मंगलवार, 10 नवंबर 2009

Varanasi Weavers

An introduction to the situation and the solution

Varanasi and its enduring tradition
Varanasi is a sacred place in Northern India. For more than 1,000 years this city has been home to the largest number of handloom weavers in India.

Venerated by Kings, saints, sinners and paupers; all drawn to its crowded river banks – Varanasi has a long culture of art and devotion. It has been one of the seeds of Indian writing for years. There is a special fervour in the populace and piety is a given attribute.

Hidden in the lanes and alleys of a very old city lies the threads of a tradition thousand years old. Here sits a community of weavers weaving magic into limp silk. For them it is not a profession. Rather it is their worship, an ode to the beauty of the world. Varanasi fabrics shimmer in their rainbow palette of colours, designs intricate and bold and a unique aesthetic sensibility.

The Crisis
Despite a beautiful tradition, looms are lying silent today and many have even been sold off. The devoted weaver has been pulled into the compulsion of modern life i.e. seeking any available livelihood. These weavers been pushed to the fringe of their community.

One of the main reasons is the product itself. The Silk Sari is no longer the main attire for the modern Indian woman and is reserved for special occasions like marriage. Another key reason is that the market is constantly being flooded by cheap machine made substitutes from other countries. These are cheaper in price and quality, are poor pretenders of the regal Varanasi silk and yet find a great market amongst the modern day shoppers who cannot tell the difference. Another crisis facing the weavers is that the traditional techniques are not viable today. The products need to be modernised and made usable as well as wearable in the contemporary context.

The compulsion of earning for their families looms large and many weavers have entered into professions like rickshaw pulling or construction labour and several are beginning to forget the art itself. The younger generation is not able to find it feasible to follow the family tradition anymore.

The Varanasi Weavers Project – A solution
We believe in the speciality and indigenousness of the craft of the Varanasi silk. It is a product that is as relevant and desirable today as it was before and is suffering from not being updated. Our efforts are to bring creative solutions to this situation and make it appropriate for the modern times.

Through this project some of our achievements have been:
Retraining of the weavers’ community.
Reorienting the products to more contemporary designs while maintaining and drawing upon the traditional skills and aesthetics.
We have done research towards making the Varanasi silk ready for modern day use. The silk which could previously only be dry cleaned is now sturdy and light enough to be machine washed. The fabrics are colour fast and the zari (the silver and golden threads used for weaving designs on the fabric) has been worked upon to make it more robust.
An old and lost craft has been revived, that of the beautiful Varanasi Buttons. The women have been trained in this product and they are now earning members of their family along with the men.
New markets have been explored and the weavers now have business with a private hotel chain and other private companies.
Today we have about 60 weavers who have joined the project and we have 90 women working and earning from the Varanasi buttons project. The project area is 3 villages around Varanasi.

Our Range
The outcome of the project is a range of materials and products that are very much rooted in the modern day context. The ease of use of the material and comfort of the wearer is emphasised in the new avatar of the Varanasi silk. The materials used are pure silk in black and natural colours. The motifs have been woven using zari and natural silk threads. The designs are simple lines and clean cut, for easy and comfortable wear. The motifs showcased are inspired by the traditional aesthetics of the weavers and the overall feeling is one of comfortable luxury.

Visit us for the more products at

About us
Upasana Design Studio
Upasana Design Studio based in Auroville (www.auroville.org), Tamilnadu, India is an open space for creativity and design in all its forms. We believe in Integral Design, where the product, the producer, lifestyles and traditions are all linked and given equal importance in the process of design. Upasana has been working extensively with Indian traditional textiles and techniques.

For more details please contact:

Auroville (T.N)
Pudducherry – 605101

Varanasi office

3-Maa janki apartment
Sant raghubar nagar
email -- varanasiveavers@upasna.in

Phone No.: +91-542-6455995
Website: www.upasana.in

1 टिप्पणी:

  1. dipti acha kam kar rahi hai. mai allahabad me hu. kabhi ana ho to mujhe batye shayed apke nek kam me kisi kam a sakoon. bhupesh

    उत्तर देंहटाएं