In pursuit of craftsmanship

Textile tradition

The intricate Chinese motifs are a quintessential part of traditional Parsi ‘gara’ sari. Their history dates back to 19th century when Parsi traders started trading in opium and yarn with China.

It was then the fascination of this wealthy community grew towards traditional Chinese embroidery and traders facilitated the exchange. But the Chinese upheavals of the 20th century lead to the decline in the trade which invariably affected the craftsmanship of this intricate tradition. However, revivalists like Raymond Manickshaw are torchbearers of this dying art in the 21st century, which is a cultural symbol of the Parsi community.

“Once upon a time I had 40 karigars with me, but now I just have 15. This truly is a dying form because no new karigars are entering the profession,” Manickshaw tells Metrolife.
The Mumbai-based designer has used Chinese motifs like birds of paradise, love birds and chrysanthrmums for a collection he would be showcasing in the capital along with an array of eclectic designers who are championing the cause of textile revival and preservation.

The exhibition of textiles ‘Nayaab’ will also feature pieces from prominent designers like Abdul Jabbar Khatri, Aneeth Arora of Pero, Sanjay Garg of Raw Mango, Gaurang Shah, Swati Kalsi and many others who have been closely working with weavers to produce
handcrafted garments.

The whole idea for the curators, Rupa Sood and Sharan Apparao, was to showcase trends in textiles, move the craft beyond fashion to the space of art and authorship. “The endeavour to move away from the watered down textile crafts and showcase the more difficult laborious, old ,complicated traditional skills being produced by revivalists who are dedicated to the pursuit of these exceptional skills,” says the conceptual note.

Delhi-based textile and fashion designer Swati Kalsi has been working with sujani artisans for quite some time. Sujani is a form of embroidery that originates from Bihar’s Bhusura village. “Surface created in sujani out of simple-running stitches moving in transient intensities sizes and colours suggests natural processes and also reflect the spirit of the creator. This conspicuous character of sujani enticed me to explore textured surfaces using this traditional hand craft,” she says.

For the exhibition she has explored the concept of mathematics from a social point of view and gender gap between men and women through unisexual garments.

Shah’s has highlighted laborious and ancient Jamdani weaving method. For diverse texture, feel and fall, he has played with unusual fusion of different natural yarns. The embroideries in the panel are from different regions, with intricate and elaborate
hand work.

Designers have also employed popular textile dying techniques like shibori and bandhani to highlight various techniques in garments, stoles, shawls and home furnishings.

Manickshaw says he makes around 15-20 saris in a year and as he is bringing them to the capital for the exhibit, he hasn’t sold them to regular buyers. “It is an intricate work of craftsmanship. The embroidery on the both side has to look similar,” he says, adding a sari costs anything between Rs 2 lakh to 10 lakh depending on the workmanship.
Nayaab will be on at the Lodhi Hotel till December 13.

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