The Tantavi Heritage exhibition in the city will showcase saris, stoles and more created using handloom fabrics and natural dyes

In ancient India, the colours that textiles were enhanced with were taken from Nature — plants, tree bark, flowers and such. Combinations could never go wrong with Nature’s colours. Europeans studied the chemical structures, analysing each dye to create suitable substitutes in their laboratory. It was a gradual intrusion that spanned a large part of the 19th Century. This severed the proximity Nature enjoyed with dyeing.

Brilliance of colours

The chemical colour palette with its brilliance of shades stormed the bastion of the hitherto limited dye bank. It cost less, and was easy to prepare and procure. The world of textiles was soon governed by this plethora of colours.

Only purists and concerned environmentalists decried the use of chemical dyes and began to revert to natural dyes for hand-woven fabric, supported by textile activists and the guardians of handlooms.

In a bid to encourage natural dyes and to create public awareness, The National Centre for Textile Design, in association with the Weavers Service Centres throughout the country, has worked on a collection of hand-woven saris, dress material and stoles that use only natural dyes. Its brand Tantavi Heritage uses natural fibres such as cotton, silk (mulberry, muga, tussar eri, etc), wool and pashmina.

The Weavers Service Centres focus on product development to evolve marketable products through their expertise in design, weaving, printing and processing. Training courses are run for weavers and those who wish to learn the process of weaving and printing.

The centre disseminates improved techniques and new designs, and provides market support by arranging interface among designers, producers and buyers, including execution of sample orders.

Traditional designs

The centre is holding the Tantavi Heritage exhibition in the city. B. Paul, director, Weavers Service Centre, New Delhi, says, “The designs have been based on traditional heritage designs of all popular handloom products in the country.” It is the first time that the North East has been represented in such an exhibition. The products have been developed by weavers and printers and national awards recipients such as Gajam Anjaiah, Ram Kishore and Khemraj.

The exhibition presents a range of saris, stoles, shawls, yardage and bedspreads. Gossamer saris such as Chanderis, Maheshwaris, Balaramapurams, sheer Avadh Jamdanis and Benarasi cottons grace the list, besides Bomkais, ikats, bandhinis, Madurai chungdis, balucharis, coarser saris from Nagpur, tussars, and those such as Manipuris, Mugha silks, Mekhala Chaddar sets and many more. Other special textiles include ajrakh and mushroom yardage, Kullu and Pashmina stoles, and bedspreads from Panipat.

The exhibition is on from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on March 12, 13 and 14 at Chennai Trade Centre.