Weaving wonders

WARP AND WEFT Panika spins a traditional magic

WARP AND WEFT Panika spins a traditional magic   | Photo Credit: PHOTO: BHAGYA PRAKASH K.

Master weaver Gobardhan Panika casts his spell on fabric at the Oruna exhibition

"As a little boy I used to watch my grandfather and father working on the loom. I would marvel at the patterns they created. My father often said I have to continue the family tradition. Today I'm glad that I have not only got the tradition going, but also have received the highest recognition from the Government," says a contended Gobardhan Panika, Orissa handloom weaver and Presidential Award winner of 2004. Panika's magic can be seen at the Oruna Exhibition at Bimba - the art hut."After I received awards from the President and the Prime Minister for the `Tribal Bagchura Chunni' that I created as a sampling with variety signature motifs of the Oruna tradition, I am regularly invited to take part in all the major national melas. People who have started recognising me say `Aa gaya Orissa ka Gandhi babu' and I feel elated. "When the President saw my work at Vigyan Bhavan before the Awards Ceremony and praised my work, my joy knew no bounds!" Hailing from Kotpad village of Koraput district in Orissa, Panika says: The Oruna weave uses hand spun cotton yarn from the Handloom Society which is then treated with a back-breakingmonth-long dyeing process even before being made a fabric. The dyes are extracts of the Aaljhaad tree barks. Only two primary shades are used - textured red and coffee brown. The process involves soaking the yarn in oil, mixing with cow dung for disinfecting, washing in a running stream, boiling it 40 times for seasoning and roughening for a coarse feel. The barks are separately taken out in flakes for powdering in a refined process that gets mixed and boiled with the yarn. "To weave a chunni (dupatta) it would take a week, and a sari, a month," says Jema Panika, Gobardhan's wife who works with him on the basic loom.As far as motifs go, Panika says: "We have off-whites with red and brown borders. The motifs used to be Orissa's temple borders, bell-shaped hangings, buttis, stars, straight stitches of runners, jungle creatures and large patches of the weave coming in as borders. Now we have fish, crabs, peacocks and also creative ways of placing them that gives a reformed aesthetic value to tradition." A sari price starts at Rs. 2,000 while a dupatta price start at Rs. 400.Panika resists moving into other colours and mediums, "as the grammar, language of the wept and warp and designs are intrinsic to the region.""Originality and ingenuity of artistic expression are to be appreciated in their true forms," says Deepika and Deepak, whose idea of bringing in Panika into Bimba was to introduce an art that was devoted to its roots. Staying within the confines of artistic grammar is Gobardhan Panika's obeisance to the weave. The Oruna exhibition is on till November 12. Bimba - The Art Hut is located at Jayanagar 4th Block. Phone -41489354. RANJANI GOVIND

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