Saris of Maya boutique highlight vintage weaves


Smitha Srinath’s boutique Maya celebrates 10 years, highlighting the beauty and history of weaving

It is a visual treat at Maya when the founder of the curated sari boutique at Basavanagudi, Smitha Srinath, spreads out the six-yard handloom wonders in silk and cottons one after the other. “Each sari has a story,” she says, narrating tales on yesteryear design sense and the value attached to the classic weaves.

“Though silk weaving has become modernised, preserving the old motifs and patterns will help enrich and keep alive our textile heritage”, she says. “When I came across a cotton sari with the motif of Gandabherunda (the two-headed mythological bird), I went to one of my weavers in Kanchipuram and requested him if he could replicate it on silk. After intently examining the weave, his reproduction in zari looked royal,” says Smitha showing the shimmering violet piece that has the bird on the pallav. “I always rummage into old saris and try duplicating them on silks. My curation helps weavers revive forgotten designs.”

Saris of Maya boutique highlight vintage weaves

For her boutique’s 10th anniversary, Smitha held a sale-cum-exhibition of silk and cotton textiles recently. Whether in colour, weave or design, body, border or pallav, the overall mood is nostalgic. “I select vintage saris of the 1950s and 60s and have them woven again in shades of grey, coffee brown, and even black! This is apart from blues and greens and lighter shades that stand out for contrast borders. People who do not want the usual mustards and maroons are enticed into picking them when they notice the old-world charm,” says Smitha, showing a legendary korvai weave where techniques intricately explore the manual attachment of borders during the weaving process.

“This is one of the hallmarks of a Kanjivaram weave,” she says. The laborious korvai process enhances the Kanjivaram’s bold use of colour, and the labyrinthine weaving in itself brings about a design feature.

“From a straight line interlock to traditional sharp-edged triangles and temple inspired gopuras, there are a multitude of designs that emerge from expert weavers,” explains Smitha who works with artisans in Kanchipuram, Rasipuram, Arani, and Coimbatore.

Smitha’s interest in saris and textiles was inspired by her observation of senior family members who would wear the best of cottons and silks. “Although I graduated in architecture from the Bangalore University long back, after a short stint in the US, I came back to my woven-fabrics and started Maya with minimum stock in 2009,” says Smitha who also deals with cotton saris in Mangalagiri, Pochampalli, Kanchi, and cotton-jacquard, apart from Patola in silks.

The design variations are better experienced when she explains each of the weaves in silk and cotton. For example, Pitni Kanjivaram involves skilled weaving to dovetail the pallav with the main length of the sari. Mubhagam (or three parts) has the sari distinguished in three shades with eye-catching motifs. The mayil (peacock) chakra, malli (Jasmine) moggu, veldaari (wavy lines), checks, flora and fauna and several other temple motifs woven in zari and thread are some more of her stylistic additions. “I also have double pallav saris which is another time-tested pattern that can be worn both ways. It was popular amongst agriculturists who found it convenient to interchange and wear them both sides before and after work,” says Smitha. Block printed Mangalagiri cottons are also part of the collection.

Smitha offers handloom silk and cotton fabric yardage suitable for tailoring in both Western and Indian styles, while throwing them open for embellishments too. “People should know what they wear. I sometimes draw the weave patterns to help them understand the weft and warp. That’s one reason I enjoy it when people take an appointment and come here, as I can devote time for their buy,” says Smitha.

Maya’s (Basavanagudi) cotton saris range from ₹1000 to ₹15,000; while silks are from ₹7,500 to ₹35,000. Call 99023 56001 for details or visit

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2020 7:39:36 PM |

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