West Bengal is popularly known as the cultural city of India. The Bengal folk enjoys wide variety of traditions and cultures influenced by the islamic rule, religious movements and the colonial era.Gaatakatha team was fortunate to visit few weaver families, learn the history and the intense labor behind these beautiful fabrics.
Some of the famous sarees of West Bengal are Khadi, Linen, Muslin, Garad, Bishnupuri, Tussar, Gamcha, Kowdial, Baluchari, Kantha, Shantipuri, Shibori etc.
Shibori Saree :
Shibori - Tie and dye technique is an ancient art form which has been in practice all over the world since seventh century. Different parts of the world have added their own expertise, creativity and local designs to this method.
The Shibori in Bengal has its own magical touch to the production of the saree.
- The tying process gets done on the wooden handloom itself before it is sent for the dyeing.
- Fabric is immersed in boiling colored water for few minutes.
- After the fabric absorbs the colour, it is washed until the colour bleeding stops.
- After the final wash, it is immersed in salt and neem water.
A popular folk tale describes the Kantha work as a token of love. The women of Bengal use to depict the their thoughts, nature and local stories on the fabric while waiting for the safe arrival of their husbands from the war. It's a popular gift to the loved ones. Kantha work is very diverse, some designs take few days, some may take months and some years.
Its unfortunate to see the machines replacing the hand embroidery thus has reduced the market demand for these hand embroidered fabrics. On an average, the local women get only 500 - 800rs for several hours of intricate hand embroidery. Gaatakatha is supporting a small group of women who are employed under Ankita ji, a women entrepreneur who is inspiring and encouraging women artisans from various parts of West Bengal.
Linen is one of the oldest fabric which is extracted from the flax plant. The fibre is obtained from the inner bark of the plant. Linen is one of the widely used fabric in the fashion industry.
There are three major steps before we obtain the fibre which can be spun into yarn.
Retting : Bacteria is used to decompose the natural pectin
Scutching : The wooden portions are removed and the fibres are separated
A community of Hindu weavers are said to have migrated from east Pakistan (Bangladesh) and settled in Fulia and other regions of West Bengal who practiced this weaving pattern.
Jamdani is one of the finest weaving technique of embroidering on the weft. Motifs of animals, flowers, birds across the body and pallu of the saree makes the saree rich and beautiful
Narayan Kaka who owns a small cluster of handlooms with his wife Prathima Kaki, explains the jamdani weaving as the most time consuming and intricate weaving technique
Khadi, the hand woven fabric spun out if cotton and sometimes mixed with silk and wool. Bengal’s Khadi is a source of pride to the Gandhian Swadesi movement. The finest khadi from 100 count to 500 count is woven in several regions of West Bengal.
Ankita ji, encourages and nurtures the creativity of the weaver by providing them the information about the new weaving patterns and the current trends of the market. Gaatakatha is happy to be associated with Naskar Handloom cluster which is a perfect blend of Indian tradition with a modern approach and weaving techniques.
Gaatakatha will be exploring more and will strive to bring all the magical weaves under one global platform. Watch out this space for more info.
Gaatakatha Travel Diaries