An initiative aims to empower artisans by offering improved technology, tools and market access.
Handmade dupattas, saris, stoles, yardages, home textiles, handbags and shoulder bags from Odisha, Assam, and Nagaland were on display at the Artisan Exhibit of Handwoven Textiles which saw over 800 products made by nine artisans from Maniabandha, Kamrup, and Dimapur.
Organised by Anataran, an initiative by Tata Trust, it aims to bring about changes by offering improved technology, tools, and market access in order to create a sustainable environment for the craft forms to survive and thrive in.
Thirty-two-year-old artisan Bikash Mahapatra from Odisa, who has been continuing his family tradition for over 20 years now, had put on display cotton saris, dupattas, and stoles. “One saree takes three-four days but the whole process takes about 15 days. Mostly, those with intricate designs take us one or two months,” says Mahapatra.
On display from Assam were Eri and Muga silk dupattas and sarees. Artisan Nabanita Kalita who started this craft about six months ago loves making products in bright colours and dominating the exhibit was the colour green. “Eri silk is expensive and tedious to make. The cocoon has to be boiled first and then the thread is extracted,” she adds.
However, the highlights of the exhibition were the intricate geometric designs from Nagaland on cushion covers, shopping and shoulder bags by artisan Kheshivi Murru.
“Everything is made from cotton. And the designs are mostly geometric. If the designs are tricky and complicated, it takes more than two weeks,” says an elated 47-year-old at her first-ever display.
With this exhibition, Murru wants people to learn about the lion loom or the backstrap loom, which is one of the oldest looms, used by the tribes of Nagaland and is passed on to daughters from generation to generation. Sharda Gautam, head of Crafts at Tata Trusts explains that the focus is on kalakaar and karigar level of artisans and on strengthening the ecosystem.
“Antaran aims at transforming the lesser-known craft clusters of the country. These karigars are trained on aspects related to business management, textile design, the use of smartphones, communication skills, and advanced weaving techniques. We are also focusing on enhancing the indigenous breed of fibers, natural dyeing, and other pre-post loom processes,” concludes Gautam.