Forty years ago, B. Krishnamurthy dropped out of school after class VIII, to join his father in the weaving and designing business started by his grandfather.
Today, the 53-year-old master weaver/designer has 18 weavers under him, and knows that were he to shut shop as a weaver, he could still make a living selling his designs.
Recently honoured by the President of India for his exquisite work in silk, Krishnamurthy is constantly creating new patterns. He browses through his grandfather’s and father’s repertoire of designs and improves and innovates for newer, more intricate patterns.
“We can weave 108 designs in a sari. All the big silk cloth merchants seek our designs,” he says.His son and daughter, both of whom are studying engineering, are not going to carry forward the profession, he says. His 2009 creation of a red silk sari with an exquisitely designed pallau depicting ornate wedding jewellery, won him a covered national award. The sari is still on display in New Delhi.
Meanwhile, Krishnamurthy is not resting on his laurels. He has created a stunning work of art on 25 metres of silk, filling it with 5,015 motifs. He estimates that the cloth can be sold for Rs. 4 lakh. “It is not for sale, though I know that the product will help me repay my debt,” he says.
It took him 18 months to create a special loom for the cloth and another four or five months to weave. “The normal loom for weaving a silk sari is only 41 inches but I needed wood to create a 60-inch loom. I am planning to weave another similar cloth but this time around, I will make the designs more intricate to make it appear like prints,” he said.
He hopes to win the prestigious Sant Kabir Award that is reserved for master weavers above the age of 55 years with his magnum opus.
R. Sujatha speaks to a master weaver and designer about his exquisite craft