety is naturally more expensive than the power loom. Designer Dharmavaram sarees are highly prized and have become the first saree of choice for brides in the North of India too.

How to identify a Dharmavaram saree

The double shading of the saree body created by the use of two colours in the weaving process is a distinct feature of Dharmavaram sarees.

Dharmavaram also feature a solid colour contrasting border and broad pallu with gold zari detailing on the border.Most Dharmavaram silks are made from genuine south silks. You can test the genuineness of the silk by burning one strand of thread. If it burns like hair without leaving a residue, it is genuine silk.

Care guide26-1024x1024 (1)

Since most Dharmavaram sarees are made of a heavy silk, professional dry cleaning is highly recommended. Care should be taken to preserve and store these sarees carefully, away from a moist environment to ensure longevity and durability.

Discover more Indian handlooms and handicrafts.

 

Courtesy https://www.craftsvilla.com/


KNOW YOUR CRAFT: DHARMAVARAM SAREES
Technique Handloom as well as Power loom Distinguishing factor Dual tone sarees with contrasting borders and broad pallus
Place of origin Dharmavaram, Andhra Pradesh Materials used South silk as well as Assam silk, tussar, cotton and cotton silk
Manufacturing hubs Dharmavaram, Andhra Pradesh Time taken to weave 4 to 8 days
Type of fabric Pure silk, cotton, cotton silk Varieties Handloom and power loom varieties
Colours Earlier in auspicious colour combinations like maroon and yellow; now available in a variety of colours Price Rs.2,000 onwards to Rs.150,000 depending on fabric and work
Motifs Peacock feathers, peacocks, elephants as well as temple motifs and Brahmakamals Care Dry clean the silk variety; store carefully away from moisture

KANTHA OF BENGAL

ORIGIN AND HISTORY

The traditional folk art of Bengal is famous as Kantha which means ‘Patched Cloth’, and the special significance of kantha is quilting. The Dacca muslin saris of gray, black or white coloured, are one of the most artistic and beautiful specimens of Handloom textiles, were considered as very valuable by the women folk of Bengal. There are two types of embroideries. In the first type, the old and discarded cotton saris or dothis were piled up on the top of each other, quilted and embroidered. And the other type was quilted by using the discarded cotton bed spreads and the pictorial embroidery was done with Tussar silk threads.

KANTHA OF BENGAL
GROUP OF WOMEN WITH THEIR KANTHA EMBROIDERY

Kantha stands as a model for skilled certainty. Because this fantastic embroidered piece is revived by utilising the worn-out textiles, literally rags that would have been normally thrown away.

It is a treasured art of every door where in, the Bengali ladies irrespective of their castes, classes and socio-economic groups, are expertise. The embroidery not only depicts the stitches employed but it also expresses the outflow of their creative, resourceful, imaginary, patient craftsmanship.

The size and thickness of Kantha varied according to its type. The layers of pieces are sewn together by simple darning stitch in white thread, drawn from the old sari borders. The design is first traced and the filling is done by coloured threads, taken from the coloured borders of saris.

Kanthas were produced in Hugli, Patna, Satagon, Jessore, Faridpur, Khulna and other parts of East and West Bengal. The Kantha of each individual is unique by itself. Because its always her own creation, idea, innovation, taste of fancies, and art of executing new fresh forms, designs, figures and motifs. It is the traditional art greatly encouraged by the family and therefore no scope for imitation. Though the ideas, themes, scenes and symbols are almost common as they come from similar ecological background, there is wide variation in the structural and decorative arrangement of the designs, composition of motifs combination of figures and colour scheme, technique and presentation varied from woman to woman, However, some basic traditional designs are commonly seen in each piece of their work.

The Needle work is done by original darning stitch along with satin and loop stitches. There are two modes of working. In the first style, the embroidery starts from the centre and ends by outlining the motif or vice versa. However, the embroidery gives rich textural effects by adding traditional colours like black, deep blue and red, which symbolise the nature, earth, sky and space respectively.

THE DESIGNS & MOTIFS OF KANTHA

The motifs used in kantha embroidery has a great influence of Portuguese and European traditions. The first factory in India was started at Patna during the year 1920. Dr. Stella Karamrisch writes that kantha was first manufactured in 1875. The motifs are composed of heterogeneous objects like various types of lotus flowers, Mandala, Satadala padma, trees, creepers, foliages, floral scrolls, kalkas, animal figures, human figures, spirals, whirls, birds, fish, boats, submarine sceneries, ships, pitcher, mermaids, various sea monsters, comb, mirror, nut cracker, umbrella, chariot, palanquins etc.

The designs of kantha are taken from day to day life, depicting folk stories, epics, mythological background, ritualistic motifs, luxurious vegetation with roaming animals, deer running, dancing peacock, temples, hukkas, jewelleries, various types of costumes and so on. Some kanthas even represent the steeds of Gods like bull, swan lion, elephant, peacock, mouse, cat, eagle, owl, and swan.

kantha-embroidery-silk-dupatta-500x500
COLOURS USED IN KANTHA

The original kantha is double faced where the design appeared identical on either sides of the quill. The great length of stitch is broken into tiny tackings which give almost a dotted appearance on either sides of the quilt like ‘Do rukha’. Sometimes the embroidery is so finely done that it is very difficult to identify the wrong side.

Most of the Bengali women wear white saris and thus the background of the quilt material is often white. In order to break the monotony of this, and overcome the dullness, a sort of open mesh of cut work effect is produced by drawing the threads, pulling the stitches or piercing the holes, specially in the comers. The main colours used are white, red, deep blue and black.

Bengal is also known for its appliqué art and is popular because of its very rarity. There are of two styles. The large and bold designs worked on wall hangings, canopies, bedspreads, tents, banners, flags where a lion or lotus motif is cut out in red material and appliquéd against white background. The other style is of small patterns worked on personal items and household textiles like pillow covers. This is done by cutting the coloured cloth into narrow strips and stitched as outlines of the design. Appliqué on quilts earned a large market in the foreign trade during sixteenth century.

Lotus is the most common and important motif widely used in Kantha. An all over pattern of lotus may have the petals of red alternating with black petals. Black thread is used to give either outline for the design or sometimes filled with the stitches of the same colour. A couple of tantric motifs like ‘ Vajra’, the thunder bolt, ‘swastik’ were used along with the spiral whirl, representing the eternal life cycle. Kalka is another important motif, a cone or mango shaped, embroidered in association with spiral whirls, broad band of circles, lotus or heart shaped foliages.


TYPES OF KANTHAS

There are different kinds of kanthas named according to its utility. According to Jasleen Dhamija, there are seven types of kanthas used as wrappers in winter, for books, valuables, mirrors, combs, wallets, pillows and bed spreads.

ARSHILATA

Arshilata is used as cover or wrap for mirror, comb and other such toilet articles. It is a narrow rectangular piece of eight inch wide and twelve inch length. It has a wide border and the central motif is taken from the scenes of Krishna Leela or Radha-Krishna raas. The lotus, trees, creepers, spirals, inverted triangles, zig-zag lines, scrolls are also some of the commonly used motifs.

BAYTON

Bayton, a three feet square piece serves as a wrap for books and other similar valuables. It has a central motif, usually the lotus with hundred petals called ‘Satadala Padma’. This motif with hundred petals is simply a figure, which does not signify anything precisely. The traditional and folk design

KANTHA FISH EMBROIDERY
KANTHA FISH MOTIF

 of oldest style in Bayton is the Mandala which symbolises the unity of all manifestations of life. The core has Satadala Padma with two or three borders on the sides. The other motifs commonly seen are water pots, conch shells, kalkas, trees, foliages, flowers, birds, elephants, chariot, human figures etc. Sometimes the figure of lord Ganesha and Goddess Saraswati with their steeds are also observed. Special motifs on Bayton are worked with swan, as a book wrapper. In other words the designs often are elaborate and this colourful embroidery is made with yellow, green blue and red coloured threads. This kantha is often carried while travelling and also presented as gift to their kith and kins.

 

bf923f019529c49ac65386f44bf0680a
STYLISED ELEPHANT IN KANTHA 

 

DURJANI

Durjani (Durfani) is also known as Thalia. It is a square piece kantha, covers the wallet, has a central lotus motif with an elaborated border. The three corners of this piece are drawn together inward to make the tips to touch at the centre and are sewn together like an envelop. It will have another open flap to which a string, tussle or a decorated thread is either stitched or mechanically fixed, which can be wound and tied up when rolled. The other motifs used arc various types of foliages, snakes and other objects taken from the natural surroundings.

LEP KANTHA

Lep kantha is relatively a thick quilted wrap padder by more number of sari layers, placed on top of each other, to provide warmth during winter season. Lep is also popular as ‘desired covering’. Simple geometrical designs are worked with running stitch using coloured threads. The entire Lep piece is been given a wavy rippled appearance by working simple embroideries.

OAR ( OOAR ) 

Oar (ooar), the katha serves as a pillow cover. It is a rectangular piece whose size is about two feet by one and a half feet. Usually simple designs like trees, foliages, creepers, birds or a liner design with longitudinal border constitutes the ground base and decorative border is stitched around its four sides.

SUJANI ( SUJNI

The most popular and striking kantha is the Sujani (Sujni), generally large rectangular piece of three feet by six feet, used as a spread during ceremonial occasion. Its size has provided full scope for the workers to express and exhibit her imaginary, self created designs. The rectangular piece is divided into nine equal parts and the motifs are distributed in these equal sized rectangular block. The lotus motif with a whirl in the centre is the commonly used motif in Sujani. The other motifs observed are the scenes from Ramayana, Mahabharata, folk tales dancing gal. men riding, birds pecking the fruits, prancing movement of the animals, bees sucking the nectar, procession in motion etc. A moderately thick, light weighed Sujani has either two or more borders at the edge to strengthen the layers and to prevent further tearing. The border stitched at the edge of the rectangular piece has geometrical patterns in single colour, while the other is more ornamental and colourful. The cover sometimes has large kalka laid horizontally and separated by Vajra, the thunder bolt or a broad band of circles, lotus in each circle and heart shaped foliage between the circles. Sarfani is also a quilt used during ceremonies or functions as a cover or wrap.

Rumal is nothing but a hand kerchief and is the smallest among all the kanthas. A square piece having a size about one square foot. Lotus is the core and other motifs embroidered around it. Sometimes plant and animal motifs are also embroidered but invariably has a well decorated border.

The bed cover and wall hanging of kanthas were famous world wide. The women picked up the motifs from the epics and mythological scenes and the nature. It represents their traditional beliefs, individual skills, art and passions towards religion. It does depict the folk art. The ritual designs are worked only on festive occasion to fulfil their vows. The special characteristic of kanthas was, it never became a replica of other folk art but remained unique by itself. Kantha work is a model with inspired romance, philosophy, sentiment and holyness.


