A wealth of weaves and patterns

Chennai:01/09/2010: The Hindu: For Friday: Tussar silk_Ikat sari, Chattigarh.   | Photo Credit: scanned in chennai

According to textile experts, the zig-zag patterning in the raiment of many Ajanta figurines (1st – 6th Centuries CE) is the replica of the Ikat weave still being woven in the area.

If one looks closely at the 17th century artist Nainsukh's Pahari miniatures, one can see Krishna in an indigo ‘angavastram' and the ‘nayika's lehnga' spattered with mini roses, her diaphanous ‘odhni' fitting Manucci's description of Mughal ladies in “finest muslin woven with gold thread….”

The Ikat and indigo-dyed fabric, the exquisite block prints, the zari work and ‘finest muslin' are still part of India's textile and sari heritage, which also includes rare and magnificent weaves such as the Paithani and Ashavali, Benaras, Maheshwari, Kota, Chanderi and Khadi, apart from Tussars and cottons.

Dazzling collection

The Crafts Council of India brings the best of this textile heritage to the pre-festive, ‘Textile and Jewellery Show,' which opens today (September 3) in the city.

The dazzling collection is as much about the masterweaver and craftsperson's traditional genius as the brilliant synergy between the designer's vision and the artisan's skill.

There are magnificent Benarasis in every imaginable colour and motif, the timeless Bandhini and Patola and the rare Ashavali, rich Paithanis in jewel colours, exquisite block prints on Tussars, silk and cotton, ethereal Dhakais, embroidered vegetable-dyed saris, antique textiles and much more. Each is a unique composition. Each tells a story.

The designers

Says Rema Kumar, a Delhi-based textile designer, ‘I work with some of the finest master weavers from Balarampur, Kanchipuram, Mangalgiri, Champa, Chhattisgarh and Kota. “I give them my design template of weaves. Then I add embellishments by Kalamkari artists from Srikalahasti, Soof embroidery from Bikaner, Pattiwork from Aligarh and so on…”

Shambhavi Khaitan has a workshop in Kolkata where weavers from Phulia create their magic based on her design concepts. “I see the sari in its totality” says Shambhavi, “and use both jewel tones and the drama of black and white in my handwoven Khadis and silk saris. Some of my designs are Shibori-inspired. Others are based on designs from books.”

Radhika Lalbhai's passion has been the revival of the rare Ashavali sari, an ancient weave which according to her predates the Benarasi saris.

Says Lalbhai: “The Ashavali weave is complex, like a brocade and its beauty lies in its enameled multi-coloured look.”

From the winding alleyways of Kolkata comes the Bailou sari in which weaving techniques such as Jamdanis and double cloth weaving are used.

There are other fascinating saris, Telias with embroidered borders, ethereal Chikankari saris, ‘pencil dot' handwoven silk-cottons, Kantha embroidered saris and much more.

Yardage, scarves, kurtis and dupattas are also part of the textile collection, which includes embroidered and patchwork blouses.

One must not miss the range of silver jewellery from Curio Cottage, apart from the Kundan, Meenakari and uncut diamond jewellery from Patna.

The Textile & Jewellery Show is part of the Crafts Council of India's mission of reviving and nurturing the country's textile and craft traditions and providing marketing support to the weaver's / artisan's creativity.

The exhibition, which is on view at Hotel Sheraton Chola, Cathedral Road, concludes tomorrow.

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