Pick a Maheshwari sari that once enjoyed royal patronage and now depends on you for its survival
It is so romantic, the sari. And if one cares to do a bit of digging around there are stories and bits of history that make it even more attractive to the wearer.
Take the Maheshwari saris from Madhya Pradesh. The Royal Holkars patronised the weavers. The story goes that Ahalya Bai Holkar commissioned saris from them, but gave instructions that there were to be no floral motifs. The weavers, looking around for inspiration, found it in the little alcoves and parapets, battlements and turrets of the Maheshwar fort.
If you care to look closely, an original Maheshwari sari will have less of the floral patterns and more of the chatai (mat) inth (brick) and hira (diamond) weaves.
Check out for yourself at the Rehwa exhibition where Maheshwari saris and dupattas cast their diaphanous spell.
At the roomy Whispering Stones gallery, they murmur seductively as they hang in pretty rows. Cool whites, greys and gold on one side and earthy blacks, reds and greens on the other.
While the traditional Maheshwari saris are there in all their splendour, there are also those that are innovative and have the Sanganer block print. The marriage of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh is successful as the pretty and delicate Sanganer motifs sit well on the delicate weaves of the Maheshwari.
The saris and dupattas are from Rehwa, a not-for-profit organisation started in 1979 to revitalise the Maheshwari weavers. The weaving industry had come to grief over the years and Rehwa pulled it back from the brink. Rehwa sustains and nurtures the hand-weaving tradition, especially empowering women weavers.
So, when you pick up one of the gorgeous saris or dupattas or salwar kameez material, you are directly injecting a fresh lease of life to a craftsperson and a handicraft that would otherwise languish and fade away.
The Rehwa exhibition is on at Whispering Stones (Perks Arch Road) today and tomorrow between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. There is ample parking space and credit cards are accepted. For details, call 96552-13331/0422-2574280.