Warp and weft of India's rich handloom culture

Warp and weft of India's rich handloom culture

Saris are evergreen, but the beautiful weaves are overshadowed by the new ‘cocktail’ designs in contemporary India. Recently, three artists from the textile design industry Rita Kapur Chishti (textile expert and author), Sanjay Garg (designer and founder-Raw Mango) and Gitanjali Shah Mandawa (traditional weave revivalist) got together at the Oxford Bookstore to talk and discuss about the new trends and the revival and promotion of Indian textiles.

The discussion was followed by a live demonstration by Rita Kapur Chishti on unique saree tying techniques.Chishti is popularly known for her book Saris: Tradition and Beyond and her house is buzzing with saree workshops. Sanjay Garg’s Raw Mango transformed the Indian handloom sari scene through its contemporary twist while Gitanjali Shah’s label Sri Tanabana is in keeping with the royal Indian tradition and nurtures handloom saree woven with pure silver and gold threads.

Chishti discussed the life and work of craftsmen which she has also scripted for films and exhibitions. Through the textual explanation of development of handspun, handloom textiles, she disclosed how one can create wonders with unstitched garments. She also discussed how the culture of ‘taanbaan’ offers an exclusive variety of indigenous organic cottons and low twist silks using handspun yarns on the desi, traditional charkha, (spinning wheel) and woven with the finest hand skills on handloom.

Sanjay Garg has contributed to the revival of Chanderi, Benarasi and Mushru weaves which have been at the centre of a renewed interest in traditional weaves. He told the audience how “using traditional techniques, does not usually catch the eye of several fashion editors in India.” Citing examples of the kurta pajama suits, empire waist dresses and heritage saris, he said that “these are unique creations of Indians” and recited the story of handlooms and fabrics’ evolution in the country. His gorgeous saris have been
featured in Vogue, Elle and Verve.

Mandawa with her mother Darshana Kumari and sister Priyanjali Katoch started Sri Tanabana in 2002. She discussed that Tanabana is an effort to revive ancient weaving traditions that are fast disappearing. Through an exclusive range of saris, stoles, borders, jackets, sherwanis and lehengas, Tanabana is a label that concentrates on weaving of pure zari saris and brocades. In all an enriching evening for those with a penchant for traditional weaves and handloom.

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