Final October, singer and voice artiste Chinmayi Sripada shared a video on Telangana’s Gollabhama saris, that are recognized for his or her intricate weaves and on a regular basis motifs — of milkmaids (gollabomma) carrying pots on their heads or enjoying kolaatam. The 11-minute YouTube brief, which has since racked up over 49,500 views, explored a weaving cluster in Siddipet, one of many locations the place the “Telangana government has been pushing the cause of handloom”. “Lower than 90 km from Hyderabad, it was like coming into a time capsule [ladies at charkhas, males on looms, and silks and cottons in multi-hued piles],” she says. “Next, I’m planning a tour of weaving clusters in Vizag and western Tamil Nadu.”
Social media is peppered with comparable movies and images, as increasingly more individuals interact with the county’s rising handloom dialog. There’s not solely a requirement to purchase the merchandise, but additionally to listen to its story, see its place of birth, and meet the individuals who create it. Catering to this burgeoning market now are a slew of textile walks. As soon as undertaken by design college students who needed hands-on expertise, big-ticket designers seeking to supply materials, or households out marriage ceremony buying, immediately these have advanced into curated weaving holidays for the conscious. And the South, with its wealthy historical past of handloom, which adjustments each 100 kilometres, presents a wealthy, intricate map.
Down nation roads
“[Weaving] clusters are small villages in the interiors. They are green and serene, and on a walk, all you hear is the sound of the shuttles from pit looms,” shares Sashikant Naidu. The Hyderabad-based designer, who works extensively with weavers, says he started his profession due to such walks. “I went off on my own and discovered talented clusters about 10 years ago, in Ilavaram, Peteru, Rajolu and Bhattiprolu of Guntur district [in Andhra Pradesh], well-known for the thickly-woven, seven-yard Guntur saris, in the counts of 60s and 80s.”
At this time, such ‘discoveries’ can be found on demand. From day journeys to brief packages, the excursions, led by lovers of handloom — assume Co-optex or textile researchers like Chennai-based Sreemathy Mohan — discover the ethos of weaving, wanting on the craft along with the native tradition, meals and sources of inspiration, similar to structure. For instance, a visit to Kanchipuram would additionally function temple excursions (to attract a parallel between the mankolam motif and the sacred mango tree on the Ekambaranathar temple or the lions that stride down sari borders and alongside the partitions of the Vaikunta Perumal temple) and a meals path to see Kanchipuram idlis steaming in brass vessels.
“Immersion” is the one technique to do it, says designer Sanjay Garg, of Uncooked Mango. “While studying at NIFT Delhi, I remember visiting a textile cluster in Paithan, where we explored the anthropology of weaving. Everything from the food, the drapes, to the rituals were connected to the weaving in some way. It left a big impression on me, reminding me that everything is connected,” he says, including that he’d like to copy this in Kanchipuram quickly.
The flip facet
- With the nice comes the unhealthy, and generally walks can do hurt, with designs stolen and weavers poached. “Occasionally, when we bring textile enthusiasts, they promise the weavers a lot but never deliver. It is disappointing at many levels, and it takes time to rebuild the trust,” says Deepa Anish, of Thiruvananthapuram-based retailer Karalkada, which is thought for its kasavu saris. “Different instances, we discover that designs we’ve labored on for months in unique zari, find yourself being recreated in duplicate zari elsewhere. It is very important know weaving traditions, however it’s as necessary to guard creative inputs.”
A numbers sport
One of many challenges (to reconnect with our weaving custom) is the dwindling variety of clusters. Deborah Thiagarajan, founding father of DakshinaChitra, the dwelling historical past museum, remembers placing collectively a path wherein designer Ritu Kumar additionally took half. “It was a research trip, and we drew up an itinerary that began in Madras and included Kanchipuram, Kalahasti, Salem, Rasipuram, Karur, Bhavani and Erode. It was a vibrant scene two decades ago,” she says. “But if I wanted to do one now, I’d probably find more powerlooms than handlooms.” Recalling a latest journey to Dharwad and Belgaum in Karnataka, she laments that there weren’t many looms remaining, and the one individuals carrying the normal ilkal saris have been the aged ladies within the bazaar.
