The young mind’s need to go beyond traditions is fed by a convenient curiosity. I have spoken to professionals for reasons to why India’s strongest forms of dance, textile and art are fading into history – This is the first of a three part blog.
It would be a shame if your wardrobe doesn’t own a genuine korvai, madhubani or a handloom sari; especially if you’re one who fancies a good drape every once in a while. And if you enjoy fabrics pieced together in innovative cuts, don’t deprive your collection before it’s too late. Take for example Chanderi – the authentic weaves almost fell off Earth’s edge till designers threw it a strong rope. The beginning was Wills India Fashion 2010 when the world saw a first-of its-kind collection made entirely from fierce Chanderi constructions. A foresighted designer used lotus motifs for which this fabric is known. Being true to the nature of this weave, Rahul Mishra induced as little stitching as possible to it. And stirring away from the sari, he created a contemporary collection by stretching its scope for a bigger audience.
It was in 2009 when Mishra had made a trip to Chanderi, Madhya Pradesh’s historic town. His agenda was to revive the place’s woven fabric. Mass-producing cities like Coimbatore had stolen its thunder and were wrongly assumed to be the prime suppliers. Their machined products are but naturally less expensive as compared to those tediously woven by hand. So during that trip when Mishra encountered a weaver, adept in weaving Chanderi, he was surprised to notice his lowly condition. “It was a very small hut where Hukum Koli’s walls were erected from loose stones and the roof was covered in blue barsati (plastic). In spite of these conditions, his father and he possessed amazing workmanship.”
Truth is, artisans like Koli have produced bales of Chanderi for designers in the past. But in most cases, people like him are expected to be exclusive. In such scenarios, with a much-needed steady order in hand, and not enough contact with the industry, they helplessly agreed to meagre rates. It seems the entire village was struggling for recognition, but didn’t have the means or aptitude to market themselves. Their contractual employers paid them a niggardly amount, but sold their creations for much more to match its worth. Objectively, the weavers’ children preferred to stay detached from an art that didn’t help their economic condition. And the involvement of middle-men in this supply chain only added to the chaotic struggle. This is a common disease that eats into such weakening communities.
The trend continues mainly because the geographic identification of crafts is missing.
Accreditation is misplaced. Designers who promise to dedicate their time to their repositioning find themselves caught in a demanding time-frame. But when those long days of elbow-greasing begin to realise remunerations, the village, and even its younger generation see themselves being gainfully employed within the community they once wrote off as despondent waste. So of course giving them true recognition goads them into dreamer bigger for their talents.