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Integrating the threads of culture

Promoters of hand-printed and handwoven textiles in the South Asian region have adapted different techniques to keep pace with changing times to cater to buyers who believe in promoting indigenous handicrafts without putting their fashion quotient at stake.

The ongoing Dastkar South Asian Bazaar here – for the first timer at least – provides a kaleidoscopic view of the cultural richness and diversity of crafts from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Afghanistan and India with the focus on this country. The bazaar is on till 1 September. It’s a different matter that India, Pakistan and Bangladesh were once one nation. There are around 65-exhibitors who specialise in their native skills and have been experimenting with various techniques to up the ante of their products.

Delhi-based Remakumar, a textile designer and consultant, has incorporated various techniques to merge weaves and embroideries from different states offering an ethnic fashion treat. For instance, indigenous weaves from Uttarakhand have been used on cotton yarn instead of wool, a thoughtful step to provide all-year employment to the craftsmen. ‘Usually you have this weave in wool. I have used cotton instead and now the craftsmen can work all through the year,’ Remakumar said while showing a fine cotton dupatta with detailed handwork. ‘Indian craftsmanship is finest and has evolved with time. This has fallen into the line with fashion sensibilities and is no more considered boring.

Adapting right techniques, and keeping basic sensibilities intact has put it into fashion forefront,’ she added. For one of her saris, she used chanderi silk from Madhya Pradesh and patti work from Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh – a colourful fusion of the two. Ajrakhpur in Bhuj, Gujarat is home to the art of Ajrakh – a block printing technique that uses colours derived from nature such as indigo, henna, turmeric, iron, pomegranate and mud. Also representing this traditional art at the mela is Khatri Abdulrauf Abdulrazak who pointed out the print has its roots in the Sindh region, which is now in Pakistan, but the craftsmen on this side of the border had gained an edge by widely adapting new techniques. ‘We are 20 years ahead of them in this craft,’ he replied when asked why the basic print as seen in Pakistan – a combination of black over red – was missing from the display. Mostly women artisans comprise the workforce in this handicrafts group. But Abdulrauf pointed out the process involved in producing the finest Ajrak prints needs muscle power and not delicate hands.
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