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Jewels from the loom

THE FABRIC OF INDIA At Weaves Photo: S. Siva Saravanan

THE FABRIC OF INDIA At Weaves Photo: S. Siva Saravanan   | Photo Credit: S_SIVA SARAVANAN

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Weaves showcases everything handmade and exquisite

Mohammad Arif is only 22 years old, but when he speaks of the khadi cotton-silk he weaves back home in Bhagalpur, his voice takes on great depth. Unlike many other participants at Weaves, Mohammad, who mans the Lovely Handlooms’ stall, is not from a weaving family. He picked it up about four years ago, and is now in love with the textures he can create on his loom.

The Weaves exhibition teems with such stories. Take, for instance, Ram Vinod of Kiran Fab and Prints. He’s from the village of Sanganer near Jaipur and makes stunning block-prints on fabrics, just like the way his ancestors did. He has soft cotton and Chanderi fabric, interesting vegetable-dye creations and super soft sets in cotton Kota.

Check out the silk-cotton dupattas in Mohammad’s store. Priced at Rs. 300, they’re lovely, and come in muted pinks and greens and bold blacks. He has bolts of fabric in bold colours — in raw silk, cotton, eri silk and a linen-cotton mix.

Stalls from West Bengal rule the exhibition this year. There are pretty hand-painted silk saris in subtle off-whites and dazzling reds and blacks. Fancy cottons line most shelves. But where are the traditional Bengal cotton saris? “Where’s the demand, madam?” asks a shopkeeper. “Inexpensive saris from other places have wiped out our market. This is the only way we can survive. There’s little business outside of the State for traditional stuff,” he says.

At East India Company, whose name is a throwback to the erstwhile seat of the British Empire, the proprietor is busy arranging his eclectic range of silks. He’s a happy man — he saw whopping sales on the inaugural day, with many customers buying in bulk. Check out the hand-painted and designer saris in his store. Red, rust, white and black come together in a stunning soft silk sari. A gossamer jamdani in yellow is eye-catching. There’s just one piece left. When you get indecisive, the owner tempts you with a smile: “You need just one rupee to maintain these saris. That’s all a shampoo sachet costs, right?”

Tussar is the star at the stall put up by A.S. Handlooms’ from Bihar. Dupattas here range from an affordable Rs. 850 to Rs. 1,000.

For a blast from the past, visit Renuka Boutique from West Bengal. A profusion of Kolkata batik saris, which most of us wore when younger, awaits you here.

Near Mohammed’s store is another Kolkata store that sells Jamini Roy-inspired painted saris. The one he unfurls in black is a vision! These are priced upwards of Rs. 7,500.

There are stalls from Jammu and Kashmir; head there for some elegant crewel embroidery. Weavers from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have brought in lovely ikat weaves and Pochampalli saris, soft uppadas and sturdy silk saris with no zari.

Just near the entrance is Bharat Handloom Silk from Bhagalpur. If you’ve been planning to make some light-weight silk salwars, this is a good place to visit. A metre costs about Rs. 200 and the staff assures you you’ll come back for more.

That’s something everyone who leaves Weaves will agree with. The exhibition manages to strike the right balance between creativity and commercial interests. Nothing seems out of reach, and so nearly everyone gets a chance to take home a piece of art.

Weaves is on till July 22 at Suguna Kalayana Mandapam, from 11a.m. to 9 p.m.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 5:51:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/jewels-from-the-loom/article6228750.ece

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