My Post
CLICK THE LINK TO WATCH – KANTHA OF BENGAL – YOUTUBE

Hand Block Printing of ahmedabad

The technique of decorating the textiles by hand with the wooden blocks is referred to as block printing. Gujarat is an intensive area for printing where, generations of printers and dyers of the Chitara family have used river Sabarmati for washing fabrics and its banks has provided an area for sun-bleaching and drying cloth. Printing is a process of applying colors to fabric in localized areas. On the other hand design is drawn and transferred to the prepared wooden blocks for every colors. The colors are applied in a sharply defined pattern and separate blocks are made for each distinct color of the design. Vasna is located in vadodra district of Gujarat, a well-known place for fabric printing. Chitara family belongs to the Vasna region in Ahmedabad which has been practicing the art of fabric printing from ancient times. Hand block printing of Vasnais a craft known since ages for bright colors, delicate lines printed against a white background. Traditional knowledge of craft skills is transferred from one generation to another and each place has its distinctive design elements, color schemes and motifs. This craft is highly dependent on water sources. Therefore the areas near water resource are much suited to prepare a beautiful hand block printed product. Hand Block printing is extremely fine due to the superbly carved wooden blocks of various patterns, where the patterns are inspired from the nature and people.Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 12.39.50 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 12.40.25 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 12.40.40 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 12.40.49 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 12.40.56 PM.png

Tools and Raw Materials Tools and raw materials required for Block Printing are as below:

Wooden Blocks: Wooden Blocks are used to print the patterns on the cloth. Printing

Table: Printing table is used for printing.

Wooden Tray with a Bamboo Lattice Bed Cover: Wooden Tray with a Bamboo Lattice bed cover is used for spreading of the color evenly.

Printing Pad: Printing Pad is used to spread the colour evenly in the wooden tray. Pins: Pins are used to tighten the cloth on the table.

Brushes: Brushes are used to clean the surface for better printing. Scale: Scale is used for marking the areas to be printed.

Sponge or Woolen Cloth: Sponge or woolen cloth is used to spread the colour evenly in the wooden tray. •

Block Making are as below:

Chalk Powder: Chalk Powder is applied on the surface which is easier for marking.

Chisels: Chisels are used to carve the surface as per the design.

Hand Drill: Hand drill is used to carve the coarser parts of the wood.

Wood Planer: Wood Planer is used to smoothen the surface of wood.

Butter Paper: Butter Paper is used to make the designs on to the wood.

Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 12.44.18 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 12.44.25 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 12.45.06 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 12.45.17 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 12.45.24 PM.png

Block Making

The wood used for the block is seasoned, cut into required size and smoothen for the process, chalk-paste is applied on the upper surface and allowed to dry. Pattern usually based on geometric forms or comprising of motifs derived from leaves, flowers, fruits and figures of animals, gods and goddesses. Block has two parts, a base and the other part as the top, carved out from the same wood or by attaching low cost wood as a handle. Designs are first drawn or traced on the butter paper, these are then carved on to the wood, and the repeating patterns are traced by applying the carbon filling to imprint the designs on to the wood. The negative space is then carved out with chisels, leaving the finer and more delicate work until last so as to avoid any risk of injuring the cutting of the coarser parts. The pattern is then raised in deep by scooping out the negative areas with the aid of a manually operated hand drill, ensuring the pattern is thrown in high relief by removing the intermediate walls of the bored sections through careful chiseling. Each block has two or more cylindrical holes drilled into the block for air passage to allow and release of excess colour. Blocks are soaked in oil for 10-15 days to soften the grains. The finished block presents the design standing out. Rectangular, square, oval, semi-circular, circular are the common shapes of the blocks. The makers of these blocks specially make for the Chitara community as per the designs.

Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 12.46.33 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 12.46.45 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 12.46.55 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 12.47.01 PM.png

Block Printing

Block printing is labour intensive and comprised of several stages in preparing the fabric. As the cloth contains starch and dust, it is pre-treated by dipping in water for two to three days. The cloth is stretched and spread on the ground for drying depending on the weather conditions. On printing-table the dried cloth is spread and fixed with the help of pins. Marking is done with the help of scale and chalk the areas to be printed, spaces for cutting and stitching. Before printing on the fabric, the printing paste is spread evenly in the wooden tray and the design is stamp on the cloth. Blocks are pressed hard with the fist on the back of the handle to imprint the colour evenly from left to right side; number of colours used in the design defines the number of blocks to be used. Usually borders are printed with the large mango butta and variations of the butti designs. Printed cloth is dried in shade, sunlight and washed in the river to fix the colours in case of pigment dyes. After drying, the printed cloth is wrapped in plastic or newspapers to avoid the colour spreading.

Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 12.49.00 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 12.49.08 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 12.49.20 PM.png

Products

Block printing is the oldest beautification technique used in fabric. Patterns with open ended, bold designs with colour combinations of intensely detailed works are done on the surface of the cloth. Bedspreads of size 96 inch x 106 inch are used for block printing.

  • Pillow covers usually of 20 inch x 26 inch size.
  • Curtains vary from 54inch to 90 inches.
  • Wall hangings as per the choice.
  • Table cloths of varying sizes.
  • Churidar dress materials.

 

Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 12.51.25 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 12.51.43 PM.png

 

SOURCE : http://www.dsource.in/

 

ARNI SILK SAREE WEAVING

Introduction Tiruvanamalai is a place situated about 172 kilometers away from Chennai which is mostly surrounded by the hills and the reserve forest. It is said in these areas it is the Mudaliars or the Sengunthar Community has been in succession with the traditional handloom weaving. It is surrounded by mountains and hills with about 17 villages and mostly known for the bulk of India’s silk apparel produced by the people of this town. There is a saying that the first flag hoisted on independence of India at the Red Fort is a silk flag woven at Arani. Arani is one of the towns of the Tiruvanamalai district, specially famous for its silk handloom woven sarees. The unique feature of the Arani sarees are that one side of the body of the saree will be in one colour and the other side in another colour with two ends of different colours with the pallus. They are individually handled by the designs that are punched on the cards and loaded on to the looms. Sarees are generally the traditional wear worn across India in different styles depending on the region and occasion. Silk sarees or Pattu sarees are distinguished for their intricate work along with the Zari that is considered special. Each saree is varied with their pattern of designs and motifs. Both frame loom and pit loom is used to weave these silk sarees, throw shuttle (manually) is used for the production of these sarees. These sarees are generally characterized by huge contrast borders that offer an ethnic look with the appealing color combination, made through the inclusion of floral motifs and geometric patterns. Traditional motifs found are peacock and parrot with colors in mustard, pink, red, green, blue and black.

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 3.57.16 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 3.58.15 PM.png

Tools and Raw Materials

The tools and raw materials that are used for Silk Saree Weaving are as follows:

• Raw Silk: It is generally brought from Bengaluru of Karnataka.

• Silk Winding Machine: It is used to twist and wind the silk yarn.

• Firewood: It is used to heat the dyeing vessel.

• Brass Vessel: It is generally preferred for colouring the silk yarns at Arani.

• Cement Water Tank: It is used to store water for colouring of the silk yarns.

• Steel Rods: It is generally used to hold the silk yarns for colouring purpose.

• Handloom: It is generally preferred for the silk saree weaving at Arani.

• Gondhu Pasai (local gum): It is mixed with water to form a paste to apply on the saree.

• Soap: Soap that is locally made is generally preferred for the boil off of silk yarns before colouring.

• Fly Shuttle: It is generally used to insert the yarns for weaving.

• Plastic Pirns: It is used for winding the yarns for weaving.

• Rubber Tubes and Plastic Covers: It is used to tie tightly the yarns as per the body and the pallu parts for colouring process.

• Basin of Water: It is used to immerse the winded silk yarns before warping process.

• Zari Threads: It is generally used for the designs and borders to be highlighted.

• A Cloth Bag with Sand: It is used to balance the movement of the yarns for weaving. Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 5.24.05 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 5.24.23 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 5.24.46 PM.pngMaking Process

Silk yarns brought from Bengaluru of the Karnataka state are twisted and winded at Arani as per the requirement of the single and the double yarns to the bobbins. The silk yarns are then wound to the beams and then taken for the boil off and the colouring process. The hank of silk is boiled in the soap solution for the boil off process and dried completely. It is then dipped in water and immersed in the dye solution which is boiled with acid dyes in the brass vessel by providing heat by the firewood. Depending on the pallu and body part of the saree with respective colors it is dyed by tieing those portions with plastic covers and rubber tubes respectively and coloured. The yarns are then spread on the streets to be dried completely and wound to the beams and the pirns for the weaving purpose. As the beams and the pirns are loaded to the loom and the shuttle. It is then run by the hand driven and the peddle movements by the hands and leg movements of the weaver. A cloth bag with sand balances the lifting movement of the yarns. After certain length of the saree is woven it is applied with the Gondhu pasai (local gum mixed with water) to give the stiffness to the saree woven. Therefore there is no need for any further finishing treatment for these sarees. These are light weight with various traditional designs with zari and silk yarns.

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 4.05.18 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 5.27.32 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 5.27.44 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 5.27.52 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 5.28.02 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 5.30.53 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 5.31.21 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 5.31.33 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 5.34.41 PM.png

Products

Silk saree woven at Arani are generally made on the handlooms and the power looms. It takes minimum of 1 week to weave a handloom saree and 1 day on the power loom. The length of these sarees generally measures around 5.5 to 6.5 meters of length with some traditional, mango and peacock designs. The cost of the saree begins with Rs. 8000 – Rs. 35,000 and further as per the pattern of design.

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 5.36.11 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 5.36.22 PM.png

 

Source: http://www.dsource.in/resource/silk-saree-weaving-arani/products

SARIS OF EAST INDIA

1. Baluchari Saris:

Also called the silks of Bengal, Baluchari saris are product of exquisite design and fabulous weaving technique, produced in the town of Baluchar in Murshidabad district of West Bengal. The field of the sari is embellished with small butis whereas the borders are generally wide designed with repeat motifs from the pallu or beautiful floral designs. The end-piece of the sari is the main attraction as it manifests narrative folktales viz. woman riding a horse, pleasure boat with two lovebirds on top, traditional muslim court scenes, women smoking hookah, mythical scenes from the legendary Ramayana and Mahabharata or sculptures made on historical temples.

 

Sometimes the sari has large flowing kalka motifs in the centre surrounded by narrow ornamental borders. These are framed by a series of figural motifs worked in rows. The motifs are entirely in silver zari against dark coloured backgrounds of red, yellow, green, purple, chocolate, cream, white and blue colour. The Baluchari saris are often reckoned with the patterning of sun, moon, stars, mythical scenes and motifs of natural objects with repeating pictorial themes in the border of the sari.

Belongs to – Baluchar, West Bengal

2. Bomkai Saris:

 

The traditional Oriya Bomkai saris feature threadwork ornament borders and pallu. They were originally woven in heavy, often coarse, low-count cotton and were always dyed in bright colours, usually with black, red or white grounds. The patterns created on Bomkai saris have names such as rukha (pestle, stick), dombaru (small hourglass-shaped drum), kanthi phoola (small flower), karela(bitter gourd), peacock and fish (symbolizes prosperity and good health). The supplementary bands in the pallu are not woven in progressive order from large to small, or vice versa, but are woven according to the choice of the weaver. Yet despite all the work in the end-piece, it is the supplementary-warp patterns of the borders that give these saris their names. A broad band of supplementary-warp pattern called the mitkta panji forming a latticework of small diamond shapes is the characteristic design feature found in these saris.

Nowadays, the saris are woven in both cotton and silk with brilliantly created angular discontinuous supplementary-weft patterns woven in the end-piece in contrasting colours.

Belongs to – Southern Orissa

3. Jamdani Saris:

Jamdani refers to an ancient fine cotton fabric of Bengali origin called muslin woven with floral or geometric designs. Traditionally woven around Dhaka and created on the loom brocade, Jamdani is fabulously rich in motifs. Jamdani uniquely features geometric design patterns along with plant and floral designs which are said to originate in Persian and Mughal fusion thousands of years ago. According to the design patterns, Jamdanis have been named differently as panna hajardubli lalabutidar (with small flowers spread all over the sari field), tersa (small flowers arranged in reclined position), jalar naksha (creeper leaves covering the entire sari field), fulwar (flowers arranged in rows covering the entire sari field), duria (spot design all over the field), charkonabelwari (with colorful golden borders used to be made during the Mughal period, especially for the women of the inner court), etc.