One other space of concern: a unidimensional mannequin. “It is very important for such tours to be done sensitively,” says Ahalya S, founding father of Chennai’s Kanakavalli retailer, which works with Kanchipuram weavers, nurturing and reviving outdated traditions and motifs. “It should not just be about how ‘beautiful’ things are, but also about understanding the nuances of the weavers’ lives, how government policy affects the second largest occupation in the country, etc.”
We communicate with designers and textile warriors who’ve gone on these journeys, and people who organise them, that can assist you perceive why it is advisable to give weaving holidays a strive.
Ritu Kumar, designer
The design maven, famend for her use of handloom and work with weavers, nonetheless remembers a 10-day textile path she did with Deborah Thiagarajan, to Chirala and Machilipatnam. “I keep in mind waking up earlier than daybreak and watching the printers roll out materials soaked in myrobalan liquid and draping it over rice roots to dry — the beginning of kalamkari’s three-week printing, portray and dyeing course of, and one of the crucial recognised printing colleges from India. The lengthy strategy of Machilipatnam kalamkari was an eye fixed opener, and made us admire the genius of that space and its management over vegetable dyeing,” she reminisces. Kumar additionally did a visit to Chidambaram two years in the past, as analysis for a guide she is engaged on. “What we have in India is rare. Nowhere else in the world do you have a connect to the garment you’re wearing, like we do here. So, go on a textile trip. See its roots, where it comes from, who makes it. This should be nurtured.”
Vijayalakshmi Malani Nachiar, Ethicus
The co-founder of the Pollachi-based natural cotton model was drawn to textile trails after she did one in Bengal (2016) and Kutch (2017). “It is the only way to know how weavers live. You discover the issues plaguing them, and work to address them,” she says. At this time, she organises customised outings at her weaving centre. “We just had a group of children come in from a nearby school. This was the youngest batch we’ve hosted, so we kept things really basic. They touched the cotton, learnt its texture, and even sang a handloom song,” she says. “Design students and textile enthusiasts, however, get a more in-depth one, with details of the warp and weft, the organic farming process, the cleaning and spinning of cotton, along with a short trip to the village to see where it all begins.” Amongst those that’ve been a part of the path is New York-based dressmaker Donna Karan. “She spent a day with us, and was very keen to know about organic agriculture and how our fabric was made.” ₹2,000 per day, together with lunch. Particulars: ethicus.in.
Sreemathy Mohan, textile researcher
Final yr, Mohan did a 12-week discipline work challenge for DakshinaChitra, Revisiting Actual Madras Handkerchief. As a part of it, she visited the artisans in Chirala to know their points first-hand. This ‘need to know’, she says, is important if you plan a stroll. “I’ve thus far led two journeys [of 10 people each] to Kanchipuram, and several other particular person ones. Each time, I embrace a weaving part. I additionally make it a degree to go to a number of the temples close by, as a result of that offers individuals an thought in regards to the motifs [from gopurams to the kodi visiri (creeper)]. As an illustration, a visit to Thirubuvanam will make it easier to perceive the practise of kattichaayam, the place they dye the sari in a different way, after tying parts of it. “While you go on these holidays, you get to satisfy the individuals who weave your clothes, and see how, in simply three rooms, they create such a wealthy tapestry on material, whereas main a hand-to-mouth existence. Regardless of this, they’re so beneficiant [offering food and drink],” says Mohan, including that she ties up with tour companions who perceive the wants of one thing similar to this. “If the group is deeply captivated with textiles, I additionally take them to the state-run zari making unit in Orikkai, close to Kanchipuram.” Roughly ₹2,000 for a day journey, together with lunch. Particulars: fb.com/textiletrails.
TN Venkatesh, Co-optex
The Tamil Nadu Handloom Weavers’ Cooperative Society is on a revival and innovation path, and textile trails are an integral a part of this. “Whenever there is a group of 10-12 interested people, we organise a two-three day tour of weaving clusters,” says the managing director. “We’ve accomplished a number of journeys (Salem-Rasipuram-Vanavasi or Puttapaka-Pochampally-Koyyelagudem, house to Andhra’s single and double ikats) the place we’ve launched weaving, sungudi-knotting and Athangudi tile making. If Kanchipuram is the popular place for silk, we take them to Kumbakonam and Thirubuvanam for cottons. Trails are such a good way to study what you put on. Regardless of my background in textiles, there’s a lot information gathering. For instance, the commonality in utilization of motifs and patterns, like how Kanchipuram and Bishnupur use comparable representations of the fish and horse. You rediscover cultural similarity as you discover.” Co-optex organises such excursions on request, “since that is not our chief mandate”. ₹2,500 to ₹3,000 a day, inclusive of transportation and meals. Particulars: email@example.com.
