Shohel Abdul Sattar Khatri is a tie and dye artisan from Bhuj, and his passion for the art is reflected in his innovative sari designs -- a bird’s eye view of the ‘gumbaz’ of Humayun’s tomb conceptualised as abstract concentric circles.
Varanasi’s National award winning weaver, Haji Munna Haji Noor Mohammad’s piece de resistance is a hand-woven net sari with separately woven ‘rang card’ border. Shilp Guru Rehana’s nuanced flower strewn chikankari sari is an ode to perfection, a celebration of the six shades of white defined by India’s poets. And for his ‘special’ sari, designer Pradeep Pillai of Delhi, travelled to Sarnath to pick up Buddhist motifs that are translated on to the desi tussar Nalanda sari.
Each sari is a one-off creation, a jugalbandi of designer interplay, texture and motif melding with new materials and edgy abstractions, where embroidery collaborates with folk art, different blocks coalesce, and in a stroke of creative genius, ajrakh meets tie and dye.
Each sari has been specially created for The Crafts Council of India’s biannual ‘Textile Show’ which unfolds the history and geography, the art and craft and the regional diversity of India’s textile traditions.
The brings together legendary weaves: Benarasi and Paithani, Uppada, Maheshwari and Chanderi, Tanghail, Tanchoi and Baluchari, Venkatagiri, Chikankari, Gajji, mushru and much more.
Each sari tells a own story and none tells better than the creators, many of whom will be present at the exhibition. Says Shohel Khatri, “In my collaboration of ajrakh and tie and dye, the first of its kind, I have block printed alternating six-inch wide stripes of complex ajrakh dyeing and six inches of tie and dye, both complex and demanding techniques. The tie and dye motifs are often abstract, and done using the Bharti Bandhej technique which only few artisans can master. This is my forefather’s profession and I went back to it after doing my B.Sc.”
Ghanshyam Sarode, a C.A. aspirant turned craft revivalist, has brought new life to Uppada saris by introducing the Dhakai jamdaani weaving technique in geometric and floral motifs. Today his richly patterned cotton-silk and silk Uppadas are much sought after festive and bridal wear. Maharashtra’s Paithini has also acquired rich heritage overtones with his revival programme. “I have a collection of old Paithinis which I have revived with traditional motifs of lotus, parrot, peacock, the ashavali creeper and buttis. I am bringing one such sari to the show. I have also revived the traditional cotton Paithini.”
There are textile flavours from Bengal too in the Tanghails, Dhonakalis and Baluchari saris created by the designer duo, Chinmoy and Swati Basu, “ We have revisited old designs,” say Chinmoy. “Our innovations include the introduction of the floral motif in the usually geometric Dhakai sari as well as pallus in the Tanghail.”
Designer Ravi Koli and Delhi’s Kunjika Gogna use traditional weaves and blocks to create both geometric motifs on Chanderis in pale pink, sea green, turquoise blue and white. And leheriyas by Ikramuddin make waves to add to the summer magic along with khadi saris of Ramanand Basak.
No textile and sari story is complete without the queen of weaves – the Benarasi. The Weaver Silk Centre has silk, kora, cotton and georgette from Varanasi. Says designer Vipin Mehta, “We do Benarasi weaves with classic ‘amri aadi,’ ‘konia butti’ and ‘pauri butti’ as also more contemporary ones with different body and border colours, minimalistic motifs, etc.” He displays a sari featuring a Kathak dancer with her troupe, woven by master weaver Chandra Prakash Mehta.
The ‘Textile Show’ is on at the Lalit Kala Akademi, No. 4, Greams Road, today and tomorrow (April 5 & 6), 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.