How can you not want to meet someone who has done a PhD on the Patteda Anchu sari? The rough-textured cotton handloom sari drapes beautifully and stays in place even on an all-day assignment. And sari lovers may never have worn or indeed learnt about it but for Hemalatha Jain. Besides this, Hemalatha has also revived the almost extinct Gomi Teni, Hubli and the Lakundi saris. “I am bringing them all to the Crafts Council Bazaar,” she promises.
- Hemalata is happy to tell you more stories at the CCTN Bazaar
- When: June 29 to July 4, 10.00 am to 8.00 pm
- Where: Suguna Kalyana Mandapam, Avinashi Road
- What: Please carry your own shopping bags
In the field of textile weaving, designing and curating for more than 15 years now, it has been a wondrous journey, by all accounts. “I picked Patteda Anchu for my research, as it is one of the languishing crafts in the country,” says Hemalatha. It was a bit like chasing a mirage, she laughs. “I kept hearing about it from weavers I met but I couldn’t find even one sample. Weavers told me stories about it and described the weave to me and, after nearly two years worth of investigation and questions, I managed to get a sample. It belonged to a Devadasi from Yellamma Saundatti temple. I met her granddaughter who is a teacher and she led me to the old lady. It took me eight further months to meet her.”
The old lady showed Hemalatha the sample but would not part with it. “So, I took pictures, measurements and managed to pull out a yarn from the sari,” says Hemalatha happily. “It was a traditional red and yellow...” She recalls that when she launched the sari how many older women came up to tell her they were looking for these saris but had not found them anywhere. She is quick to point out that these saris are also for the young. “They are ready to wear, reversible and zero maintenance.”
The Gomi Teni sari she launched in 2017. “Also from North Karnataka, it has a distinctive V-shaped design picked out on the border that represents the Jowar stalk. Jowar is considered a sign of prosperity and growth and therefore traditionally gifted to pregnant women by their parents,” explains Hemalatha.
The following year, it was the Hubli saris with their flower motif. “These are actually woven in Bagalkot and Gadag but sold in Hubli, hence the name stuck. These elegant saris are usually worn by married women,” adds Hemalatha who brought them back to the handlooms from the powerlooms where they are mostly woven today.
She is excited about another languishing weave, the Lakundi. Describing them as ‘farming community saris” these are hardier, more colourful and come with a broad colourful border of eight to 10 inches at the bottom and a shorter border in the upper body.
Hemalatha is jubilant about the buzz in the weaving circles of Karnataka. “When we began, we just had two weavers; now we have more than 40 on the handlooms, both men and women. And more want to weave the saris,” she says. She is also trying to raise funds to set up a trust for them. “The weavers continue to give me precious inputs. Sadly, my oldest weaver passed away last year. He was 85. At the moment the ones working on these saris are between their 40s and 70s. But I am hoping to bring in younger weavers too.”
Best of all these heritage saris that Hemalatha is bringing to Coimbatore are priced between ₹1, 000 and ₹3, 500 (the latter is for the saris handwoven with Khadi yarn and are natural dyed). “We are cheap actually,” she giggles.