Present-day Jamdani saris have motifs of rose, Jasmine, lotus, bunches of bananas, ginger and sago on their field. There can also be designs with peacocks and leaves of creepers.

The fineness and quality of Jamdani sari depends usually on the art of making yarns. For quality Jamdani they used yarn of 200 to 250 counts. Jamdani designs are made while the fabric is still on the loom. Coarse yarns are used for designs to make the motifs rise above the fabric.

Various types of Jamdani Saris are:

a)      Daccai Jamdani

These saris are very fine textured just resembling muslin. The workmanship employed to these saris is very elaborate where the single warp is usually ornamented with two extra weft followed by ground weft. They have multicolored linear or floral motifs all over the body and border and have an exquisitely designed elaborate pallu. The mango motif signifying fertility, growth, and marital bliss is a very popular design in Daccai Jamdani saris. They are woven painstakingly by hand on the old fashioned Jala loom, and many take even up to one year to weave a single sari. It feels supple to the touch and drapes gently to reveal the contours of the wearer.

b)      Tangail Jamdani

These saris feature highly stylized jamdani motifs on tangail fabrics (fine textured fabric with 100s count). The traditional tangail borders had a paddo (lotus pattern), pradeep (lamp pattern) apart from the popular aansh paar which was common to Shantipur. From the use of a single colour on the border, they began to use 2 to 3 colours to give it a meenakari effect.

c)      Shantipur Jamdani

They characterize powder fine texture of the sari and are much similar to tangail jamdnais.

d)      Dhaniakhali Jamdani

These jamdanis have tighter weave as compared to tangail and shantipur jamdanis. Dhaniakhali Jamdani saris are known for their stripes and checks and are woven in bold colours with contrasting borders.

Belongs to – West Bengal

4. Muga Saris:

 

These are the most durable silk saris from Assam woven out of Muga silk variety available only in Assam. Muga silk sari is known for its natural shimmering golden colour which requires no dyes. The sari field and borders are embellished with traditional motifs and butis like symbols of human figure, creepers, flowers, birds, channels, cross borders, galaxies and ornamental designs. The pallu of the sari is often woven with sun-tree motif to add an extra charm.

The motifs and designs are woven in traditional colours like red, green and black which provide a dramatic effect against the golden colour of the Muga fabric. The weavers nowadays are also using colours like yellow, green, blue, beige, silver, coppery pink, brown etc.

These hand woven heavy gold silk saris with motifs stand out in a three-dimensional effect which give an exclusive and attractive look.

Belongs to – Assam

5. Pat Saris:

Another variety of silk sari available only in Assam much similar to Muga sari. Unlike Muga silk, the pat silk sari has a typical cream and white sheen and can also be bleached and dyed, we get Pat saris in different vibrant colours. Though the traditional colour is white which indicates purity. Various motifs, butis are knitted or woven on the sari field and its border. The motifs used in pat saris are mostly traditional motifs including butis, motifs of animals, human figures, creepers, flowers, birds, channels, cross borders and other ornamental designs. The traditional wedding attire mekhala chaddar (traditional two piece dress) is created with intricate gold and silver embroidery on the Pat silk and the entire field of the body is done with muga silk or gold and silver wire called guna.

 

Belongs to – Assam

6. Sambalpuri Saris:

Sambalpuri saris are handloom saris woven coarsely out of silk or cotton in Sambalpur, Orissa. These saris have their original style of crafts known as Baandha which refers to the technique of tying and dyeing of yarns to obtain a fixed design pattern. The design is conceptualized and then the yarns are finely tied according to the desired patterns to prevent absorption of dyes, and then dyed. The yarns or set of yarns so produced is called Baandha. The unique feature of this form of designing is that the designs get reflected almost identically on both side of the fabric.

These saris have wide borders with many bands of supplementary figuring and very long end pieces. Sometimes sari borders consist of supplementary-warp bands woven 2.5 to 5 centimetres wide in repetitive geometric patterns, usually with a small diamond-shaped design.

Various motifs are used to create unique design on the saris against effulgent coloured backgrounds. Some of them are kumbhamatcha (fish), kechbu (turtle),phula (flower) and conch shell motifs are woven into the fabric. Sometimes floral and animal motifs are also used to decorate the borders and pallu. Geometric patterns are less common. The das phooliasari, which means with ten flowers have been praised for the intricacy of work.

 

Nowadays keeping the demand in mind new design patterns have also been introduced viz. portrait, landscape prints of women, human being, flower pods and various animals like deer, elephant, swan, lion, creepers, and peacock. Silk Sambalpuri saris from Orissa are also available in single and doubleikat effect. In contrast to the ikats/patolas of Gujarat these saris have fine texture, flannelly touch, are densely woven, sober in colour and decorated with curved forms, which is peculiar to Orissa ikats.

Few variations of Sambalpuri saris are also seen which include Sonepuri, Pasapali, Bomkai, Barpali, Bapta saris which have substantial demand these days. Most of them have been named after the places of their origin, and are popularly known as Pata.

Belongs to – Sambalpur, West Orissa

6. Gorad Saris:

These are the traditional puja saris of Bengal which features white undyed fields and simply coloured borders.

Belongs to – West Bengal

7. Embroidered Kantha Saris:

 

The Kantha embroidery work on saris is very famous from eastern region of India. It shows the folk expression of the art from West Bengal. Kantha refers to the application of simple running stitch covering the entire surface. Traditionally this type of stitching was used to make simple quilts, blankets, and throws from old saris. Few old saris were paired together and they would be sewn together using the kanthaembroidery stitch, a simple, creative, and economic way to make something useful and beautiful. The threads used for embroidery were usually drawn from the colorful borders of the discarded saris.

Kantha is done in contrasting colours on natural coloured background of tussar or mulberry silk saris. The stitches used in kantha embroidery are running, darning, satin and loop. Stem stitch is also used to outline the figures. The motifs used depict human figures, animals, birds, fish, kalkamandala, foliage, tree of life, lotus (usually in the center), lively folk-art designs, and geometrical shapes. Sometimes themes are also taken from the day to day lives. The design motifs are first outlined with needle and thread followed by focal points and then the filled with the colourful running stich. Kantha gives a slight wrinkled, wavy effect to the surface on which it is done which is a typical feature associated with this embroidery.

Belongs to – West Bengal

8. Bengali Tant Saris:

 

These saris are typical handloomed saris from Bengal famous for their crisp and transparent muslin like finish that is favourable for summer wear. Tant saris feature broad silk-embroidered borders palluembellished with delicate embroidery. Tant saris are available in a wide range of varied colors. The lightness of the body cloth combined with wide and borders and elaborate pallus with supplementary threadwork give the sari its unique evenness of drape.

Belongs to – West Bengal

9.Murshidabad Printed Silk Saris:

 

These are machine loomed Bengali silk, which has a china silk like finish but is more textured. The cloth is fine gauge and lustrous, often printed with delicate Bengali tribal style prints or classic Kashmiri inspired designs.

Belongs to – West Bengal

Koraput – Reviving Odisha’s Timeless Craft

panika, Nagarnar, Bastar

Koraput – rough, coarse to the touch, yet soft on the skin and completely organic. Like a wildflower’s unrefined beauty, Koraput’s elegance lies in its unassumingness and simplicity. Woven for centuries in Kotpad – a dusty little town in Odisha, this fabric is entrenched in Kotpad’s regional identity. Traditionally woven by the Mirgan community, Koraput yarn is dyed in warm reds and maroons with the roots of the Indian Madder or Aalkeeping it completely organic and exalted on the green index. The process of dyeing is a tedious one, handed down generations. With its origins tracing back to the 3rd Century, Koraput fabric is also an important commodity in the region’s micro-economy. Right from sourcing the raw materials that are either bought or bartered to selling it, Koraput greases the wheels of the local economy.

Locally known as ‘Pata’, Koraput was traditionally created by the Mirgan for the Koraput Raja and subsequently for different tribes in the area – like the MuriaGonda and the Bhatra among others, highlighting their respective motifs, making the fabric a visual code for that community. For instance motifs like the Sacred Axe signifies the Paroja tribes and the Palanquin Bearers are a symbol of the Gadaba tribes. These motifs, inspired by the abundant nature around the Panika (the weaver) also include Bili-khoj (Cat’s Paw), Machari(fish) and Prajapati (butterfly). Rife with symbolism, these motifs are used to identify significant life moments like weddings, birth of a child and the hunting season making Koraput culturally significant as well.

traditional pata wearing styleLargely insulated from growing urban markets, Koraput caught the urban buyers’ attention in the 80s owing to a revived interest in traditional Indian fabrics and the Odisha government’s support through the Kalingavastra Program. Although at present they are able to fulfill the needs of both traditional and new markets, Kotpad weavers  who works closely with face growing challenges like rising cotton yarn prices and increasing difficulties in sourcing Aal root for dye extraction. Finally, the presence of middle men leaves the artisans with little to take home.

All this could well mean the end of a beautiful art when it is worth saving as Pankaja Sethi, a textile designer who works very closely with the weaving communities in Odisha, puts it,

The two things that make Koraput unique are its ancient dyeing technique – deriving color from the Aal root, the inclusion and importance of women in the dyeing process and the organic nature of the dye; and the traditional weaving methods used by the Panika who continue to use pit looms till date. This indigenous tradition must be preserved and the community must be sustained in a world enveloped in synthetics.”

The Untold Tales of Khesh Weaving

Khesh Weaving

The khesh weaving process is simple. The warp is with new yarn and the weft is with strips of thin cloth obtained by tearing old sarees length wise.

Because of the tradition of khesh weaving in Birbhum in the last many years, a market for old sarees has come up in Amodpur, where old sarees can be bought in bulk by weavers. Many weavers also have their suppliers who gather them from villages, wash them and sell them ready for tearing. Many other weavers depend on householders to give them sarees which get woven into bedcovers for a fee. The weaver needs six sarees for a single bedcover and ten for a double.

Khesh WeavingThe old sarees have to be of cotton in order that they tear easily. Experiments using synthetic sarees have also been undertaken, since the propensity to wear synthetic sarees is on the rise even in villages. But the problem with synthetic sarees is that they cannot be torn by hand and have to be cut by scissors. This increases the time for this process and therefore the cost.

The tearing process which is as labour intensive as weaving is typically done by female members of the weaver’s household. Some shortcuts have been found to make the process less tedious and time consuming. The saree is first torn into five or six parts lengthwise. One end of each part , say about five inches is then torn into strips. The tearer then picks out alternate strips and holds them together in one hand, and the remaining in the other hand. He then pulls in two opposite directions giving him many strips at one go. Typically a saree yields about seventy five to eighty strips.

Once the old sarees are torn into thin strips, the weaver hangs these strips beside him for easy access and weaves with whichever he picks up randomly. And therein lies the beauty of the khesh fabric, the design person or the weaver can only specify the colour of the warp. The colour of the weft is completely a matter of chance. Only when the fabric is woven can one appreciate how the colours in the old sarees have blended into the new fabric.

The weaving can of course be done either intensely with the old sarees or with gaps in between depending on the effect desired.

