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Threads of life

COLOURFUL: Attractive textiles and art pieces at the Cottonfab expo

COLOURFUL: Attractive textiles and art pieces at the Cottonfab expo   | Photo Credit: S James

Cotton Fab 2018 is in the city for the fifth consecutive year with a range of products

The artisans of the Awadh Hathkargha Hastshilp Evam Gramodyog Samiti from across the country are in the city exhibiting a myriad ethnic weaves. There’s handloom cotton and silk, apart from a host of craft and art work indigenous to their regions. They pitched their tents a week ago at the Gandhi Museum ground but are disappointed by the lack of patronage.

More than 100 designers, weavers, crafts persons drawn from 22 States are part of this year’s exhibition-cum-sales but unfortunately for them business is yet to pick up. The Samiti aims to promote traditional rural art and exquisite skills and provides a platform to the artisans to sell their products directly to customers. “The first time we came in 2013, the response was overwhelming,” says Javed Khan, the manager of expo, “but ever since, footfalls have been dwindling.” This year so far, there has not been even 100 walk-ins a day and of them, less than 50 per cent purchase, he points out.

Yet, the Samiti chooses to bring the artisans every year to the Temple town and many other smaller cities in the region because it is important for the weavers to remain economically relevant and contemporary.

“Big cities are saturated with such exhibitions. Even if business is not good for us, we feel it gives an opportunity to the locals to at least see what we are making and we too get to know what customers want,” says A Shabeer from Bihar who has brought mulberry silk and cotton sarees, dress material, and dupattas.

Anil Kumar in the adjacent stall is from Jammu and Kashmir selling cotton kurtas with colourful embroidery. He says he often gets tired with customers who keep bargaining.

“We are bearing the brunt of cost of threads which has phenomenally increased following GST. But customers do not understand our plight and feel the cost of products is high,” he rues.

The collection of 1,50,000 varieties of work at the Cotton expo can throw up a feast for the eyes in terms of new designs, motifs, patterns, techniques, colours and culture. The vibrant tie-dye colours of Gujarat’s bandhani, Uttar Pradesh’s ethereal chikankari, Madhya Pradesh’s subtle Chanderi and West Bengal’s jamdaani are some of the highlights of the annual expo.

Here, one can hear of stories behind the artisans’ skill and what it takes to save handloom weavers in a market dominated by power looms and screen prints. Bengal’s kantha stitch, Punjab’s phulkari and the Banarasis in bright colours are evoking more interest this year, says Javed.

The Cotton Fab expo is a fascinating place to learn about the different types of authentic weaves and prints from different parts of the country. The screen prints of Buddha and Durga’s face over done in the last two years on different types of fabrics has taken a back seat this year. Instead, there is a profusion of Kalamkari saris in mellow vegetable colours, Rajasthan’s Kota in pastel shades and the rare Uppada, Mangalgiri, Maheshwari and Sambalpuri ikkat in lovely combination of colours with golden or silver zari borders.

There are stalls selling handmade glass and lacquer bangles, floor rugs in different sizes, wooden toys, jutis, handbags, metal bracelets, terracotta and oxidised jewellery.

Prices range from ₹100 to ₹15,000. There’s free parking. Open from 10.30 am to 9.30 pm on all days till January 7.

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Printable version | Apr 9, 2020 9:40:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/cotton-fab-2018-is-in-the-city-for-the-fifth-consecutive-year-with-a-range-of-products/article25798712.ece

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