Both pure cotton and silk Kota form part of ‘The Weaves of Kota’ exhibition, which is on till
Kota doria is a unique and an almost transparent weave whose production process by Rajasthani villages tells its distinct textile story. Soft to the touch, yet with a serried feel at the edges, it is woven on a traditional pit loom in such a fashion that it produces square checks patterning on the fabric. The delicately wrought checks are known locally as ‘khats’ that gives Kota doria a transparent look and ethereal feel. Spread to dry in the lawns, the essentially rainbow coloured fabric often gives the countryside a surreal look of fields of colours merging in the sun.
Weaver Noor Mohammed whose family has woven Kota doria saris for countless generations is steeped in its history and lore. He uses near poetic analogy to describe the unique method of peg warping and brush sizing which is special to the Kota doria process. “We brush onion juice and rice paste with a lot of care into the yarn. It makes the yarn so strong that no additional finishing process is required once the fabric is woven.”
He continues “I come from Kaitheen, the biggest Kota doria producing village in Kota district. Ours is a village of 15,000 people and we have 2,500 looms. We are weavers who have been working here for 300 years though our fore-fathers were brought here by Maharao Kishore Singh in the 17 Century.”
Noor Mohammed has a large sized eight ft by eight ft pit loom in his house, where three to four people work. “I am the weaver,” says Noor, “and I translate the design drawn by the traditional designer on paper. The yarn is prepared by another expert before we set up the loom. There are two expert dyers in the village, as also block printers, dabu experts, etc. Yet another helper takes the saris and fabric to the lawn for drying.” Weaving is done at pit looms with the shuttle technique which has a great potential for improvisation. The designs are transferred on to the fabric using dobby, jacquard or the jaala techniques. While the yarn is procured from Bangalore, the real zari is from Surat. Both vegetable and azo free chemical dyes are used.
The actual weaving, Noor Mohammed says, is a labour of lore. “We often improvise on the loom and always keep changing it keeping the client in mind.”
The collection which he has brought to Chennai for ‘The Weaves of Kota’ exhibition features the work of 100 weavers. Both pure cotton and silk Kota form part of the exhibition, apart from a wide range of silk cotton saris, tie and dye, leheriya, Dabu resist and Indigo block prints that are on display.
Soft, ‘sherbeti’ colours with pure and tested zari borders, jewel tones, silk cottons and cotton saris with dramatic broad borders form part of the evening wear collection. Festive wear saris include floral and vine motifs woven all-over in gentle colours, enormous gold amris woven on border and pallu as well as alternate stripes of gold and silver on borders. Pure silk tissues in lovely yellows and greens, deep blue and vibrant yellow saris with dramatic pallus and borders in zari are other saris displayed along with designer duppattas and stoles.
The ‘Weaves of Kota’ exhibition is on view at The Palace, 1/23 A, 7 avenue, Besant Nagar, Chennai - 90.