Traditional Khesh

Many of the traditional weavers in Birbhum who have learnt the craft from their fathers agree on the fact that the technique of weaving with shreds of old sarees, called “khesh”, was started in Shilpa Sadan in the early 1920s. This was the vocational training centre that Rabindranath Tagore had set up in Sriniketan, adjacent to Santiniketan which was where his academic institute, Visva Bharati was set up.

Khesh WeavingWhile this recycling tradition in weaving continued in Birbhum alongside another recycling technique (by layering of old sarees) called “kantha”, weavers had restricted themselves to either making bags on the Manipur loom (also made popular by Shikha Sadan), or single bedcovers. These bedcovers were found in almost every home of Santiniketan and were also often used as covers for light winter days.

New Usage: When brand Abakash was set up in 2003 to be sold through the retail outlet “Alcha” in Santiniketan, “khesh” seemed to be a natural choice of fabric to work with. Abakash saw the versatility of the technique and first started using the single bedcovers available in the market to cut up and fashion cushion covers and bags.

Weaving Yardage: Very soon negotiations began with the weavers, traditionally used to weaving bedcovers to weave yardage. Once yardage was available in a variety of colours, more products like table mats, hot water bottle covers, and jackets were added to the existing cushion covers and bags.

Weaving Sarees and Dress Fabric: Realising the customers’ appreciation of the khesh fabric, Abakash then started to think of using this method of weaving to create a saree in 2007. Since khesh was traditionally woven with thick or “pakan” thread, weavers completely ruled out any possibility of success of weaving with fine yarn. But perseverance paid off and one weaver, agreed to try a saree. White fine yarn is always on the loom for weaving fine yardage, so it was decided to try a white saree with khesh pallu.

When it got off the loom, however, it was felt the the pallu had become too heavy compared to the rest of the saree. The experiment was repeated with spacing out the old saree lines in the pallu instead of intense weaving for the full one metre of the pallu. And a few stripes of khesh were also added in the body of the saree and the balance was just so.

It was then repeated in many colors and the khesh saree became a fashion statement. Now many weavers sell the saree to mainstream retail outlets both in Birbhum and outside. The khesh weaving cluster around Labhpur in Birbhum has truly benefited from this new usage of an old tradition.

Once the experiment with sarees was successful it was easy to convince weavers to try fabric for pants, salwars, kurtas or shirts.

Addition of Leather: While the khesh fabric had its own charm, Abakash felt it could be enhanced by combining it with leather to make products. Since Santiniketan is also a well known centre for leather crafts, it was easy to find skills to make bags that could enhance the khesh fabric and give it a premium feel.

-Text & Images by Alcha of Santiniketan.

Reviving the Lost and Forgotten

When the history of India’s crafts and textiles is written, it will speak of treasures that once occupied a pride of place in the lives of royalty. These are today lost in the annals of time, fighting to survive the dynamics of the contemporary marketplace.

However, there is a breed of revivalists and designers who are celebrating languishing textiles and crafts through contemporary interpretations that awaken us to their threatened survival. Their work is a testament to the reality that even if a handful of connoisseurs come together, these looms will not fall silent.

Himroo

Himroo fabric is made of silk and cotton and this weave of paisleys was brought to Aurangabad during the reign of Mohammad Tughlaq, when he moved his capital from Delhi to Daulatabad, Aurangabad. The term himroo originated from the Persian word ‘Hum-ruh’, meaning ‘similar’ and is a replication of Kum-khwab, a rich textured fabric woven with golden and silver threads and meant for the royal families in olden days.

Suraiya HasanSuraiya Hasan has been credited with single-handedly reviving Persian brocades, most significantly the Mashru, Himroo, Jamavar and Paithani. She set up a weaving unit in 1985 in Aurangabad with two retired weavers and one loom. Slowly, she started employing widows as the men didn’t want to leave their homes to work in a small village.

Telia Rumal

Telia Rumal on the loomIn her effort to resurrect forgotten weaves, Suraiya Hasan also set up a loom for Telia Rumal, an oil-coated fabric that was highly prized in ancient Hyderabad. Today there are very few remaining weavers of the Telia Rumal and Suraiya Hasan’s work in this craft has been a significant step in reviving it. She, alongwith other weaver co-operatives like Chenetha, are reviving this rare textile.

Kharad

The nomadic looms of Kutch have woven camel, goat, and sheep wool rugs in the traditional form for years. Carrying motifs from the nomadic life of weaver-tribesmen, these rugs are dyed with natural dyes and can last up to 100 years.

KharadweavingOnly two families are today practising this rich craft of kharad rug weaving, which historically enjoyed royal patronage from Kings and Ministers of Sindh and Gujarat. While several members of the tribe carry the knowledge of this wonderful craft, the lack of due appreciation in the marketplace has forced them into alternative means of livelihood. Khamir works with these artisans and is facilitating market linkages to connect the artisans to various entrepreneurs.

Odisha Renaissance

Gunjan Jain of Vriksh, has been on a quest to revive and popularize some rare and dying weaves of Odisha. These include:

Dongria

A rare collectors’ textile, women of the Dongria Kondh community, a hill tribe in Odisha, embroider their creation myth of Niyamraja on thick handwoven cotton shawls in bright vivid colors depicting their dongars (hills) and fields. They believe in giving back to nature as much as they take from it. These shawls are usually made for their personal use and rarely sold outside the tribe.

Dhalapathar

Dhalapathar weaverThe Dhalapathar offered the most exquisite handwoven tapestries in cotton. Even 20 years ago every Odia household displayed Dhalapathars proudly. Today, there are only two weavers left in Odisha who have the knowledge of this rare weave.

Bomkai

bomkaiThe Bomkai is woven on a basic pitloom and the weavers have inherited their colour and design sense from their ancestors who were inspired by their immediate environment. The weavers participate and dance in the annual Thakurani jatra which begins on the last Tuesday of the month of Chaitra. The male dancer in the red bomkai sari represents Durga and the one in black, Kalika.

Koraput

In addition to the above, Kotpad, a weavers’ cooperative society based in Koraput, Odisha, has been working with a near-extinct form of weaving that uses the ancient aal dye found in jungles here to create handspun textiles.

Mushroo

The word ‘mashru’ comes from the Arabic word ‘shari’a’ that means ‘permitted by Islamic law’, an allusion to the prohibition of wearing pure silk fabrics by Muslim men, citing laws in the Quran that restrains luxury in their lifestyle. Mashru is a mixed fabric composed of a smooth silk surface and soft cotton backing, thus making it possible for the Muslim men to wear silk.

Raw Mango MushruMashru thrived on the economic well-being of royal patrons of the society but suffered a loss of demand with the fall of the Indian Royals and the establishment of the British Empire. Consequently, pure silk was replaced by artificial silk only providing for the demand of the local communities of Gujarat.

Today, brands like Khamir in Kutch and Delhi-based Raw Mango are celebrating mashru textiles and its lost glory, two centuries after it has become antiquated.

Katna’s Kantha: Crafting Lives in Murshidabad, Bengal

Slowly one stitches together the layers of frayed fabric

Slowly, step by step, does one tread the path

Slowly and steadily one scales the mountain

– Sanskrit shloka; oral tradition

Kantha embroidery is a distinct style applied to the creation of coverlets. Traditionally the Lep kantha of old, involved poor village women sewing together layers of old cloth, mostly sarees, with intricate stitches. The thread used for the purpose was pulled out of the saree itself. Their meticulous artistry transformed worn out rags into extraordinarily beautiful creations that could withstand further usage.

Old, frayed cloths, usually sarees, receive a new lease of life, also charting the story of a new life for the women engaged in this craft. Kantha holds a very special place within the village life in Katna, West Bengal. Making kanthas is a ritual activity as they are used to wrap and protect precious objects. Baby kanthas are prepared for the newborn. At her marriage every girl receives an intricate kantha that her mother would have worked on for years. A kantha is also used during cremation ceremony to cover the dead.

Born in this village in West Bengal, Shabnam Ramaswamy’s convent school education was followed by a marriage at 16 to a man twice her age. Eight abusive years later, she found a window to chart a new course for herself, even though it began with two months in a shanty at Sealdah Railway Station, alongwith her two children. Working her way out of poverty and becoming an interior decorator of repute, she found herself in Delhi a decade later and began working with street children around the Delhi railway station. During her time here she met journalist and filmmaker Jugnu Ramaswamy, and formed Street Survivors India (SSI), first in Delhi and then in Katna.

Under the SSI banner, the label Katna’s Kantha was born. It represents the collective effort of a growing network of women, from Katna and neighbouring villages in the district of Murshidabad. Spearheaded by Shabnam Ramaswamy, is a livelihood generation programme that has taken this traditional and evolved skill of village women to economically empower them. Katna’s Kantha is a Street Survivors India project that strives to work with communities in Murshidabad through a holistic approach, recognizing the inseparable linkage between empowerment and livelihood.

School in KatnaAlong with a kantha embroidery collective, SSI also runs schools in the neighbourhood. The earnings from the collective are pooled as resources for the school to subsidize education for children of the women workers.

DSC00060

In this village within the Murshidabad district of Bengal, Kantha is not just a sewing together of layers of old cloth. It is a part of people’s lives and memories. And an apt framework for creating income generating opportunities for women in the area, representing the collective effort of 1500 women from 125 villages. Several women from the collective have become leaders, one of them summing it up thus, ‘When we look back to what we were, we cannot just recognize ourselves. I never commanded so much respect in my life. I never knew women could be respected and it all happened because of this work.’

The Embroidery of Life : Needle Crafts and Colors of Kutch

Amidst the barren desert landscape of the western border towns of India, smatterings of color are a representation of life, appearing as adornments on the bodies of the beautiful tribes. Embroidery, here, is not a glorious vocation but part of the daily fabric of how a day is spent.

It isn’t uncommon to walk among the dusty hamlets here in the afternoons and see women of the house gather around to embroider clothes for the family, textiles for the cattle or, depending on their age, prepare the riches they will carry to their marital home as dowry. Embroidery introduces the bride to her new home and her relocation to her husband’s village will serve as a cultural transference of styles. Even her all-embroidered kanchali blouse worn at the wedding would be deftly combined with a brilliantly colored mashru silk and cotton skirt.

Within the region referred to homogeneously as Kutch, the patterns and embroidery styles differ enough for each tribe to recognise that of the other, even if an untrained eye simply refers to all chain-stitch and mirror-work craft as ‘Kutch’ embroidery.

Maroon Aari & Printed Wall Hanging 34in X 33inAmong the several distinct forms are delicate, floral patterns inspired by Mughal designs that belong to Aari work done predominantly by the Mochi (cobbler) community, with the hook used for this chain stitch form being an adaptation of the cobbler’s awl.

Rabari: Pastoral Community of KUTCH Francesco d'Orazi FlavoniThe Rabari embroidery by contrast is a bold representation of motifs from mythology and the desert surroundings. Mirrors find their way on the textiles of this tribe in many unique shapes.

Another style, practiced by the Sadho Rajput and Megwar communities, is Pakko embroidery, a style characterised by tight square chain and double buttonhole stitches used to create dense patterns. Pakko, meaning “solid”, embroidery gets its name from the legendary notion that this style of embroidery is long-lasting. Even if the background cloth wears away, artisans believe, the stitching will remain. The motifs of pakko, geometric and floral, sometimes supplemented by stylized figures such as peacocks and scorpions, are drawn first with mud, then worked predominantly in maroon or red, dark green, white, and gold or yellow, with characteristic black, and sometimes yellow or white outlining. Threads may be silk but are often cotton.

