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Exotic weaves of India : Weaver Story

  • 6 min read

India, a land known for its lush textiles, celebrated weaves and quintessential embroideries, tells us a tale of its ancient era, a tale of rich civilizations, a tale of folklores and a tale of unparalleled art. Weaving has been a constant artisanship that has been transmitting from generations to generations since time immemorial. Whether it is the modest Khadi (a social fabric) or the beauty of chikankari, or the smooth silk or the brocade, or the cotton, India is a force to reckon. India exhibits an array of heritage techniques like Bandhani, Patola Sarees and Kalamkari to name a few, thus adding to its splurging textile market with worldwide buyers.

Today, the fashion designers are truly making conscious efforts to adapt the ancient wisdom of weaving and offering authentic crown-pieces to the world at large.  In fact, there are a few exotic weaves of India that have been considered the finest work of prehistoric art that our older generations could gift us. These weaves are an exemplary testimony to the art and to the weavers who have put their sentiments in every step of the way -

1. JAMDANI 

A hand woven loom, Jamdani is a tender and subtle fabric largely formed of cotton and was also termed as muslin in the primitive era. It has noteworthy floral and angular motifs beautifully woven through a discontinuous weft technique and embroidery to create umpteen designs. This weave looks ethereal in its delicacy. Threads of gold, silver or other shades are used to create patterns, most famous being the paisley, duria, bootidar, tersa and panna hajar. Weaving of Jamdani is very labour intensive as it requires time and precision to create exclusive fabrics, sarees, lehengas and stoles.

Originated from Dhaka (undivided Bengal region and now in Bangladesh) during the Mughal era, and originally known as ‘Dhakai’, Jamdani was adored by the Mughals who introduced them to Bengal. Also, numerous archival data and folklores,  suggested that Jamdani was be dated back to the first century. However, the world knew about this wonder mainly during the reign of Akbar and Jahangir in 15th and 16th century respectively. The base of Jamdani was muslin (most fine cloth ever created) and plentiful designs were created for patrons such as Nur Jahan and other queens. The flowered muslin became the Jamdani and was seen a lot until the early 19th century. Later, due to the destruction by erstwhile East India company of the Indian textile industry, the villages that once exulted the making of Jamdani were destroyed and this led to a stark decline in the availability of this weave. This gap was spotted by the talented designers of today and they recreated this weave with new characteristics keeping its history immortal.

 

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An initiative of goodness, rooted in tradition, this ancient wisdom of art has a very special room in the hearts of our skilled artisans and Weaver Story has been successful in resurrecting this. We have played around with the patterns, compositions and inspired the artisans to realise the true potential of the looms, thus creating  numerous reinterpreted designs of jaal, buti and cutwork in shades and hues of today.

Weaver Story proudly offers these gems of the past, for you to indulge.

 2. IKAT

The term ‘Ikat’ comes from the origin of Malay-Indonesian word for ‘tie’ and was introduced first to the Europeans during the early twentieth centuries and other parts of the world. This artistry flourished as a spectator of worldwide trading practices and had traversed through some notable trading routes. However, it is said that, in India sometime in the 7th century, murals wearing Ikat patterned garments were seen in the caves of Ajanta and Ellora. Ikat is a thread itself that is dyed through natural or synthetic colors depending on its usage. And through this beautiful Ikat thread, Ikat fabrics were weaved, that had a profound character and came in appealing color tones. Today, we see voluminous designs of this fabric in the length and breadth of India in apparel, home furnishing and accessory categories.

The cultural fabric of India is an Ikat fabric as it has so much diversity in every 500 kms we travel within India. Every weave tells us a fable of rich craftsmanship and sentiments of the culture. The primary designs seen on Ikat are abstract, geometrical and floral. The abstract motifs can come from any kind of inspiration that the weavers or the designers get, geometrical patterns are stripes, chevrons, diamonds to name a few and florals patterns cover the entire flora and fauna.

The process of making the Ikat fabric is extremely unique and earthed in Indian tradition. Tie and dye techniques are employed before the actual weaving starts. And this process is repeated many times in order to form a lot of colors and a symphony of patterns. Single and double Ikat are mainly produced. The single Ikat process is where either the warp or weft carries the colored patterns and other one is a single color. ‘Double Ikat’ uses a convoluted technique where both the warp and weft are dyed before weaving them. The master weavers who create Ikat, are extremely adept and this process takes a few months to make one end-piece. 

