Chira, from Chirala to Delhi

Saris by weaver Yarasi Venugopal, on display at the Dastakari Haat Studio in Delhi

Saris by weaver Yarasi Venugopal, on display at the Dastakari Haat Studio in Delhi   | Photo Credit: Vangmayi Parakala

Ikat saris in natural dyes, with colours that surprise and lines that stand out

There’s a whole town in Andhra Pradesh that is named after saris. Chirala — derived from the Telugu word ‘chira’ meaning sari — in Prakasam district is specially known for its quality handloom cloth, saris, lungis, and panchelu (dhoti). There are thousands of looms in just this town, and hundreds of registered exporters. As a handloom industry, it has its struggles; but as a handloom cluster, its weavers are prolific and entrepreneurial.

One such weaver from the area, Yarasi Venugopal, has sent a limited collection of 32 saris to the Dastakari Haat Studio in Delhi. The collection, with his original designs, prominently features a naturally-dyed ikat. Other khadi-cotton saris, in refreshing creams and whites, just in time for the summer, have an intersection of lines to form broad checks in darker hues.

Venugupal says this is the first time he is retailing this set of designs. When you thumb through the stacks, you may think there’s nothing too special about these saris. Open them up, and you’ll find bright colours (not just indigo and madder) meeting each other at the intersection of big, patch-like patterns, quite unusual in ikat: yellows made with pomegranate, a fresh green that blends indigo and pomegrante, a cool grey from the roots of the rakta jyoti, and a striking black courtesy Venugopal’s blend of iron rust and jaggery.

“Just wash separately in cold water mixed with salt for the first time,” advises textile doyenne Jaya Jaitly, in case you’re apprehensive about colour running. Naturally-dyed textiles usually last for hundreds of years since this colour, unlike chemical dyes, does not corrupt fabric.

Venugopal says he has 20 looms under him, and works with about 37 weavers, mostly women. “It takes 60 days to make just five saris from scratch,” he says. “About 30 days to dye the yarn, 10 days in the pre-loom process, and 20 days to weave.”

Dastakari Haat Studio, Shop #12, Meharchand Market, Lodi Colony, New Delhi. 10:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m., except Sundays. Or, order directly from Venugopal at +91 8977322852

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 10:28:51 AM |

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