Banarasi brilliance dazzles Delhi

Madhur Tankha

NEW DELHI: Offering a rare insight into the creativity of Varanasi weavers is a six-day exhibition of handlooms that opened at Alliance Francaise de Delhi here on Thursday evening.

Living in cramped cottages, denied exposure to fashion and latest design trends, the weavers of Varanasi, locally known as Banaras, are guided solely by centuries of craft memory and inherited tradition and skill. That they manage to produce the most exquisite handlooms that can give competition to any imported product speaks volumes about their dedication to their craft.

A tribute to the memory of artiste and textile designer Jadunath Supakar, who strode the world of textile design like a colossus for over three decades and whose genius was discovered by none other than cultural activist Pupul Jayakar, the exhibition titled “Kashi Kaleidoscope” has been conceived and curated by his son, designer Sribhash Chandra Supakar.

The senior Supakar’s designs evolved largely during his years at various weavers’ service centres have produced innumerable pieces of textile artistry.

Sribhash’s design inputs and creative perception bolstered by the lessons he learnt from his distinguished father give the exhibition the right amalgamation of modernity and innovation.

Hand-spun yarn

According to Sribhash, who continues to live in Varanasi, it is only after Independence that the country’s development efforts have brought hand-woven fabric, the craftsmen to the centre stage. “The gossamer delicacy of our textile tradition was primarily because of the superfine count of its hand-spun yarn. In the past 20 years, I have tried to keep some looms working on jamdani, kadhwan, phekuan and gethua. ”

Stating that Varanasi is doubly dear to him, Alliance Francaise de Delhi’s president M. Varadarajan says apart from experiencing the spiritual vibes of this ancient city and the magic of its craftsmen’s fingers, he has enduring memories of his mother who lived on the banks of the Ganga for four decades.

The exhibition is on view till September 29 at Galerie Romain Rolland.