Dastkar Andhra is back with amazing choices of saris and dupattas in khadi silk and kalamkari motifs

Dastkar Andhra’s handloom experience is back again in the city, bringing with it an incredible range of saris, yardage, dupattas and made-ups. From jewelled to mellow tones in natural and reactive chemical dyes and touches of innovative design the Dastkar Andhra product stands apart.

At Dastkar’s exhibition of ‘Saris, Yardage and Dupattas’ now on in the city, there are amazing choices on offer: saris and dupattas woven with stripes, checks and an interweaving of colours; Ponduru khadi saris and yardage with typical borders which once graced dhotis in a range of natural dyes; block-printed khadi silk and kalamkari motifs.

Every product at the exhibition is the work of 450 weavers from Andhra, whose lives have been transformed by Dastkar Andhra’s initiative of design inputs, technological and marketing support with a commitment to ensure work for the weaver throughout the year. This mini revolution has also been innovative and aesthetic, focusing on revival of indigo vat dyeing, an introduction of eco-friendly reactive chemical dyes and creation of a design language which combine existing skills, design formats and weaves with innovation.

Reviving the art

Vannappa, an indigo dye maker, Sambhashiva Rao and Dharamendra, designers, Ravi Babu, paramparik weaver, and B. Sriramulu, a handloom technology expert, who are present at the exhibition, give the textile revolution an identity. Says Vannappa as he rolls out yards of deepest indigo material which he himself had dyed “My father, who comes from Anantapur, which is a vat indigo dyeing centre, taught me how to make the dye, but I gave it up along the way. In 1989 Dastkar Andhra revived indigo vat dyeing and my father became their technical expert. He taught me the craft again. I can tell the right consistency of the dye by just the look and the smell of it.”

He is steeped in indigo dye and says, “The indigo pot is like a god.” His oeuvre of indigo and other natural dye khadi yardage and saris come in both plain and block printed kalamkari motifs.

According to Sambhashiva Rao and Dharamendra, who are a part of the production team, “Handloom design has to be approached differently. Our job is to put together the borders, colours and designs and give it to the weavers. It is often a collaborative effort.” Weaver Ravi Babu from Chinnapuram say, “We weavers are happy with the increased income from Dastkar.”

According to Durga Venkateswaran from Dastkar Andhra asks, “Production of handloom is eco-friendly. It is done in homes with no burden on external sources of energy. The weavers have intricate knowledge of a layered technology. Why should we lose it?” The Dastkar Andhra exhibition on at Lalit Kala Akademi concludes today.

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