The style muka, solely worked in couched metal thread, or in Sind, combined with a variation of pakko embroidery, seems to have historically been concentrated in Sind and Dhat, as well as in urban areas of Kutch.

Here in these desert lands, traveling from one region to another throws up styles that may define cultural regions and the phenomenon of a style shared by different communities usually indicates interdependence.

The embroideries of Kutch continue to evolve, with each generation of women bringing forth their fresh experiences onto the fabric. Their lives are embroidered with love in the colors they pick, the patterns they imagine and the way the needle follows their everyday thoughts.

Image Courtesy: Breakaway

References: Elements of Style: The Artisan reflected in Embroideries of Western India by Judy Frater

Ajrakh Legends

Ajrakh is believed to be a symbolic representation of the universe, the blue representing the night sky, the red denoting twilight and the white geometric motifs signifying the stars in the dark sky.

Their fingernails are the color of the midnight sky, and their eyes gleam like diamonds when they talk with passion about the legacy of their family heirloom, the art of printing Ajrakh.

Pic 3

Master craftsperson Dr. Ismail and his son Sufiyan Khatri are two of the very few Ajrakh artists that to date practice Ajrakh printing in it’s traditional form with natural dyes. A legendary name in textile circles, Dr.  Khatri now spends his time taking lectures on the technicalities of the art and leaves the rigorous production process to his sons. The printing process is a test of the artists patience with as many as 16 different steps, which may explain the name of the art. Ajrakh is said to take it’s name from the hindi words, “Aaj Rakh” which means “leave it today”, perhaps signifying the patience required to execute this elaborate and extensively detailed process.

While it is impossible to sum the process in a few lines, the steps roughly involve washing the fabric in a mixture of camel dung, soda ash and castor oil, applying fastening agent myrobalan, applying the resist of lime and gum to define the outlines, handprinting in multiple stages with mordants and dyes, dipping in indigo, washing and sun drying it intermittently. The cloth must rest in sunlight between each stage for the colors to mature, and on average it takes three weeks to complete a turban-length of ajrakh cloth.

Sufiyan learned this craft from his father, master craftsperson Dr. Khatri, who in turn learned it from his forefathers. The khatris have been the custodians of this craft for several centuries. With great ease, Sufiyan can name nine generations of his forefathers, right back to Jinda Jiva who first crossed the salt desert from Sind to settle in Kutch in the 17th century. Today, the family members extract dyes from the same plants and minerals, carve their woodblocks with the same designs, and print their cloth with the same combinations as their ancestors did.

When, in the 17th century, the khatri community settled at the banks of the Saran river in a town called Dhamadka, Ajrakh prints were a staple attire of the Maldhari cattle herders, who became their primary customers. Over time, advances in technology and introduction of chemical dyes threatened the existence of the craft. In the late 1960s almost all Ajrakh artisans had shifted to chemical dyeing.

Dr. Ismail Khatri’s perseverance and love for the craft kept this family rooted to its original natural glory. Today, customers world over are in awe of this intricate fascinating art form. The family has held workshops on the art world over, won several awards and Dr. Ismail Khatri has also been awarded a honorary Doctorate of Arts degree by De Montfort University of Leicester.

The Ajrakh technique is extremely reliant on water for the process to be effective. The earthquake of 2001 not only destroyed the homes of the craftsmen in Dhamadka but also made the water of the Saran river unsuitable for Ajrakh printing. This prompted the Ajrakh artisans to restablish life in a new village named Ajrakhpur, where, with the help of the government, the craftsmen have built sustainable facilities like a water harvesting plants.

 

References: jaypore.com

The delicate art of Chikankari

 

Origin and history

Let’s give you a peek back in time. A centre for prime handloom weaving since the 5th Century, Maheshwar, an ancient town on the banks of Narmada, was originally the capital of the Malwas during the Maratha Holkar reign till January 1818, and enjoyed a considerably elevated status in terms of royal interests. It was this encouragement by the royal family that the Maheshwari saree came into being.

IMG_4309.JPG

Legend has it that Rani Ahilya Bai Holkar employed a special team of craftsmen from Surat and Malwa to design an exclusive nine yard saree that could be gifted to her relatives and guests who visited the palace. With the first saree conceived and designed by Her Highness herself, Maheshwari sarees went on to become a huge hit in the royal and aristocratic circle. Following this, the production of Maheshwari sarees caught up, and these graceful sarees soon started becoming popular with women of all ages. Today, this beautiful textile is one of the best sellers in both national and international markets!

 

Weaving process
Two types of handlooms are used in Maheshwar – the older pit looms which are heavy and fixed, and the newer frame looms with lightweight metal frames. The latter is the more popular type now. The dyed and untangled yarn is now ready for the tedious and time-consuming process of weaving by master weavers. After dyeing, the yarn is normally received by the weavers in the form of bundles. Both in the case of weft and the warp, the thread needs to be freed from tangles and stretched in order to make them tighter. They are then are taken through a process of reeling by using a charkha, thus converting the bundles into small rolls. In case of warp, a big motorised charkha is used; in case of weft, a small, hand‐driven charkha is used, which makes bobbins. In the case of the warping of the silk threads, a more delicate process involving an octagonal cylindrical frame and hooks is used.The fabric was dyed with naturally extracted colours and zari and kinari was used to enhance the richness of this weave. Weavers also used gold or silver threads and gemstones to embellish the intricate patterns and add shimmer to the saree. However, now copper coated nylon wires have replaced the zari and time constraints leave little room for the process of slow natural dyeing. Apart from sarees, Maheshwari fabric today is used for kurtas, shirts, stoles, dupattas, etc. Since the fabric is airy and lightweight, outfits made of this fabric are perfect for the Indian weather, making them an absolute favourite.

Special features
Besides its understated elegance, these sarees are loved by women for its glossy finish and light weight. Though originally done only in silk, Maheshwari sarees are now available in cotton, silk cotton and even wool. With fine cotton yarns in its weft and silk in the warp, this light and airy fabric has the soft lustre of silk. The light fabric makes it a perfect choice for women all through the year, something you can’t do with textiles like Kanjeevaram and Banarasi. The most interesting part of a Maheshwari saree is the pallu. The pallu is done up in bright colours like magenta, pink, green, mauve, violet and maroon. These are particularly distinct with their five stripes, two white and three coloured ones, alternating. Another highlight of Maheshwari sarees is their reversible borders, that can be worn on either side.

img_4308.jpg

Colours
Originally, Maheshwari sarees were woven in earthy shades like maroon, red, green, purple and black. Weavers used only natural dyes for the yarn. Today, Maheshwari fabrics are woven in many jewel tones which are derived from chemicals rather than from flowers, roots and leaves. Popular colours today include shades of blue, mauve, pink, yellow and orange, mixed with gold or silver thread. Subtle colours and textures are created by using different shades in the warp and weft. Gold thread or zari is also used in Maheshwari sarees to weave elegant motifs on the body, border and pallu .

Motifs
Maheshwari sarees are distinguished by their vibrant colours, unusual combinations and distinctive designs that include stripes, checks and floral borders. Authentic Maheshwaris have designs that are inspired by the grand temples, palaces and forts of Madhya Pradesh. Popular designs include the mat pattern, which is also known as chattai pattern, along with Chameli ka phool — all of which may be traced back to the detailing on the walls of Maheshwar Fort. Through its evolution, the eent (brick) pattern and the heera (diamond) patterns have survived the test of time, and still have a strong presence in these sarees.

 

Varieties
There are five popular forms of this lovely weave, namely, Chandrakala, Baingani Chandrakala, Chandratara, Beli and Parbi. While the Chandrakala and Baingani Chandrakala are plain sarees, Chandratara, Beli and Parbi are characterised by stripes or checks.

IMG_4007.JPG

Current state of the art
Following India’s Independence, the Maheshwari industry saw a major decline. However, in 1979, the Holkars of this region founded the Rehwa society to revive the dying craft. Rehwa aimed at providing the women of this region employment while saving an ancient craft that distinguished the historical town. Today, over 130 weavers produce over a lakh of fine fabric a year which is highly coveted by top notch designers in the country. Consistent efforts by the government in the form of schemes and benefits also encourage weavers to work and pass on their knowledge to the next generation which keeps this art alive.

 

Under the patronage of Rehwa, the market value of Maheshwaris has increased, especially in urban areas like Delhi and Mumbai. A major export market in France, the UK and Germany provides a continuous supply of work. This also helps innovators keep pace with changing global trends and cater to the tastes of the changing times. Designers like Soham Dave, Amrich and Eka are some of the frontrunners of the Indian handloom movement and incorporate a lot of textiles from Madhya Pradesh in their collection, including Maheshwari sarees. A modern expression of this fabric makes for its exquisite exotic appeal. These sarees are gaining steady momentum every year, and therefore, are a must have in your wardrobe.

Price range
A Maheswari saree is priced at Rs.2000 and above.

 

How to identify a Maheshwari saree

  • Maheshwari sarees are mostly woven in cotton and silk.
  • These sarees are characterised by a narrow coloured border embellished with zari, and small checks, narrow stripes, or solid colour in the body.
  • The speciality of Maheshwari sarees is its reversible border, also known as bugdi, which can be worn on both sides.
  • The use of zari and kinari is also unique to Maheswari sarees.
  • These sarees are embellished with leaves and flowers on the border, in karnphool pattern.
  • These sarees are known for their unique pallus which are made five stripes, three coloured and two white alternating, running along its width.

Care guide
It’s best not to wash your Maheshwari saree in detergent for the first wash. Use a mild detergent after two or three plain washes, and do not keep the saree soaked in detergent for long. Iron at low or medium heat.

So, right before the season sets in, grab yourself a few gorgeous Maheshwari sarees. Now, a trip to the quaint, historical town of Maheshwar isn’t mandatory for an authentic Maheshwari piece. You can now browse through some of the best designs online, and be absolutely mesmerised by this vibrant and playful fabric.

 

Content credit : craftsvilla.com

KNOW YOUR CRAFT: MAHESHWARI
Technique Handloom Distinguishing factor Reversible border, known as bugdi
Place of origin Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh
Materials used Cotton or silk yarn
Manufacturing hubs Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh
Time taken to weave 3 days
Type of fabric Silk, cotton, silk cotton, wool Varieties Chandrakala, Baingani Chandrakala, Chandratara, Beli and Parbi
Colours Earlier available in maroon, red, green, purple and black; now in a variety Price Plain saree: 1200 INR; saree with zari work starts from 2000 INR
Motifs Stripes, checks, chataichameli ka phooleentheera, designs inspired by temples and forts Care Plain wash for the first two or three times, iron at low or medium heat

You Might Also Like: The Amazing Process Of Weaving A Patola

Textile Discoveries

Excavations at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro have unearthed bone needles and wooden spindles, clearly suggesting that homespun cotton was used to make garments. In fact, fragments of woven cotton have also been discovered from these sites.

Historically renowned for it’s textiles, India’s woven love story dates back several centuries. The first mention of textiles in India can be found in Rig-Veda (a collection of Sanskrit hymns about Hindu Gods) that was written between 1300 and 1000 BC by Aryans. Even ancient epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata talk about Indian fabrics and weaving. Plenty of evidence on ancient Indian textiles or weaves is available in the form of sculptures belonging to the Mauryan and Gupta age along with Buddhist scripts and murals at Ajanta caves. Interestingly, even today, every part of the country weaves a different creative story, each different region weaving a distinctly different pattern. If the world famous Pashmina and Shahtoosh shawls come from villages of Jammu and Kashmir; the villages of Madhya Pradesh are famous for Chanderi and Maheshwari pattern. Tamil Nadu is synonym for a weave named as Madras Checks whereas other parts like Andhra Pradesh and Orissa are popular for the beautiful and now trending Ikat pattern. On the other hand, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat are famous for elaborate Brocades. Other weaves like Jamdani and Taant have their roots in West Bengal.

