Exhibition of diverse ethnic textiles from across the country

History has romanced Indian textiles through the ages — as the vetri venti (woven out of breeze) fabric of Roman chronicles; as part of the fabled Silk Route, the chintz so beloved of 17th Century England; as Indonesia’s sacred ‘ikat’ cloth traded from Gujarat etc.

The romance continues to this day with weavers, hand-block makers, embroiderers, tie-and-dye artisans and others creating the sheer diversity, regional aesthetics and unique beauty of Indian textiles. Each of these weaves and techniques has evolved across centuries, through the artisan-artist’s harmonising genius and skills.

Yet, it has great contemporary relevance and appeal for a huge domestic and growing international clientele as haute couture favourites and not the least, as part of the country’s textile heritage. And, a city exhibition is proof of this.

The Crafts Council of India presents Vastra, a showcase of textiles using different hand weaves and created with crafts such as kalamkari, resist-dyeing, Sanganer and other block-prints, innovative weaves, Kashmir embroidery and tie-and-dye bandhini techniques done by master artisans and national awardees. Their creative oeuvre includes saris, scarves, stoles, running material and designer wear.

The richness of Varanasi

Varanasi is the centre one of India’s oldest weaving cultures, with its fabled weaves creating fabric poetry in warp and weft. Saris and stoles created by master artisans are showcased at Vastra. Delicate floral sprays and paisley ‘amris’ splattered across fine cotton bring a lyrical touch to Sanganer’s block-prints created by national awardee Brij Balabh Udaywal. Basheer Ahmed Jaan’s exquisitely embroidered Pashmina shawls with Kashmir’s roses, tulips, chrysanthemums and the beautiful maple leaf too are on show.

From Uttarkhand come wool, silk, Pashmina, eri and Mooga textiles dyed in colours got from local fruits and flowers — marigold, walnut, onion, pomegranate and rose. All the water used for textile processing such as washing and dyeing is recycled and used for irrigation after filtering.

Sufian Khatri’s brilliantly complex Ajrakh block-printed fabrics, stoles, dupattas and saris — each a piece of fabric heritage — are on offer. Flowing sensuous flowers and curling vines painted with ‘kalam’ in natural dyes bring the beautiful art of kalamkari on saris, dupattas and stoles. Bailou’s fabric with the subtle beauty of the weave is a montage of colour and creativity.

And there is more. Look out for Ghantawala’s block-printed and rare Mushru saris, the ‘Rare’ collection of matka, Kota, cotton and Chanderi saris, ‘Karomi’s’ wild silks, hand-spun cotton and linen in innovative textures with overlays of hand block-prints, and vividly coloured contemporary range of saris and yardage using traditional design from ‘Raw Mangoes’.

Some of the master artisans will be present at Vastra to talk about their creativity — its past, present and future.

(Vastra is part of has been organized to coincide with World Crafts Council’s Kaivalam. The exhibition is on till from October 8 to from 8th to 12 th October at Lalit Kala Akademi, Greames Road), Chennai.

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