‘Baluchari: Bengal and Beyond’, an initiative of Weavers Studio Resource Centre in collaboration with Tantuja opened at the Birla Academy of Art and Culture on Friday, where an informative exhibition on the 150-year-old art of sari-making is on display.
Swapan Debnath, Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise was in attendance at the inauguration function. It may be mentioned that after coming to power in 2011, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee gave special emphasis on the revival of Muslin and Baluchari handicraft.
There will be a day-long seminar on November 19, with eminent historians, textile experts, master craftpersons deliberating on various issues, including geographical indication. A field trip will be organised to Bishnupur on November 20, 21, 26 and 27.
Twelve looms run by the weavers will be made operational soon and within two years 1,000 people will get jobs. The Camac Street shop of Tantuja will be a Baluchari shop by March-April in 2017, said Rabindranath Roy, managing director, Tantuja.
The exhibition is spread over two floors of the Birla Academy. The first floor showcases 54 original pieces of Baluchari, while the second floor displays modern designs woven both in Bengal and Varanasi.
The Weavers Studio was set up in 1993 as a textile company, with its mission statement “to use as many hands as possible.” In the past two decades, the textile study centre of Weavers Studio has collected 2,500 old and rare textiles, with a focus on Bengal, India, South East Asia, Japan, Africa and important trade textiles.
“Balucharis have a uniquely recognisable visual material language and are among the most figurative forms of hand-woven brocades in South Asia. Its historical legacy of patronage by royalty and aristocracy continues to maintain its appreciation as a rare textile art from the subcontinent,” said Darshan Mekani, director, Weavers Studio Resource Centre.
Baluchari, which originated in Murshidabad, later moved to Bishnupur due to various historical and geographical reasons. The original Baluchari did not have any Ramayana, Mahabharata, Shankuntala designs on them. Many regions tried to replicate the famous Baluchari craft several times. In the 1980s, weavers from Varanasi attempted in weaving the famous Bengal Baluchari in their own style of making butedar with zari.