To keep the craft alive, two women have taken on the challenge. Joni Saikia Kharbanda and Becca Rosen are two of these women. Together, they have created a collection of beautiful textiles that are timeless and rooted in traditional Indian culture.
The Taj hotel group decided to support India’s handloom artisans by investing in their livelihoods. They set up a water pump, built a school, and helped supply the weavers with silk yarn. They also hired a Mumbai designer, Jay Ramrakhiani, to help create designs for the saris.
Varanasi, India, has been an important silk trading hub for centuries. During the Mughal period, the weaving industry flourished. Today, handloom weavers in the city are struggling to stay afloat. But their efforts have given local residents a bit of hope.
The sari is traditionally divided into three parts: the body, the border, and the pallu. The body is the main portion of the sari. The border is the contrast and comes in different widths. The perfect half of the sari is called the ‘arai pagam’.
The saris that Maheshwari Creations create are one of the finest examples of art. The company employs 407 weavers who create saris with six yards of cotton yarn. The Maheshwari saris are also reversible, making them the perfect sari for every occasion.
The Maiyet project started with 12 weavers in 2008 and now employs more than 40 weavers. The project has also set up homes in London and New Delhi. The weavers now work for hotels and gift boutiques. The project is also set to open a new building for its artisans in 2016.
Jonali Saikia Kharbanda
The Sari, a traditional garment in North India, is still in demand today. While the socialist-inspired central planning protected local handicrafts from the international market, economic reforms ushered in cheap goods from China. The sari’s traditional weaving patterns influenced Chinese sari factories. As a result, it needs urgent government protection. The sari is an iconic piece of India’s culture and heritage.
The traditional craft is now being revived in Varanasi, India. In the past, there were more than half a million men and women employed in the craft. Now, two companies are working together to bring this ancient craft back to life. The first is Maiyet, a New York fashion label that employs Varanasi weavers, while the other is the Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, which organizes tours to visit weavers in their villages. So far, the tours have hosted more than 700 people.
The craft of weaving saris has its roots in ancient India, dating back to 500 B.C. India’s textile trade flourished in the early sixteenth century, with the Mughal period being the peak period. These delicate textiles were prized by the European elite. However, due to British colonization and the industrial revolution, the Indian textile trade was devastated. With cheaper textiles flooding the country, the demand for hand-woven garments was completely destroyed.
Today, the Sari is a luxury item only available in the most expensive shops. However, there are still thousands of artisans who continue the craft in a more modest way. Many of them are rural women, who weave them by hand. These women have mastered the art of weaving this ancient cloth.
Among the artisans who keep this ancient craft alive is Mohammad Sirajuddin. This artisan creates silk saris, which are considered the pinnacle of traditional Indian style. The silk saris are also revered by Hindus, with cremations held on the banks of the Ganges River believed to be a way out of death.
To keep this craft alive, Maiyet has partnered with an American nonprofit group called Nest. This group supports artisans in developing countries by providing materials. The organization has a workshop in Ayodhyapur that employs 15 weavers. Interestingly, the work of the weavers has also drawn the attention of the celebrated British architect, David Adjaye. In a project aimed at preserving traditional art, he is designing a building to house the artisans’ crafts.