WEAVING a legacy

Amrita Prasad
Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Vastrabharana 2018, an initiative that aims to promote weavers and artisans throughout the country, will be held in Mumbai, 
from May 25 to 27

The charm of Indian weaves is timeless and unique. No matter how many brands you’ve worn or own, a simple khadi or a jamdani never fails to attract you, and the outfits always look elegant and classy. To promote Indian weaves, Crafts Council of Karnataka is bringing Vastrabharana 2018 to Mumbai. Conceptualised by Vimala Rangachar, former chairperson of the Crafts Council of Karnataka, Vastrabharana was started to promote weavers and artisans throughout the country, showcase handcrafted handloom textiles, handcrafted embellishments, sarees and handcrafted jewellery from all over the country.

Currently in its silver jubilee year, Vastrabharana is coming back to Mumbai for the second time. At the event starting from Friday, 34 master craftsmen from various regions will showcase their specialities.

FROM THE LAND OF KARNATAKA 
Ravi Kumar, who owns Metaphor Racha, says that his brand celebrates the spirit of khadi while empowering women weavers from rural Karnataka. Metaphor Racha attempts to offer a touch of freshness to the collection, keeping in mind all aspects of functionality, catering to the ‘conscious consumer’ who is aware of the impact of her/his purchasing decision on the environment and consumer health. “We not only weave khadi locally, but also grow cotton locally in the fields of Karnataka, for these farmers. Then it is woven by our rural women weavers. However, the products are printed in Bengaluru. We haven’t really changed the design of our weaves to suit the tastes of urban crowd, but instead let the women weavers decide what the sarees should look like — they decide the colour of the pallu, the embroidery, the pattern etc. I give this decision-making authority to them. They plan, decide and are responsible for the decisions they make as designers,” says Kumar.

He says that over the years, he has done extensive research on the tastes, demands and preferences of the urban population and as a social entrepreneur, he aims to give khadi a utilitarian spin without changing its aesthetics. “When we think of khadi or any other Indian weave, we stick to only apparels. Utility and decor products are a great way to infuse life into khadi and handloom. Apart from sarees, blouses, stoles and dupattas, we also make a lot of products like table runners, coasters, and other items. The idea is to imbibe and embrace khadi in all forms,” urges Kumar.

This year, Metaphor Racha will also be introducing Kasuti, a traditional embroidery of Karnataka at the exhibition. Kumar who believes that people must not buy khadi for the sake of it and should never buy more than what they require or can wear, says, “What’s the point in buying and keeping them in your closet, if you don’t wear them regularly? There should be active engagement between the craft and the buyers. They must take an interest in knowing the handloom, its aesthetics and design,” argues Kumar.

NOTHING LIKE THE CHIKANKARI 
Malavika Chatterjee, who owns the Malavika label, specialises in chikankari. It is also going to be a part of Vastrabharana. Chatterjee will showcase a range of delicate chikankari and kaamdani (zardozi art) and is known to promote daraz craftsmanship on handwoven Chanderi, Maheshwari, and tussar.

The brand Malavika is a recipient of the UNESCO Seal of Excellence Award and the World Craft Council Award for chikankari. Chatterjee, who has been working with women karigars from rural parts of Lucknow, says, “To keep an art form alive, we have to continuously evolve. Keeping in mind the choice of urban crowd, we are showcasing sarees, blouses, kurtas, dupattas and stoles at the exhibition. We have to create a big market and generate sales to be able to empower the artisans and the embroidery. Rural wear is completely different from what women wear in cities, hence the change in design.”
When asked what makes chikankari so appealing, she says that these are unique and intricate embroideries with optimum functionality. Malavika is displayed at The Tree of Life exhibition, organised by the World Crafts Council, currently on in Taiwan, after Hawaii and Vancouver. Chatterjee, who is currently working with 200 women weavers, says, “Among embroideries, chikankari holds a special place. With its 41 different style of stitches, its beauty remains timeless and unparalleled even today. It is versatile and can be worn at weddings, social gatherings and can seamlessly become a workwear,” she advises.

ST READER SERVICE
Vastrabharana 2018 — an initiative by The Craft Council of Karnataka will be exhibited at Coomaraswamy Hall, Colaba, Mumbai from May 25-27 between 10.30 am and 7 pm

Artisans, labels and weaves at Vastrabharana 2018:
Marm — specialises in Chanderi handwoven fabrics.
Sufiyan Khatri who has revived old Fostart design and designs of the coromandel coast along with adding new colours to it.
Nuppur’s, a brand where Moushumi and Nupur, mother-daughter duo, use Madhubani art form of paintings in their apparels.

Vraj:bhoomi aims to create a contemporary Indian way of living, rooted in traditions yet global in its charm. The primary focus of Vraj:bhoomi is to revive the age-old regional art of Ajrakh.
Ssaha Works is a grassroots creative laboratory which endeavours to document and promote the vast vocabulary of traditional knowledge and specialises in different kinds of jamdani.

Manas Gorai through his brand Manas creates innovative handmade sarees and jewellery fused with varied inspirations from life.

Translate focusses on reviving the traditional art of Ikat through weaving, designing, and retailing.

Tina Eapen’s collection of block printed and hand embroidered sarees in muls, chanderis and linens is just what you need for the season.

Kale Nele meaning ‘a shelter for art and craft’ in Kannada, has been embracing the lost and neglected arts of Northern Karnataka for close to five years through the revival of fabric of Khunn and the art of Kasuti.

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