 

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The most exotic designs of Ikat are seen in Orissa (Sambalpuri Ikat - mainly curly and circular designs), Gujrat (Patola or the Patan Patola - mainly floral and geometrics patterns) and Andhra Pradesh (Pochampally Ikat - mainly intricate and symmetric designs).

At Weaver Story, we deeply care about the ancient weaving methods and heritage Indian art. We strive to preserve and advocate it. Checkout our vibrant collection of Patolas and get mesmerized  - https://weaverstory.com/collections/patola-sarees-from-gujarat

3. TANCHOI -

Banarasi sarees are India famous for its luster and keep. They come in abundant weaves and patterns so much so that we forget the world while exploring them. Banarasi Tanchoi is one of a few exotic weaves of proud India that exudes opulence and illume in every inch of it. Each piece is poetry, a story to unravel. Weaver Story produces ethereal creations of Sarees and Lehengas with detailed Tanchoi artwork. They feature gorgeous motifs and pretty colors, blended evenly -

https://weaverstory.com/pages/search-results-page?q=tanchoi%20saree

Tanchoi and the holy city of Varanasi (Banaras) are closely bonded and their lineage dates back to China. From there, the Parsi traders introduced this silk to India during the 18th century. It is believed that, three weaver brothers from Surat were sent to China by a Parsi merchant to learn this art of silk weaving. And, when they returned they coined the term ‘Tanchoi’. ‘Tan’ means three and ‘Choi ‘ is a name adaptation of their Chinese teacher’s name . Sadly, during the early 20th century, much lighter fabrics like Georgettes and chiffons started to emerge and became a threat to silk. But, as they say history repeats itself, the silk started to see the light of the day and many such fabrics started to get revived through Banarasi weavers and designers. Tanchoi was resurrected and became a hit yet again.

 

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Today, the women are in awe of this weave.  It’s making involves single or double warp and two - five colors on the weft, hence making it a complex process. Banarasi Tanchoi comes in a lot of extremely popular varieties such as Satin Tanchoi (luminous appearance), Satin Jari Tanchoi (amalgamation of gold and silver threads), Mushabbar (gives a vibe of a dense forest and its greenery), Atlas or Gilt (heavy in weight and is pure satin full of zari work) and Jamavar (elaborate motifs with heavier silk and weaves). These sarees are highly coveted by the Indian women.  And the icing on the cake is that our current PM Narendra Modi, gifted a Tanchoi stole to Queen Elizabeth II in the year 2015 in the UK. This explains the fondness of Tanchoi’s rich ingrained heritage and grace.

4. CHANDERI

The captivating charm of Chanderi, it’s lucent appearance, and feather light mass, Weaver Story is awestruck with this weave. We have seriously indulged in this design and handcrafted a lot of pleasing outfits. We love the artisanal craft that is meticulously depicted in the fabrics. Chanderi Sarees , while depicting our chronicles, are a delight to wear.

The glorious Mughal reign introduced Chanderi to the world.  Apparently,  this cloth was sent to Emperor Akbar and he was surprised to see its quality . Due to this, ‘karkhanas’ were established to weave Chanderi which later got shut down.   Also, a town named Chanderi in Madhya Pradesh seem to have adopted this weaving culture of the yore years and continued its legacy. This town was primarily a weavers town where more than half of the population weaved Chanderi.  It is also believed that this fabric was introduced by Lord Krishna’s cousin Shishupal during the Vedic Period. This stretch of cloth was considered royalty when worn.

 

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Chanderi weaves are made using cotton, silk and zari, intricately intertwined so as to give a graceful gleam of shine. Surreal motifs in floral and abstract shapes are created in a myriad of colors. They are sometimes coated or bordered with gold or silver colors in order to accentuate the appearance of the sarees. Even Salwar kameez and lehengas come out very well in Chanderi.

Weaver Story has designed charming pieces using Chanderi for you to adorn on your special occasions - https://weaverstory.com/collections/handwoven-chanderi-sarees

We sincerely pay homage to all the artisans, weavers and  to our heritage that has been passed onto us and has deeply resonated with us. Weaver Story continuously strives to revive historical art and culture of our beloved nation.