In essence, weaving as a process involves interlacing of two threads at right angles to form a cloth or fabric. The threads that run horizontally are the weft, while those that run from top to bottom form the warp. Cloth is woven on a rudimentary contraption most often made of wood called a loom.

Pashmina: Made from fine Cashmere fabric, they have the softest texture and detailed embroidered designs on them.

Shahtoosh: This material is actually so fine that it can easily pass through a finger ring. Being of immense fine quality makes it quite expensive.

Chanderi: This fabric is ideal for summers. They are usually adorned with traditional designs, wide/ narrow border (in case of sarees) and perfect balance of contrasting colours.

Maheshwari: This pattern that draws it’s inspiration from the town’s fort is geometric in design. The latter half of the cloth usually carries a 5-stripe pattern (3 coloured and 2 white).

Madras Checks: A combination of horizontal and vertical stripes in different colours that makes for a visual treat.

Ikat: Resist-dyeing pattern gives a distinct look to this fabric. Uniformity of pattern along with spaces at regular intervals gives a very artistic look to the fabric.

Image Courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tendulkar/473392176/

Brocades: Embossed pattern made with or without gold/ silver threads adds a royal touch to the fabric.

Jamdani: Rich in floral, geometric and ancient motifs, this fabric is mostly made of cotton.

Taant: Light and airy fabric, which makes it ideal for hot summers. The best part about all these fabrics is their durability quotient that makes them popular.

Jamdani – A Wondrous Weave

Apart from being a land of deep-seated culture, with colorful festivals, rich literature, varied languages and dialects, and an unparalleled heritage of classical music and dances, India is also a land of expert craftsmen and master weavers, who literally weave magic on the looms!

One such magical weave is that of the Jamdani, which is historically referred to as ‘muslin’. It is considered to be a great technical achievement of the Indian weavers, for the ethereal delicacy of the weave, and the intricate patterns that are created using the unique technique of ‘loom-embroidery’. Typically, Jamdani is a very fine, losely woven fabric with ornate patterns such as florals, mango, peacock, the tree of life etc. The craft is employed to create gorgeous stoles and sarees in cotton and silk that exude a charm that’s almost sensual.

shelf3d.comA craft that finds its origin in the Dhaka district of Bangladesh, it flourished under the patronage of the Mughal emperors who were besotted with its beauty. It is said that on one occasion, Emperor Aurangazeb gave his daughter Princess Zeb-Un-Nissa a severe dressing down for wearing skimpy clothes. She retorted that on the other hand she was fully clothed, with her seven jamas, or garments on her pencil slim body! So sheer were the fabrics that she wore, that they were deceptive! The Jamdani muslin was, and still is, the most celebrated and sophisticated woven textile, worn mostly by the discerning and the affluent.

thehindu.comThe airiness and transparence of the cotton fabric, combined with the beautiful woven patterns lend an enchanting quality to the sarees. Textile connoisseurs have often compared the beauty of Jamdanis to ‘running water’ or the ‘sensual quality of moonlight’.

But behind the effortless grace of a single six-yard beauty is the painstaking work of a weaver who invests long hours for weeks, sometimes months at a stretch to complete it. This hard work fetches them meager monitory returns which leaves them very disheartened.

bangladeshtextileresidency.wordpress.comThe craft received international recognition when UNESCO declared it ’an intangible cultural heritage’. In the past few years a lot of fashion and textile designers have also done their bit by ‘stylizing’ the craft, to make it more popular with the masses. The growing global interest in traditional handicrafts will hopefully ensure that the craft and the craftsmen get the recognition that they deserve.

So, the next time you lose your heart to a dainty Jamdani, you know that a set of nimble fingers have been constantly on it, unknowingly weaving in the weaver’s thoughts, emotions, and a slice of his lifetime!

References: thehindu.com

Image sources: thehindu.com, www.shelf3d.com, Aula Anand via flickr, Russel John via flickr, sareedreams.com, indianyarn.wordpress, bangladeshtextileresidency.wordpress

ROYAL MAHESHWARI SAREES

 

Origin and history

Let’s give you a peek back in time. A centre for prime handloom weaving since the 5th Century, Maheshwar, an ancient town on the banks of Narmada, was originally the capital of the Malwas during the Maratha Holkar reign till January 1818, and enjoyed a considerably elevated status in terms of royal interests. It was this encouragement by the royal family that the Maheshwari saree came into being.

IMG_4309.JPG

Legend has it that Rani Ahilya Bai Holkar employed a special team of craftsmen from Surat and Malwa to design an exclusive nine yard saree that could be gifted to her relatives and guests who visited the palace. With the first saree conceived and designed by Her Highness herself, Maheshwari sarees went on to become a huge hit in the royal and aristocratic circle. Following this, the production of Maheshwari sarees caught up, and these graceful sarees soon started becoming popular with women of all ages. Today, this beautiful textile is one of the best sellers in both national and international markets!

 

Weaving process
Two types of handlooms are used in Maheshwar – the older pit looms which are heavy and fixed, and the newer frame looms with lightweight metal frames. The latter is the more popular type now. The dyed and untangled yarn is now ready for the tedious and time-consuming process of weaving by master weavers. After dyeing, the yarn is normally received by the weavers in the form of bundles. Both in the case of weft and the warp, the thread needs to be freed from tangles and stretched in order to make them tighter. They are then are taken through a process of reeling by using a charkha, thus converting the bundles into small rolls. In case of warp, a big motorised charkha is used; in case of weft, a small, hand‐driven charkha is used, which makes bobbins. In the case of the warping of the silk threads, a more delicate process involving an octagonal cylindrical frame and hooks is used.The fabric was dyed with naturally extracted colours and zari and kinari was used to enhance the richness of this weave. Weavers also used gold or silver threads and gemstones to embellish the intricate patterns and add shimmer to the saree. However, now copper coated nylon wires have replaced the zari and time constraints leave little room for the process of slow natural dyeing. Apart from sarees, Maheshwari fabric today is used for kurtas, shirts, stoles, dupattas, etc. Since the fabric is airy and lightweight, outfits made of this fabric are perfect for the Indian weather, making them an absolute favourite.

Special features
Besides its understated elegance, these sarees are loved by women for its glossy finish and light weight. Though originally done only in silk, Maheshwari sarees are now available in cotton, silk cotton and even wool. With fine cotton yarns in its weft and silk in the warp, this light and airy fabric has the soft lustre of silk. The light fabric makes it a perfect choice for women all through the year, something you can’t do with textiles like Kanjeevaram and Banarasi. The most interesting part of a Maheshwari saree is the pallu. The pallu is done up in bright colours like magenta, pink, green, mauve, violet and maroon. These are particularly distinct with their five stripes, two white and three coloured ones, alternating. Another highlight of Maheshwari sarees is their reversible borders, that can be worn on either side.

img_4308.jpg

Colours
Originally, Maheshwari sarees were woven in earthy shades like maroon, red, green, purple and black. Weavers used only natural dyes for the yarn. Today, Maheshwari fabrics are woven in many jewel tones which are derived from chemicals rather than from flowers, roots and leaves. Popular colours today include shades of blue, mauve, pink, yellow and orange, mixed with gold or silver thread. Subtle colours and textures are created by using different shades in the warp and weft. Gold thread or zari is also used in Maheshwari sarees to weave elegant motifs on the body, border and pallu .

Motifs
Maheshwari sarees are distinguished by their vibrant colours, unusual combinations and distinctive designs that include stripes, checks and floral borders. Authentic Maheshwaris have designs that are inspired by the grand temples, palaces and forts of Madhya Pradesh. Popular designs include the mat pattern, which is also known as chattai pattern, along with Chameli ka phool — all of which may be traced back to the detailing on the walls of Maheshwar Fort. Through its evolution, the eent (brick) pattern and the heera (diamond) patterns have survived the test of time, and still have a strong presence in these sarees.

 

Varieties
There are five popular forms of this lovely weave, namely, Chandrakala, Baingani Chandrakala, Chandratara, Beli and Parbi. While the Chandrakala and Baingani Chandrakala are plain sarees, Chandratara, Beli and Parbi are characterised by stripes or checks.

IMG_4007.JPG

Current state of the art
Following India’s Independence, the Maheshwari industry saw a major decline. However, in 1979, the Holkars of this region founded the Rehwa society to revive the dying craft. Rehwa aimed at providing the women of this region employment while saving an ancient craft that distinguished the historical town. Today, over 130 weavers produce over a lakh of fine fabric a year which is highly coveted by top notch designers in the country. Consistent efforts by the government in the form of schemes and benefits also encourage weavers to work and pass on their knowledge to the next generation which keeps this art alive.

 

Under the patronage of Rehwa, the market value of Maheshwaris has increased, especially in urban areas like Delhi and Mumbai. A major export market in France, the UK and Germany provides a continuous supply of work. This also helps innovators keep pace with changing global trends and cater to the tastes of the changing times. Designers like Soham Dave, Amrich and Eka are some of the frontrunners of the Indian handloom movement and incorporate a lot of textiles from Madhya Pradesh in their collection, including Maheshwari sarees. A modern expression of this fabric makes for its exquisite exotic appeal. These sarees are gaining steady momentum every year, and therefore, are a must have in your wardrobe.

Price range
A Maheswari saree is priced at Rs.2000 and above.

 

How to identify a Maheshwari saree

  • Maheshwari sarees are mostly woven in cotton and silk.
  • These sarees are characterised by a narrow coloured border embellished with zari, and small checks, narrow stripes, or solid colour in the body.
  • The speciality of Maheshwari sarees is its reversible border, also known as bugdi, which can be worn on both sides.
  • The use of zari and kinari is also unique to Maheswari sarees.
  • These sarees are embellished with leaves and flowers on the border, in karnphool pattern.
  • These sarees are known for their unique pallus which are made five stripes, three coloured and two white alternating, running along its width.

Care guide
It’s best not to wash your Maheshwari saree in detergent for the first wash. Use a mild detergent after two or three plain washes, and do not keep the saree soaked in detergent for long. Iron at low or medium heat.

So, right before the season sets in, grab yourself a few gorgeous Maheshwari sarees. Now, a trip to the quaint, historical town of Maheshwar isn’t mandatory for an authentic Maheshwari piece. You can now browse through some of the best designs online, and be absolutely mesmerised by this vibrant and playful fabric.

