Indias textiles both woven and printed that
have dazzled the world have their own fabulous stories to tell.
Stretched along the length and breath of the country each region has
its won characteristic fabric that weaves its history. There are
hundreds of different textiles in India but some of the popular ones
are favourites with everyone.
The brocades of Varanasi
are the most well known of Indian textiles. The brocade or kinkhwab
(fabric of dreams)is the weaving of pure silk and gold strands to
create a lush fabric. Each region ahs its won individual brocade like
the Aashavali, Paithani, Kanjeevaram, Tanchoi, Balucheri and Jamewar.
Creating the jala are the naqsshaband or master craftsment of
Varanasi. From floral patterns to hunting scene patterns, designs
have been adapted to suit contemporary times. A variety of motifs
like creepers, flowers, birds, animals, architectural and human forms
are incorporated in a single design.
Gujarat is generally
considered the home of silk and brocade weaving after Varanasi. Even
during the reign of Akbar, Gujarat was a famous center for weaving
brocades, velvets and silks. The Aashavali from the town of Aashval
is popular for its rich colours in contrast to the simple brocade
border. The Aashivali woven ininlay technique has four to five
coloured silk threads interspersed with jari (gold thread).
Stylized parrots, peacocks, lions and doves appear quite often with
trees and flowers.
From Paithan the town in
Maharashtra comes the regal Paithanai. Many royal households own the
Paithani which could take months to weave. Motifs of parrots and
flowers are very popular and the Paithani is treated as an heirloom
once it is bought.
Tanchoi was brought to
India from China by the three Choi brothers (hence the name) who
settled in Surat to weave the fabric with a different technique-a
combination of Indian and Chinese style. The colours are subtle, the
drape is light and the intricate work with extra floates which are
blended into the fabric gives it an embroidered look based on the
satin weaving style.
One of the most coveted
of Indian fabrics, the double Ikat Patola, originates from various
stateslike Gujarat, Orissa and Pochampalli in Andhra Pradesh. The
double Ikat resist dyed Patola from Orissa and Patan in Gujarat is
very intricate in weave. While the single Ikat from rajkot is more
affordable it is the double Ikat that is regarded as a masterpiece.
Prices can be quite exorbitant because a Patola is valued for its
purity of silk.
From the south comes the
Temple Sari, the Kanjeevaram, from the town of Kanchipram. To own it
is every birdes dream because of its grandeur of weave. The
Kanjeevaram sari was first woven around 400 years ago and since then
this vibrantly coloured sari very often checks in silk yarn or gold
threads, is a favourite. Many of the designs are variations of
vertical and horizontal lines and checks.
From the Deccan comes the
Gadhwal sari which represents a harmonious look of contrast. The sari
originating form the Decan has the influence from the south, north,
east and west of India. A blend of silk and cotton, the borders are
normally in contrasting colours with intricate motifs.
From the colourful state
of Rajasthan comes the Tissue Kotah woven in pure cotton. It is one
of the lightest saris ideal for the warm weather of India.
Bhagalpur, Chanderi and
Maheshwari are fabrics from different states with a beautiful
combination of cotton and silk spun to create an extremely light
fabric. The bhagalpur comes from Bihar, the Chanderi from the south
and Maheshwaris from Madhya Pradesh. The silk yarn in the warp and a
very fine cotton thread in the weft go to make them. The Chanderi
made of super fine silk or Cotton has a light tissue-like appearance
while the Maheshwari made of spun silk and cotton yarn has exquisite
and intricate borders sometimes with a touch of gold.
The Jamewar fabric
inspired by the Jamewar shawl with the paisley as the focus of
attention is the beauteous fabric of Kashmir. Created in wool, cotton
and silk, it has tht timeless beauty that is admired by all. The
weft thread alone forms the pattern and is inserted by means of
wooden spools without the use of a shuttle. It is a time consuming
process which has made the hand woven Jamevar almost extinct.
From the town of Baluchar
in Bengal comes the Baluchari textiles. It was some time in 1704 that
the first Baluchar weaving took place. At one stage no gold or silver
thread was used except the pure mulberry silk in the making of the
fabric. The important feature is the white outlining of ht emotifs
like animals, vegetation and figuarative patterns.
The most prominent of
printing techniques is the Kalamkari from Andhra Pradesh. The world
Kalamkari literally means pen of stylus work which is a combination
of printing and painting. The themes are normally from mythology and
the fabrics were first used im temples and religious places. The
Kalamkari fabric requires patience and skill. But with modern methods
the design is created with wooden blocks and stamped on the cloth.
The Block Print is what
India is famous for. The Sanganer prints of Jaipur, Nandana prints of
Madhya Pradesh and Batiks of Bengal provide a vast almost unlimited
The Bandhani and Leheria
are two tie-and-dye methods whicha re popular in Rajasthan and
Gujarat. For Bandhani the fabric is tied into minute knots to form a
designand then dipped into the dye, the Leheria (waves) pattern is
also achieved with tie-and-dye techniques. Diagonal lines in a single
colour across a white background create a magical effect.
The beauty of India
fabrics is so hypnotizing that the West has been enchanted by it and
ahs never resisted creating garments from them. Indian master
craftsmen are being encouraged to move with the times and attempts
innovations in traditional designs so that the art for weaving Indian
textiles is kept alive.