In need of patronage

Beautiful block prints from Chirala

Beautiful block prints from Chirala  

THE TEXTILE heritage of Andhra Pradesh is well known. But now it seems to be clouded to a certain extent with the increasing deaths of weavers. With increasing help and patronage the weavers can surely tide over the crisis to a large extent. The Crafts Council of Andhra Pradesh in its annual exhibition Akruthi Vastra (today is the last day) at Kamma Sangham Hall (Ameerpet) is sponsoring saris from Dubbaka (from Medak district for the first time), Bobbili and Chirala.

Bobbili saris showcased at the same exhibition last year were a sell-out. It is not surprising considering the reasonable pricing and good quality cloth. In mercerised cotton (100 by 100 count) these saris are mostly plain with simple borders or with checks and stripes. Priced between Rs. 300 and Rs. 450, they are a steal. "Initially the saris were woven only with borders but we introduced the stripes and checks," says Sreenu, who belongs to a family weaving these saris for four decades.

Dubbaka in Medak district has a large population of weavers most of whom are in penury now. The weaving tradition here is akin to the one at Pochampally with a little difference.

"The designs are created both in the warp and weft at Pochampally, whereas at Dubbaka the designs are created in the weft. Originally saris were woven in four colours namely black, yellow, red and white with big borders. Now we have introduced 20 more colours and reduced the border size," says Srinivas, president of the cooperative society.

Traditional saris from Dubbaka

Traditional saris from Dubbaka  

In bright colours with borders, these mercerised cotton saris can be picked up for Rs. 350.

Hemant Kumar from Chirala brings salwar kameez and saris (in cotton and mercerised cotton costing between Rs. 350 and Rs. 800). Some of the saris almost look like Gadwal (at a lesser price than Gadwal). A range in Chirala is Kalanjali, which is bright and slightly showy for weddings and other occasions.

"We used to make lungis before we branched into saris. We wove material in cotton and synthetic, which was sent to Madras and later sent to Nigeria for about two decades. The Nigerians used this as a lower garment. Subsequently they switched over from their traditional garment and we stopped our supplies," says weaver Hemant Kumar.

Talking to weavers Sreenu, Srinivas and Hemant Kumar one gleaned the difficult conditions faced by them. "A weaver committed suicide just two weeks ago," says Srinivas. Most of the weaver's cooperatives don't have the resources to make large investments.

Alluring colour combinations from Bobbill

Alluring colour combinations from Bobbill  

Even participation at handloom and other exhibitions require money for travel and accommodation, which is not readily available for the communities. The weavers have modernised a bit as far as designs go but to go full scale they require capital. Promotion, marketing and sales are crucial for the sustenance of the weaver and the tradition.

It is here that the CCAP is doing its bit. But they would certainly go a long way if others (government and private) come forward for their betterment.

Perhaps customers can help by purchasing the saris and dress materials today.


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