Sreejith Jeevan, Rouka
Because the 2018 floods decimated weaving clusters in Kerala, Jeevan has been working intently with these in Chendamangalam. “In Kerala, the fabric is simple, but what goes into it is complex. A lot of people are keen to see the origin and process after seeing our materials. So, I take them to the clusters from where I source; they look around, observe, and buy from the weavers,” says the designer, who simply launched a line of saris and separates that reinterpret Kerala’s kasavu sari, woven by the ladies of the Society: 648 cluster. “These journeys are eye-openers. Many imagine that weaving is in regards to the loom; they don’t know the pre-weaving processes — the washing and starching, the place individuals work between Four am and seven am. Not many know that one mundu comes into being after six individuals have labored on it. Even in a documentary, you don’t get to see weavers for the dwelling, respiration individuals they’re.”
Jeevan additionally goes on excursions himself, which he says are classes for all times. “Once in Thirubuvanam, I showed some weavers a few of my mother’s saris that I had with me and asked if they would weave something similar. They laid them out and told me how each was unique to a region; they even named the cluster area. Till then, I’d never considered the signature of a cluster.”
Ramesh Menon, Save the Loom
Combining trend, artwork, craft and textiles, Menon’s STL Excursions (underneath the umbrella of Save the Loom, the non-profit that had rallied to weavers’ assist in the aftermath of final yr’s Kerala floods) brings in a mixture of enjoyable and schooling. “Such holidays have an impact,” he stresses. “Weaving tourism not only brings sensitivity to an urban population — about the craft, its people and where it originates — but also supports the village economy.” Menon organises two holidays in the meanwhile. The primary is curated round Kerala’s 5 predominant centres: Balaramapuram (wealthy silks and kasavu), Chendamangalam (advantageous cottons), Kuthampully (with a Tamil affect, seen in its brilliant colors and motifs, like checks), Kasargod (a Mysuru custom introduced down by the Saliyar group) and Kannur (export-quality linens). The second is to Kanchipuram, with visits to the looms of national-award winners, and a detour to Puducherry. “There is always a cultural context to what is getting woven,” he says, including how a latest five-day journey with 30 college students from Pearl College included a village tour, masterclasses with artisans, and a day every in Fort Kochi, Chendamangalam (weaving clusters) and Munnar (Aranya Pure dyeing unit). When doable, individuals additionally be part of the weavers for a meal, and for luxurious excursions, keep at sustainable properties from manufacturers like CGH Earth. From ₹25,000 onwards (airport to airport). Particulars: savetheloom.org.
— With inputs from Surya Praphulla Kumar
E-book your tour
Mystical Palmyra: Shanmugapriya Thyagarajan organises holistic excursions that provide a little bit of every part, together with weaving. “We’ve taken people to clusters in Kanchipuram, Madurai, Karaikudi, Tiruchi, Uraiyur and Thirubuvanam. The focus is on seeing the speciality in an area, including music, weaving, food and culture [and how they inform each other],” she says. “For instance, we recently did one to the Avudayar temple [Pudukkotai] with historian Pradeep Chakravarthy, to learn the link between it and local weaving patterns, which incorporates motifs like the Nattiya Kalai Mudra (signs of dance) or the horse.” Roughly ₹15,000 onwards (2D1N). Particulars: mysticalpalmyra.com
Treasured Holidays: Radhika Naware, an unbiased textile researcher from Pune, does frequent textile excursions, focussing in town of Ilkal and the kantha work of Karnataka. “In 2014-2015, I worked on a project with Hands of India, which did a survey of Ilkal. Since then, I’ve been taking groups of people there, to see the processes and techniques, and to teach them how to differentiate between handloom and powerloom fabric,” she says. “It’s normally a combined group of textile fanatics from throughout India and overseas, and common individuals. My path is for 5 days, and we start at Hampi. We additionally go to Aihole to take a look at Banjara embroidery. Roughly ₹4,000 a day. Particulars: fb.com/TreasuredHolidays