 

Content credit : craftsvilla.com

KNOW YOUR CRAFT: MAHESHWARI
Technique Handloom Distinguishing factor Reversible border, known as bugdi
Place of origin Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh
Materials used Cotton or silk yarn
Manufacturing hubs Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh
Time taken to weave 3 days
Type of fabric Silk, cotton, silk cotton, wool Varieties Chandrakala, Baingani Chandrakala, Chandratara, Beli and Parbi
Colours Earlier available in maroon, red, green, purple and black; now in a variety Price Plain saree: 1200 INR; saree with zari work starts from 2000 INR
Motifs Stripes, checks, chataichameli ka phooleentheera, designs inspired by temples and forts Care Plain wash for the first two or three times, iron at low or medium heat

You Might Also Like: The Amazing Process Of Weaving A Patola

THE AMAZING PROCESS OF WEAVING A PATOLA

If one could talk of a legend in weaves, Patola silks would be the very epitome of it. Once an exclusive inheritance of royalty and aristocracy, patola sarees were and still are a prized possession, worn exclusively on special occasions like vedic rituals and weddings. Patola sarees are considered sacred in a number of communities. These handwoven wonders are the product of months and years of tedious work and each piece in itself is unique as they can never be reproduced. Its immense value is not just because of its intricacy but also because of the tremendous amount of skill and perseverance that goes into making it.

patola sarees weaving

Origin and history
A double ikat weave, Patola sarees originated in the town of Patan in Gujarat. It is postulated that 700 silk weavers of the Salvi caste of Karnataka and Maharashtra moved to Gujarat in the 12th century to acquire the patronage of the Solanki Rajputs, the ruling class of Gujarat and parts of Rajasthan at that time.

The rosewood sword shaped stick called the ‘Vi’, which is used for adjusting the yarns is where the Salvis get their name from. In fact, patola silks became so popular that even after the decline of the Solanki empire, it was a sign of social status amongst Gujarati women. It formed an essential part of the stridhan or the part of a bride’s property that she got from her own home.

patola sarees weaving

Weaving process
The first step involves tying of the yarn with cotton thread according to the pattern that has been decided. The tying of yarn is done by an experienced master artist as it is an intricate and time consuming process. Measurements can be as small as 1/100th of an inch and requires careful scrutiny. The yarn undergoes multiple cycles of tying and dyeing, following a specific order of colours. Displacement of even a single yarn can disturb the design arrangement and make the entire set of yarns redundant. Every colour has a unique place in the saree and the design has to be carefully aligned while weaving. Such intricacy requires extreme precision and patience. A unique feature of the Patola loom is that it is tilted to one side and requires two people to sit and work together on just one saree. It can take six months to a year or even more, depending on the length as well as the intricacy of the pattern to make one of these Patola sarees.

patola sarees weaving

Special features
Both the warp and the weft thread are dyed in double ikat Patolas. This means the weaving process requires that much more concentration and precision. Even a tiny mistake can ruin the entire design. Because of the unique technique, Patola sarees are reversible and look exactly the same on both sides. Often, even the weaver cannot tell the difference. They are also quite popular for their vibrant colours and geometric motifs.

Colours
Patola sarees make use of natural dyes like catechu, cochineal, indigo, turmeric, natural lakh, harde, madder roots, manjistha, ratnajyot, katha, kesudo, pomegranate skin, henna, marigold flower, etc in the colouring process. Alum, copper sulphate, ferrous sulphate, tin chloride, potassium dichromate and other mordents are also used, the result of which is vibrant colours dominated by patterns of bright red, dark green and yellow.

Motifs
Be it the Jains, Hindus or Muslims, every community added its own value to the Patola silk. While the Jains prefer abstract designs and geometric patterns, the Ismaeli Shi’ite Muslims prefer the Vohra Gaji Bhaat and Gujarati Hindu women prefer the elephant, flower, girl, parrot and paan designs.

Varieties
Based on their origin, there are essentially two varieties of Patola sarees – the Rajkot Patola and the Patan Patola. Rajkot Patolas are single ikat weaves that are vertically resist-dyed, while Patal Patolas are double ikat weaves that are horizontally resist-dyed. Needlessly to say, Patan Patolas are far more expensive as they are touted to be the most complicated textile design in the world. Both sides of the fabric have the exact same design and hence, you can wear a Patan Patola either way.

Current state of the art
An interesting fact is that currently there are only four families that pursue the beautiful craft of Patola weaving. This highly prized craft is a closely guarded secret that is taught to just the sons of the family. A small number of hands working makes this a tediously long process. Even though the artists are packed with orders for the next couple of years, issues of investment, time and disinterest of the younger generation makes the survival of the craft very difficult. Coupled with cheaper, single ikat Patola imitations flooding the market and jarring chemical dyes that are replacing natural dyes, genuine Patola is dying out.

While Patola weavers prophesy that this art will die out in another 20 years in the face of many difficulties, it would be a shame to let something so seamlessly intricate and beautiful be lost. Patola silks are highly appreciated abroad, but their importance has yet to be identified within the country and the younger generation has to be educated in the preservation of such heritage crafts.

Price range
Each saree is priced at Rs.150,000 to Rs.300,000 and this makes Patola sarees part of an exclusive club. If that is too hefty a sum, you can always buy a Patola dupatta for approximately Rs.50,000.

How to identify a Patola saree

  • The mark of a genuine Patola is that even after heavy wear and tear the colour never fades, making it ideal heirloom material. The colours are said to last upto 300 years!
  • Patola sarees are only made of silk as weavers consider cotton a waste for such a precious handloom.
  • The price is also a key identifier for a handloom Patola saree. If the saree costs under Rs.1,00,000 you might just be buying a fake.

Care guide
It is best to dry clean a Patola saree and store it in a saree bag. Do not use detergents on the saree or let it be exposed to harsh sunlight.

 

Content credit: www.craftsvilla.com


KNOW YOUR CRAFT: PATOLA
Technique Handloom Distinguishing factor Reversible with the exact same pattern on both sides
Place of origin Patan, Gujarat Materials used Silk and natural dyes
Manufacturing hubs Patan, Gujarat for double ikat weave; Rajkot, Gujarat for single ikat weave Time taken to weave 6 months to a year depending on length and complexity of design
Type of fabric Silk Varieties Patan Patola and Rajkot Patola
Colours Bright colours like red, dark green, yellow Price Rs.150,000 to Rs.300,000
Motifs Geometric patterns as well as elephant, flower, girl, parrot and paan designs Care Dry clean and store in a saree bag

POCHAMPALLY IKAT WEAVING

Before we see the process in detail illustrated with images, the laborious & artistic process can be summarized briefly as follows…

IKAT – is a type of weaving where the warp, weft or both are tie-dyed before weaving to create designs on the finished fabric. Great care must be taken in tying resist areas with water repellent material such as bicycle inner tubes cut into strips. The precision of the wrapping determines the clarity of the design. After wrapping, the warp threads are dyed. When finished and unwrapped, the areas under the ties have stayed the original colour. Numerous colours can be added after additional wrappings. Designs generally are worked out on graph paper. Great care must be taken in putting the warp on the loom, keeping all the threads in position is necessary for the design to work. The natural movement during weaving gives ikat designs a feathered edge which characterize this technique .

Each weaver works from home with all the family helping in different processes. Perhaps the grandmother is winding bobbins, while the wife is marking out the design on warp threads and the husband is weaving on a pit loom in the main living area. In one corner rice is being sieved and tamarind is spread out. A child wanders around and a baby is in a hammock. Life revolves around weaving

1.  Yarn widing from Hank to Bobbin

 

2. Preparation of Weft on Tie & Dye frame

3. Marking of Design on Weft on Tie & Dye
Frame with Charcoal/Fountain Pen Graphed design
for tie-dyeing the threads before putting on loom.

4. Dyeing with First(lightest) Colour

5. Repeat the (Tie & Dye) process for
Third/Fourth Colour as required according
to the Colour in the Design After tying the
silk threads are dyed. Then the ties are
removed revealing with designs and texture
created by the ties on the woven fabric.
This is a labour intensive craft

6. Placing of the Tie & Dye weft on Tie & Dye Frame for Rewiding

7. Winding of Tie & Dye Yarn on to Parivattam

8. Pirn Winding from parivattam for Weaving

9. The warp in Preparation for Dyeing

10. Stretching the Warp and Each Unit is Separated from the next group

11. Warp Attaching to the Reed

Weaving

WEAVING

WEAVING

Exquisite Jamdani

Introduction and etymology

Belonging to a region where exemplary craftsmanship seems to be the norm, Jamdani stands heads and shoulders above other comparable forms of textiles. One of the finest and most celebrated examples of Mughal brilliance in art and craft, Jamdani is an exquisite and laboriously weaved form of muslin whose earliest origins are still shrouded in mystery. Ethereal in its appearance, the textile derives its name from two Persian words; ‘Jam’ meaning flower and ‘Dani’, a vase. Traditionally weaved in the Bengal canton of erstwhile undivided India, it was originally called Dhakai, referring to its industrial centre in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Known for its thin, gossamer-like appearance with ornate and embellished patterns, the textile requires painstaking effort of skilled artisans that makes it expensive and a sign of opulence.
In 2013, the craft was inscribed in UNESCO’s List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, making it yet another reminder of the Indian subcontinents’ fabled and distinguished textile industry, and carving a niche for one of the finest examples of artistic brilliance.

History

Jamdani finds fleeting mentions in pieces of literature as ancient as Arthashastra (3rd cen. BC), and also occupies space in accounts of travellers & traders from China, Arabia and Italy who noted its unparalleled finesse and delicacy. The birth of Jamdani however is unclear, but it enjoyed patronage from Jehangir, an artist himself. It was during this period when the Bengal region, one of the richest provinces of Mughal Empire, became a hub for Jamdani’s weaving industry. Jehangir’s patronage elevated Jamdani to a status of royalty and a sign of luxury, and was much admired by visiting European dignitaries and ambassadors who were enamoured by its intricacies and quality.

 

Descent and Decline

“Just like the empire itself, the industry gradually fell into disdain. “
By the mid-eighteenth century, Jamdani along with other genteel fabrics saw a rapid decline. With the Mughals plagued by infighting and political turmoil, Jamdani lost its strongest benefactors it was ordained with.
With the advent of mills in Manchester and rise of colonial powers in the subcontinent, Jamdani fell behind its power loom competitors as it required strenuous labor and copious amounts of money to keep the industry running. By the end of 19th century, the industry was all but lost in oblivion and the once bustling and fabled mills of Dhaka fell into disuse and neglect.

Screen Shot 2017-12-03 at 12.27.01 PM

Weaving

The production of Jamdani requires a high degree of skill and sophistication, making it quite expensive and time-consuming to produce. Weaved on a brocade loom, its weaving is similar to other handloom weaving techniques, wherein every supplementary weft motif on the sari is added separately by hand using small bamboo or tamarind wood shuttles. The delicate motifs are drawn on a graph and are superimposed with the warp. Because of its onerous embelishment, a Jamdani sari may take anywhere between a month and a year to complete.

 

Varieties

Jamdani is popularly classified on the basis of its motif’s design or by its region of origin. The popular motifs are Panna Hajar (thousand emeralds), Kalka (paisley), Butidar (small flowers), Fulwar (rows of flowers), Tersa (diagonal patterns), Jalar (motifs across the expanse of the sari), Duria (polka dot) andCharkona (rectangular motifs).

Dhakai Jamdani is the finest and most elaborate example of all Jamdani saris. Produced in Dhaka, it is renowned for its eclectic designs and intricate workmanship. Tangail Jamdani (Bangladesh) features the traditional broad borders with motifs that mimic ‘meenakari’ effect. A little closer to home, the Shantipur Jamdani (India) is known for its delicate checks, stripes or a texture made by coloured threads or a mixture of fine and thicker yarn. Dhaniakhali Jamdani (India) is known for its tighter weave, bold dark colours and contrasting borders.
Despite a gradual demise, Jamdani muslin has re-emerged and is thriving by adapting to changing tastes and trends. By simultaneously keeping the wonted designs and techniques intact and adapting itself to suit contemporary styles and tastes, the cherished fabric has reinvented itself and achieved the status of prestige it once enjoyed.

