Maheshwari fabric and saris are presented with unusual borders, shaded colours and more....

Traditional weaver, block printer and embroiderer come together in creative synergy on a canvas provided by the legendary Maheshwari saris at an exhibition at Mrignayanee currently on in the city. While the silk- cotton Maheshwari fabric and saris are presented in unusual broad borders, shaded colours and a touch of mercerised stiffening, chikan embroidery in unique motifs, and Bagh's block printed magic add a charming dimension to the range.

The typical densely woven border comes in many avatars -shakkarpara, leheriya, hamsa, checks, piping and much more giving each sari a special resonance.

Ravi Chauhan, traditional weaver from Maheshwar, has woven brilliant textile magic in bright jewel colours, soft shot colours and tonal shading. The interplay of unusually broad traditional borders woven in rich colours, all over stripes or even the drama of black is compelling.

Unique genre

Chauhan works on looms in a cottage setting. His other innovations include woven tussar, mixed wool borders, etc. Says Chauhan “It was in the 17th century that Rani Ahilya Bai got weavers from Maharashtra to create this unique genre of saris with their typical borders..”

Embroiderer Shabih Ali of Indore embellishes the saris with chikankari stitches.

While the motifs are traditional flowers such as rose, nargis, etc., and ‘amris', it is their juxtapositioning which creates magic. A melding of Hindu motifs with the original chikan motifs includes ‘rangoli' patterns, the peepul leaf and motifs of ‘naquash' work taken from the walls of Maheshwar fort. Shabir's repertoire includes dramatic white on white ‘jaal' work kurta fabric and dupattas featuring roses, leheriya patterning, all over ‘amri' in white on a black background and a wealth of superbly embroidered saris, stoles, etc.

“We work in a joint family setting,” says Shabir adding that hundreds of women have been trained in this skill by master embroiderers. Bagh block prints in vegetable dyes from Gwalior with the motifs taken from cave paintings, as well as traditional ‘butties' and ‘amris' add t another dramatic touch. The motifs are typically diffused yet vibrant.

The Maheshwari Sari Exhibition is on at Mrignayanee, TNHB Complex, 180 Luz Church Road, Mylapore, till December 24.

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