Friday, August 20, 2010

Sarees tell the tale at Urban Haat


When we talk about Indian fashion, invariably it's about wearing the traditional evergreen saree and the salwar-kameez. Sarees are an inevitable part in the wardrobe of any Indian bride. The saree has travelled a long way since the ancient times but in recent times we have witnessed the change in the look of the saree.

Sequences, embroidery, patch work etc., are all an eternal part of Indian attire which enhances the beauty of the dress. Embroidery is often regarded as the best form of art which is highly demanded by men and women. Embroidery work is flawless for adding beauty to any dull fabric.

Hence to introduce the tradition of saree, JSS Urban Haat in Hebbal has organised a saree mela which is on till August 22 and is open from 10 am to 9 pm. In all, 40 craftsmen and weavers from various States are taking part in this Mela. SOM had a tête-à-tête with some craftsmen at the Mela. Excerpts:

West Bengal is known for its colourful and vibrant culture. Artisan Chandana Aich from this city is showcasing her Batik and Kantha Stitch. Batik means 'wax writing', an art of decorating cloth using molten wax. This work is believed to have originated during the 12th century.

To create a design, we use a wooden stick fashioned into a pen with cotton thread wound around it. The hot wax is applied on this 'pen' and the designs are drawn on the cloth. Then, the design is separated according to the colours to be used for the dyes. Colouring usually starts with the white sections and progresses to the darker shades. Later on, the cloth is dipped in boiling water to remove the wax. The areas covered in wax retain their original colour and the pattern is made by the plain and dyed parts. Vegetable dyes are used for colouring.

The batik craft gives more prominence to figures of humans and animals than other traditional art forms where flowers, landscapes and such take top place.
Another interesting fact is that both sides of the cloth look the same. There is no right or wrong side because the hot wax seeps into the other side of the cloth as well, making both sides look identical.

About Kantha stitch

Kantha is a type of embroidery popular in West Bengal which is practised by rural women. The traditional form of Kantha embroidery was done with soft dhotis and saris, with a simple running stitch along the edges. The entire cloth is covered with running stitches, employing beautiful motifs of flowers, animals, birds and geometrical shapes, as well as themes from everyday activities. Originally it was used to join layers of old saris, to make quilts. The existence of Kantha dates back to early 1800s, embroidered with blue, black and red threads that were unraveled from saree borders.

Tussar Silk

Artisans Kalim Ansori and Md. Wali Ahmad are displaying Tussar Silk, Matka Silk, Noil Raw Silk etc. Speaking to SOM about Tussar Silk they narrated thus:
Tussar silk is also known as Kosa silk, produced mainly in Jharkhand. Tussar is valued for its texture and natural gold colour, which is unusually rich and deep.
Tussar is a type of wild silk obtained from silk worms that are not bred on mulberry trees but whose cocoons are collected from the local trees like Sal, Arjun and Saja. It is less expensive than cultivated silk and not as durable. Some Tussar silk today made is called non-violent silk, or Ahimsa Silk, which is extracted from the cocoon after the silkworm larva has left it.
Chikan work
The chikan work of Lucknow is one of the most popular embroidery works in India. It has a certain grace and elegance and never goes out of style. The word chikan literally means embroidery. It is said to have been originally introduced by Nur Jahan, the beautiful wife of the Mughal emperor Jahangir. It has since evolved and attained its glory and perfection in Lucknow, says artisan Sanjay from Lucknow.
The designs depend on its effect on the variety of stitches used and different grades of threads used to form the patterns which include the lace like jali, the op-aque fillings and the delicacy or boldness of outline and details.
A variation of the chikan work is the bakhia or shadow work. Here the work is done from the back, the stitches completely covering the design in herringbone style. The shadow of the thread is seen through the cloth on the right side.

Kundan work

Kundan work by artisan Mahfooz Alam is a method of gem setting, consisting of inserting gold foil between the stones and its mount. This task requires a great deal of dedication as it has intricate work to be done with great precision. The Kundan work consists of precious gems like diamonds, rubies and emeralds. The various designs done in the Kundan work sarees are a sure shot eye-catcher.
The speciality of the Kundan work sarees is that the precious gems give it an even more beautiful look, making the saree glitter and add glamour to one's beauty. It is learnt, Kundan works are a favourite of Mughals.

Apart from this, there are a wide range of collections from Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Delhi, Jammu-Kashmir and many other places. This beautiful hand-crafted works created by the artisans have a low environmental impact and are produced in a community-friendly way.

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