Handloom silk sarees are weaving a storm in bangalore - Kasturi Silk Sarees

BENGALURU: A sea of indigo greets visitors walking into the Bangalore International Centre at Domlur. Hanging loftily from the ceiling are beautiful blue handwoven sarees, a tribute to the art of handloom. The three-floor exhibition Centre is draped in hues of yellow, red and white, with intricate thread work like the Bengali jamdani and three shuttle weaves. The Registry of Sarees — a city-based organization enabling design and curatorial projects of handmade textiles in collaboration with textile curator Mayank Mansingh Kaul, has put on display 52 sarees from a collection of 108 designs, all part of a 2003 exhibition titled ‘Khadi – The Fabric of Freedom.’ This time around, however, Kaul says, they wanted to refrain from using the term khadi. “There’s a lot of difference in Gandhi’s idea of khadi and the khadi we see today. It’s now become a government institution. It has become a high-end luxury fabric and the art and history behind it seems to have faded into the background.”
The exhibition, open till April 6 in Bengaluru, recently travelled to Chiral, a small town in Andhra Pradesh, famous for its handloom industry producing kit weaves. It was primarily for the weaving community. They set it up in a government school where more than 80 weavers came together to study the fabric and techniques. It was more like a workshop, Kaul says. “The weavers told us that the way we displayed the fabrics, it made them feel like artists, not labors.”

The second leg was at Coimbatore’s iconic Lakshmi Mills. “There, too, we got a good response, but, interestingly, a lot of people who visited were upset that none of the fabric was available to purchase,” Kaul says.

Efforts like these, Kaul says, are meant to facilitate the study of design and quality of textiles, to reflect on their relevance today and for the future. Ask about region-specific weaves and the efforts for their revival, Ally Matthan, the co-founder of the Registry of Sarees, says reducing textiles to regions is detrimental, an opinion echoed by Kaul.

And why not, when the world of textiles is so fluid, like for example Kanchipuram designs are being done on Banarasi sarees, the Kota Daria from Rajasthan has a GI tag from Mysore, Chanderi, a traditional weave from Madhya Pradesh, is being used on Banarasi sarees.

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