Updated: Jul 2, 2018
India is home for some of the finest hand woven fabrics, and Silk Weaving is practiced all over the country. From Banaras silk to Kanchipuram silk, every region has its own story, a unique design language, and a rich history behind it. The nine yards woven by the master craftsman are like a canvas for the artist where beautiful stories are expressed. One such weave is from Bangalore, a lesser known place, Anekal.
My trip to Anekal started on a hot sunny day in the month of March, a town around 32 kms from Bangalore center. The drive from Whitefield to Weavers colony was exactly how I imagined – with traffic jams, but the sight of cherry blossoms were a visual treat that can make any journey worthwhile.
An hour and a half and I reached my destination Anekal - the town known for its beautiful handwoven textiles where hundreds of houses used to weave beautiful stories but today just a few of them are left to thread their words.
As soon as you enter the colony, it looks like one deserted place, but a few steps further and you can hear the loud thumps of shuttle looms coming from one co-operative society where 14-15 weavers work at one time in a big room. The atmosphere of the place, the calmness of the town, beautiful colored houses, and sound of the pit looms echoing, just takes your breath away.
“To care about weaving, to make weaving, is to be in touch with a long human tradition.”― Phylis Morrison
I couldn't agree more with the above quote, weaving is one of the oldest traditions and important part of our culture and history.
What do you do when you enter a place and is overwhelmed by the amount of beauty you see around. You run from one loom to another to see as much as you can, to click as many pictures as you can and still it will never be enough. At least not for me.
Weavers spinning, warping, weaving and even some old ones discussing their life matters, is a beautiful and rare experience for me. The sound of almost 15 looms together is so powerful and insane at the same time, it's hard to focus at first but eventually you are completely taken over by the craftsmanship.
Anekal saris are light and vibrant in colors with intricate Pallu designs and motifs in Zari.
Not being a local person, and knowing the common language, it was difficult for me to understand them at first, but art does not need any language, the work they do, the life they live, explains it all. A few moments spent with them and one can easily get the glimpse of their life - simple, pure and so beautiful.
Powerloom Silk weaving - Anekal
But somewhere it made me also sad to see the craft dying because of the power loom taking over. It's surprising to see a town with both hand loom and power loom machines weaving similar designs, side by side. Many of the weavers have started working in power loom factory, leaving behind the generations of hand woven traditions.
From dyeing to spinning to weaving silk yarn into sari, the whole process was so mesmerizing, that I spent hours just watching the shuttle move and the motifs appearing just like magic. The threads got tangled, broke, and were tied again, the golden the brights and the silver threads, they just kept moving back and forth, and the weaver never stopped. Bright colors, meticulously created motifs and the amount of time spent to create a single sari makes these saris exquisite and now that I know what goes into making it, I feel so proud to own one of these beautiful saris.
Intricate border and pallu designs are woven with beautiful motifs. Some traditional motifs like Paan, mango buti, sunflower, peacock, parrot are delicately handwoven which sets these masterpieces class apart.
“The sari's radiance, vigor and variety, produced by a single straight length of cloth, should give us in the West pause and make us think twice about the zipper, the dart and the shoulder pad". ― Naveen Patnaik
Anekal saris are known for their use of vibrant colors red, green, turquoise, navy blue, fuchsia, magenta and the evergreen white with golden zari.
KNOW YOUR SARI
Yarn Dyeing for hand loom production- yarn is colored /dyed in the hank form. The silk yarn dyed in the richest and brightest of colors woven with zari.
Pre-loom activities like dyeing, punch card making is most times outsourced.
Warping - converts the hank yarn into a linear form to give the length on the loom. Warping is done on a huge drum and the width and desired quality of the product is decided at this stage.
Some of the saris are made from pure Zari, while others use that is regionally sourced.
Hand Spinning- making bobbins (Charkha)
Sizing - After warping is done, the warp is stretched out and sizing material is applied to add strength to the yarn and lubricate it to withstand the rigors of weaving.
The Pit loom is placed on the floor with a pit having two peddles set in the pit for the weaver to operate.
The shuttle is a wooden instrument, which is used to carry the weft yarn for weaving the fabric.
Weaving is interlacing two sets of threads at right angles to other: the warp which runs longitudinally and the weft that crosses it. Weaving is carried out by the master craftsman. Time taken to weave one sari is 3-4 days depending on the design.
Once the sari is complete it is folded in a traditional manner and collected at the KHDC office and from there sold in the market. The price range can vary between 2000-15,000 depending on the work and material.
Don't you feel like buying one of these for your own ??
LIFE IN ANEKAL
Limited resources, simple lifestyle and a wealth of weaving knowledge.
A picture of everyday life in Anekal
Ragimudde – a local dish made of Ragi normally served with curry- Shocked to see a full plate in 10 Rs, was almost tempted to eat it on a full stomach.
Photo Credits: Swati Gupta, Meenal Prakash and Catherine Raphael