It is the festive season and you have all the excuses in the world to shop. Srishti brings to Coimbatore some of the best craftsmanship from the country
I now own a sari from Kharik Bazaar. Do you know where it is? It is a small village near Bhagalpur, known for its gamcha, or the thin red thundu-like towels. But Leena Das from NIFT worked on the weavers, persuaded them to go a step further and use their weaving skills and yarns to create saris. You would never believe that my beautiful green and magenta sari took its inspiration from the humble gamcha (visit Village Art, if you don’t believe me).
Every time Crafts Council of Tamil Nadu show, Srishti, comes around, one is astounded at our country’s craft. Not just that, it is heartening that traditional weaving skills are being reinvented to keep them going. So, gamchas are transformed into saris, mirror work from Kutch adorns not just saris, but also cushion covers, bedspreads, batuas, mobile pouches and dupattas besides stoles, skirts and blouses.
At Nupur’s, a mother and daughter combination exhibits hand-painted Madhubani saris. While mom Moushumi does the designing, daughter Nupur is in charge of marketing. The painting is done with a very fine nib with vegetable colours. At Wama (Women’s Artisan’s Marketing Agency) you encounter all the colours, exuberance and beauty of Gujarat. One can’t help noticing two bright pink cloth bags inset with embroidered patches. They are pieces from old toranams that have been rescued and reinvented. Wama also has hand-embroidered skirts, blouses, yokes and some gorgeous silk tie and dye dupattas. Some stunning bedcovers employ traditional embroidery of the state including the kaantha-like Khudi Teba stitch and appliqué and mirror work. Smita of Wama works with women in Kutch who create these beauties.
While on one hand there is reinvention, creativity and out-of-the-box application of traditional handicraft, there are some who steadfastly hold on to the traditional, and thank god for that. For example, Chanderis with small butas! One despaired of ever seeing the elegant, understated Chanderis of yore. Huge, shiny motifs having swallowed them up (weavers say it does not make economic sense to spend so much time and effort on the small butis as the demand is always for bigger, bolder and shinier). But Tulsi Ram Koli, bless him, offers a few old fashioned ones. Jyotsna Rongala from Hyderabad has decided there is nothing like the traditional pattu sari. She has exquisite silk saris in delectable shades. At least two prospective buyers at her shop, 9 Yards, exclaimed how the colours reminded them of their grandmothers. They are in gorgeous blues and oranges, greens and reds, black and white checks, manjal/kungumam combos …Anything you buy will be a prized possession.
Sridevi Handlooms from Andhra offers kalamkari, malkha khadi and ikat.
Anagha from Hyderabad has ready-to-wear blouses in a wide range of sizes and colours and styles.
There are also pretty jhumkas and necklaces in case you are thinking of accessorising your saris. Here, Amrapali deserves mention. They are back with an all silver and gold plated collection. For interesting evening bags, peep in at Neela Thamarai. It was nice to see Maya Mantra from Tirupur with its embellished saris and terracotta jewellery and Athepoo from Erode with its beautiful mirrors, artefacts and furniture.
You have not quite shopped out till you have considered some of the pots and planters just outside by Gaia. The smaller pots look perfect for growing coriander, mint or curry leaves on your kitchen window sill. Imagine breaking off the garnishes fresh from the pots even as you cook. Just like Jaimie Oliver or Nigella Lawson.
Srishti is on at Ramakrishna Kalyana Mandapam, Avarampalayam till September 21 between 10.30 a.m. and 8.30 p.m. Credit cards are accepted and there is plenty of parking.