Source : parisera

The Benarasi Story

Introduction and etymology

One of the most recognisable and popular saris of India, Benarasi silk saris remains one of the most coveted possessions of women in Northern India. Originating from the ancient holy city of Varanasi, these saris are known for their gold or silver brocades and painstakingly exquisite engravings. Because of its weighty embellishments and embroidery, they’re known to be quite heavy, nevertheless these weighty saris find a place in every visitors wish-list travelling to Varanasi. Characterised by gracefully entwined floral ornamentation’s, Benarasi silk saris evoke imagery of delicate metallic visual effects and vigorously weaved friezes.

Known for their skilled craftsmanship, weavers of Benarasi silk saris take immense pride in the fact that pieces of their efforts are adorned by a majority of Indian women on their weddings and other festive occasions.

History

Benarasi silk saris find mention in the epic Mahabharata and ancient Buddhist texts, reaffirming its status as the region’s most cardinal contribution to the subcontinent’s illustrious heritage of fine textiles. However, the present day Benarasi silk saris found their mould during the Mughal rule of North India, where they were influenced by a heightened aesthetic perfectionism of the rulers originally from Persia. Floral motifs, kalga, bel and jhallar are all examples of Mughal features, otherwise noticed in buildings exhibiting Indo-Saracenic synthesis.

The weighty brocades are legacies of numerous generations of weavers who are said to have migrated to Varanasi from Gujarat during the early 17th century. These weavers employed in cottage industries around Gorakhpur, Chandauli, Bhadohi, Jaunpur and Azamgargh districts, continue to flourish and foster, owing to an immense demand for their highly intricate and celebrated pieces of art.

Weaving

Benarasi silk saris are produced in cottage industries known as karkhanas, scattered in districts around Varanasi. Traditionally weaved by the Momin Ansars of Uttar Pradesh, their skills are handed from father to sons for generations and the styles and motifs weaved differ from karkhana to karkhana. The artians colloquially referred to as karigars, traditionally weaved on pit looms but now use Jacquard looms. This modern loom makes space for pre-planning of the entire design and then proceeding mechanically.

The silk for these saris are brought from the finest silk producing regions of India, notably the four South Indian states. Silk from Kashmir and Bengal are also appreciated, but the crème of Benarasi silk saris see use zari threads drawn from real gold, adding a cherry to the already elaborate and refined loom work.

Varieties

Due to the distinct motifs of each karkhana, Benarasi silk saris have been ordained with various forms within the form. Each cluster of karkhana has recogniseable minuet decorations, while other variations in weaving processes also occur and lead to variations with style and finesse. Pure silk saris are popularly known as katan, while ones with infused zari are called kora. Gorgette is also used to weave these saris, while more contemporary employ the use of shattir fabric.

Diversification in Benarasi silk saris also occur on the basis of designs, namely jangla, tanchoi, butidar and cut work sari amongst others. Jangla saris are most easily distinguishable of all Benarasi saris, with elegant vegetation motifs scrolling all along sari’s length. These nature inspired patterns give the style its name and is believed to be the most ancient of all Benarasi brocades. Tanchoi employs heavy zari-work making it apt for weddings and other ceremonies. Butidar saris are the finest of them all, with gold and silver zaris giving it a mildly contrasting appeal, with the two meant to evoke the imagery of Ganga-Jamuna.

Screen Shot 2017-12-03 at 12.04.03 PM
Ancient wooden Benarasi loom

Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 12.41.06 PM.png

Source : parisera

Handcrafted Kalamkari

Introduction and etymology

The ancient craft of Kalamkari can be traced back to 3000 B.C with the hand painted fabrics discovered at the sites of Mohenjadaro. Kalamkari or Qalamkari is derived from two Persian words Qalam (Pen) and Kari (Craftsmanship) that literally means ‘hand painting’ designs on fabrics using a bamboo or tamarind pen with natural dyes. A celebrated art form that gave life to the stories that were otherwise told orally.

History

Long ago, in the vibrant land of India there was a popular form of storytelling where singers and performers called Chithrakattis wandered from village to village, singing the praise of God. They introduced the art of drawing the stories on fabrics and used it as a tool to tell the stories of mythical folklores. Thus, Kalamkari was born amidst the artisans who manifested beautiful fabrics containing the scriptures of the land. In the period between 13th and 19th century the chithrakattis settled in the villages of Andhra Pradesh where the Golconda Sultanate of Hyderabad patronized the art of Kalamkari. We can find beautiful panels of Kalamkari in temples in the state of Andhra Pradesh as the Mughal rulers helped in cherishing the artwork and called the artists ‘qualamkars’ from which the craft acquired the name ‘Kalamkari’. It was also used as a currency in the spice trade that flourished across Southeast Asia, Europe and Middle East where the Kalamkari was done according to the respective nations like wall hangings to the Southeast, canopies and prayer rugs in Meharab designs to the Middle East and tree of life inspired bed covers to Europe.

Screen Shot 2017-11-30 at 3.53.25 PM.png
Kalamkari Artisans at work. 
Screen Shot 2017-11-30 at 3.54.34 PM.png
Wooden blocks used for Kalamkari painting.
Varities

Srikalahasthi, Machilipatnam and Karruppur are three places where different varieties of Kalamkari is practiced. At SriKalahasthi, it is completely hand drawn using the pen and filled with natural dyes and the designs are a complete representation of Hindu texts like Ramayana, Mahabharata. They also draw the Gods and Goddesses, a symbol of the many temples of the place. The Machilipatnam technique is heavily influenced by the Mughal sensibilities and uses blocks to create the outline of the design which are prominently floral veins. The Karruppur technique was developed in the Tanjore region of Tamilnadu under the Maratha rule where the craft was used as an embellishment to the brocade work of the fabrics adorned by the royalty like Raja Sarfoji and Raja Shivaji.

Screen Shot 2017-11-30 at 3.55.49 PM.png
Motif of Gods on the six yards of splendor.

Making, Motifs and Colors

The process of creation involves many steps that are carefully executed keeping the traditions intact for many centuries. The passage of time has evolved yet rooted to the land. The cotton fabrics used for Kalamkari is first treated in a solution of cow dung and bleach and let to be soaked for few hours. This gives it an off-white color. After this, the fabric is soaked in a mixture of buffalo milk and myrobalans which helps in keeping the colors intact from bleeding. It is later washed, dyed, waxed and indigo vat dyed, removed was and bleached, and further washed on which the process of drawing begins. The dyes used are naturally obtained from roots, plants and vegetable matter combined with the iron and mordants like alum.

A bamboo stick with hair for bristles is used as a pen to draw the motifs. There are two nibs, one is flat edged which is used for dispersing large amount of color and the other one is sharp edged for drawing the outline. These kalams are used for guarding the integrity of the craft. The motifs are heavily influenced by the temples, scriptures, Persian artwork and the religion. The design narrative change according to the style of Kalamkari. The colors are natural hues like red, yellow, blue, etc.

Present Scenario

The market is highly polluted by the onset of screen printed fabrics that are mass produced which led to the extinction of this craft. Famous designers and revivalists helped in bringing back the craft by associating with the artisans and producing dedicated collections.

 

HERITAGE IKAT

Introduction and etymology

Screen Shot 2017-11-30 at 3.25.29 PMArt is from nowhere but belongs everywhere is an understatement in the world of Ikat. The art of creating a technique that will fashion a niche for itself among the connoisseurs and also flourish in the roots of the system is a wonder by itself. Ikat is derived from the Malay word ‘Mengikat’ that roughly translates to ‘Tie’ which attributes to the grand and complex tradition of tying or binding a set of threads in order to create a pattern across the canvas.

History

There isn’t a technique in the modern textile world that is as ancient and relevant at the same time as Ikat. The origin of this craft is varied and doesn’t attach to one particular region in the world. The craft has thrived as a bystander of the trading practices and thus, has travelled the world along the famous trade routes. It was even used as currency in the Silk Road. The craft, although distinctly associated with Indonesia, no historian has been able to ascertain the exact location of origin for this craft. It has evolved and flourished all over the world.

 

Weaving

There are two different types of Ikat, Single and Double. The Single Ikat method is where either only the Warp or the Weft is tie and dyed with different colors so as to create patterns. The second and the advanced method is Double Ikat where both the warp and weft yarns are resist-dyed, making the weaving process complex and grand. The Double Ikat is produced only in three countries: India, Japan and Indonesia.

 

Varieties

A beautiful Ikat fresco is seen in the Ajanta caves, Maharashtra which is dated back to the 7th Century CE. Throughout the ages, the Indian weavers have defined and reinvented the process suiting the modern sensibilities.

Andhra Pradesh is famous for Pochampally Ikats which were one of the first to receive the GI status from the traditional craft sector and Telia Rumal is another indigenous Double Ikat which has evolved from what it originally was – headgear to Arab Travelers. As the name suggests, the yarns are treated with Oil (Tel) before weaving. Thus, the Telias distinct with red, black and white color, diamond and flower patterns are famous. The craft had seen a major decline in the late 90’s and has in the recent time picked pace due to the unflinching support from handloom lovers and collectors.

Ikat from Odisha called Bandhas are visualized and inspired from Lord Vishnu’s symbolic forms. Motifs predominantly used are Elephants, Lotus, Fish and Rudraksha. The bright colors invigorating elements of earth makes Odisha Ikat unique and mesmerizing.

Ikat from Gujarat is the famous ‘Patola – Queen of Silks’ .The geometric patterns and flaming colors are distinctive characteristics of the Patola. The motifs and colors palette is similar with Odisha Ikat like animals, fish and other graphics in the shades of blue, green, yellow, etc. The Double Ikat woven in Patan or the Single Ikat woven in Rajkot boasts the traditional designs.

Modernization of Ikat

In the recent years, one can find Ikat being adapted and modernized by designers all over the world. The color palette has evolved, designs remain true to the land and the fabric has moved from the humble six yard story to adding oomph and subtle glamour to the home décor. Fashion icons have picked the craft and reinstated it into the high end fashion scene, thus creating a whirlwind of change to the craft.  The great designer, Madeline Weinrib has once stated that ‘Ikat is not a print, it’s an heirloom”

Madrid’s photographer marathon

Far far away, behind the word mountains, far from the countries Vokalia and Consonantia, there live the blind texts. Separated they live in Bookmarksgrove right at the coast of the Semantics, a large language ocean. A small river named Duden flows by their place and supplies it with the necessary regelialia. It is a paradisematic country, in which roasted parts of sentences fly into your mouth. Even the all-powerful Pointing has no control about the blind texts it is an almost unorthographic life One day however a small line of blind text by the name of Lorem Ipsum decided to leave for the far World of Grammar.

[blockquote text=”Far far away, behind the word mountains, far from the countries Vokalia and Consonantia, there live the blind texts.” show_quote_icon=”yes”]

Far far away, behind the word mountains, far from the countries Vokalia and Consonantia, there live the blind texts. Separated they live in Bookmarksgrove right at the coast of the Semantics, a large language ocean. A small river named Duden flows by their place and supplies it with the necessary regelialia. It is a paradisematic country, in which roasted parts of sentences fly into your mouth. Even the all-powerful Pointing has no control about the blind texts it is an almost unorthographic life One day however a small line of blind text by the name of Lorem Ipsum decided to leave for the far World of Grammar. The Big Oxmox advised her not to do so, because there were thousands of bad Commas, wild Question Marks and devious Semikoli, but the Little Blind Text didn’t listen.

%d bloggers like this: