The united colours and weaves of India

  • By Hindu
  • | Thursday | 7th December, 2017

Cotton and silk apart, the skilful handiwork of the weavers are also available on georgette, crepe, tussar and chiffon. There is a profusion of kalamkari saris in mellow vegetable colours, the Banarasis in bright colours, Bhagalpur’s exquisitely woven matka silk fabric, Rajasthan’s Kota or Bengal’s Kantha stitch. Looking at this year’s exhibition, it appears hand block prints on cotton and silk are doing well. Motifs of Buddha’s and Durga’s face, dancing peacock or the mudras of bharatanatyam innovatively embellished are arousing much interest. The cotton expo is also a good place for learning about the different types of weaves and prints the different regions of our country boasts of.

The problem with handloom expos these days is that they have become repetitive and there are so many that happen, especially during the festive season. And yet you get drawn to them hoping an unexpected bonanza.

This time around the Cotton Fab exhibition has set up stalls in the spacious grounds of Gandhi Museum and brought in more number of States and their artisans to display the fabric, weaves, crafts and artworks indigenous to them. But as always and as at any other big exhibition-cum-sale, you really have to spend hours and keep the discerning eye to dig out a piece that will put you on a high.

From the vibrant tie-dye colours of Gujarat's bandhani and Uttar Pradesh’s ethereal chikankari fabric to Madhya Pradesh’s subtle Chanderi or Tamil Nadu’s soft Kanjeevaram and West Bengal’s shadowy jamdaani saris – all and much more are the highlights of the annual expo that one loves to see. But more often than not I find myself at such places for a specific reason too. You get to meet the handloom workers, the artisans or the master craftsperson who with utmost humility share the story of their hereditary practices.

More than looking at a beautiful cotton or silk cloth, it is the story of the fabric narrated that tugs at your heart and many a times translates into purchase. After all our textiles are living repositories of a rich tradition. And each has its own unique patterns and techniques, motifs and embroidery, history and culture. If you love to hear stories you will also understand why handloom workers should not be belittled and dominated by the powerloom and imports.

Looking at this year’s exhibition, it appears hand block prints on cotton and silk are doing well. Motifs of Buddha’s and Durga’s face, dancing peacock or the mudras of bharatanatyam innovatively embellished are arousing much interest. There is a profusion of kalamkari saris in mellow vegetable colours, the Banarasis in bright colours, Bhagalpur’s exquisitely woven matka silk fabric, Rajasthan’s Kota or Bengal’s Kantha stitch. Several traditional motifs and formats have got an abstract touch as well and from saris and unstitched fabric have been modelled into kurta-pyajamas, kurtis-and salwar sets, dupattas and stoles, shawls and scarves, skirts and top.

The fortnight-long exhibition organised by the “Awadh Hathakarga, Hastshilp Evam Gramodyag Samiti” throws open to the locals a vast spectrum of rare saris such as the Uppadas, Mangalagiri, Maheshwari and Sambalpuri ikkat. In fascinating combination of colours and tweaked with wide golden or silver borders, each of these pieces show off an enhanced elegance.

The cotton expo is also a good place for learning about the different types of weaves and prints the different regions of our country boasts of. The objective is to promote the artisans and the weavers and popularise their hand-woven and authentic work.

There is something for all age-groups. From summer-friendly fabrics to Khadiwear, rainbow-hued handmade glass and lacquer bangles, the low maintenance cotton floor rugs of all sizes to wooden toys, jutis and the airy light saris designed for workplace being non-starch, non-iron variant are attracting buyers.

Many of the weaves displayed here have also made it to the international arena and had overseas buyers. Therefore, the exhibition is worth a visit to know about the diversity of handlooms that are an integral part of our lifestyle. From a price range of Rs.100 to Rs.10,000, there will always be something big or small to pick up from the collection also filled with ari needlework and crochet on fabrics, handbags to metal and wood bracelets and other oxidised and terracotta jewellery. Cotton and silk apart, the skilful handiwork of the weavers are also available on georgette, crepe, tussar and chiffon.

With 130 stalls, enough parking space and attractive discounts offered by the weavers, there is no reason why with a week to go you should not make at least one visit. Open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. till December 14. Entry and parking free

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