Devdutt Pattanaik is one of the most celebrated Indian Mythologists & a widely admired author of 41 books, countless columns & articles, that revive one of the most quirky, ancient traditions of our country-Perfected Reinterpretations & Unconventional Story-telling.
India’s Handloom Dyeing Technique has been around since the Indus Valley Civilization!
Mr. Pattanaik’s modern outtakes on the glorious scriptures & epics has created a wave of voguish ways of thinking. Devdutt Pattanaik, an artist-illustrator of his own standing has illustrated almost all of his books with a very distinct take on expressiveness of his characters adorned with traditional motifs, designs, patterns; he is also extravagantly vocal about the relevance of mythology in today’s times especially in the Leadership, Management & Governance matters. A Master of Historical Retelling, Devdutt Pattanaik had immense insights to share about the weaving traditions, relevance & history of Indian Handloom in our recent conversation with him.
It is gracefully dramatic & Devdutt’s eyes glint with reverence, as he breaks into the conversation starting with “India’s handloom industry has a very long history, you see….”. In the ancient Harappan Civilization, it is said & has now been proven that cotton was widely used as the weaving material and indigo was used for fabric dyeing purposes. It almost boggles your mind to think that the material, the technique that we use today has been walking the planet, growing & thriving for almost 5000 years!
The Fabric would be weaved, dyed, next clothing was designed and patterns were stitched as the likes from the captivating Sindhu Design Culture, which would then be exported to older cities of Mesopotamia.Handloom Dyeing was a unique Indian feature even at that time, what wonder-what marvel!
Apart from all the international fame that Indian Handloom techniques & production processes acquired, Indian History itself has a lot to say aboutvastra& the auspicious position that it holds in our culture & traditions. Almost in all wakes of cultural diversity that our country holds, adorningnew clothing for family & friends remains a constant feature in all auspicious setups and events. Since ancient times, handloom garb has been exchanged as gifts- a tradition that continues till date.
Rishi Atre’s wife Anusuya had gifted a miraculous piece of cloth to Sita that never got dusty. In Mahabharata, Draupadi was given the gift of an endless drape by Lord Krishna to save her grace & hold her pride in a courtroom.
There are many stories such as these where cloth is a societal place-holder, identifier & an important aspect of Indian Culture as depicted in these epics & other historical works. One other interesting fact that Devdutt shares his insight upon is the usual weave pattern of the fabric-making process- the tailored placement is usually in a fine-check pattern made up of uniform vertical & horizontal weave - vertical for ‘Man’-‘Purush’- ‘Nirgun’ & horizontal for ‘Nature’- ‘Prakriti’-‘Sagun’. The merge of both brings forth completeness- a virtue of relevance that clothing holds for us as individuals & as a collective culture.
He ends with adding an insight upon reviving this marvellous, meticulous & olden traditions of weaving, embellished by perfection through time and historic pertinence. Drapes of Democracy is an attempt to channel this amazing cultural boon that we have received as a nation and repurpose it into modern creative outtakes, just like Devdutt does with his stories.