Ikat of an earlier era

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    S.B.Nivetha Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Jun 19, 2017
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    Ikat of an earlier era


    With a special vintage ikat line, Shravan Kummar revives forgotten motifs

    A lot has been said about design intervention in reviving heritage weaves and techniques in certain handloom clusters. Several well known designers, in recent years, have been striving to revive vintage Benaras weaves, for instance. On the other hand, textile revivalists are trying to give a new lease of life to ‘korvai’ and other techniques of the kanjeevaram.
    Hyderabad-based designer Shravan Kummar felt it’s imperative to bring back forgotten ikat motifs from the pre-1920 era. “The 1920s and 30s are when mechanisation began to creep in when the British wanted more volume in less time,” reasons Shravan, on choosing to research an earlier era.

    Shravan’s heritage collection takes us back in time with elegant motifs of butterflies, annapakshulu, horses, elephants, the erstwhile ‘vanashringaram’ or ‘nandanavanam’ and the mythical yazhi, the chakra ghummam, and beladhari among others. The saris in lotus pinks and Rama blues and their styling draw inspiration from royalty of yore, including the late Gayatri Devi. The vintage line extends to men’s kurtas as well. A blue-white ikat silk bears an intricate motif of Sun god and horses. The animal figurines subtly accentuate these special occasion kurtas.
    Talking of the effort that went into recreating motifs that go beyond the over-used geometric and jacquard patterns we’re habituated to seeing in ikat, Shravan says, “It took our looms 18 months to make just nine saris. We’ve used real silver for the zari. The challenge was to get weavers of today recreate these motifs. The yarn was also treated differently to ensure that the fabric had a good fall and the sari isn’t too heavy. Some of the silk yarn went through double and triple polishing. This also helps give a matt finish to the fabric.”

    There’s no dearth of ikat being used by established and new fashion labels to create contemporary work wear for men and women, extending from saris and kurtas to dresses and trousers, and waistcoats to jackets. In all this spiel about urban chic, Shravan feels one has to also understand ikat’s history.
    A keen interest in vintage textiles has always been there, but he felt compelled to recreate older patterns. The preparatory work began with Shravan reaching out to his grandmother’s saris, sourcing old saris from families in Chennai, Kerala, Bobbili and Patiala, and visiting Calico Museum of Textiles in Ahmedabad, palaces and museums in Gwalior, Bikaner and Jaipur among other places.
    Shravan observes that the younger clientele has also begun to show a keen interest in heritage weaves, “Young women come to me with their mother’s or grandmother’s sari and some of these are not maintained in a good condition. We have forgotten the older methods of preserving heirloom textiles in camphor and pepper and placing them in a wooden box covered by newspapers. Quite often we recreate an entire vintage sari for a bride.”
    Reviving vintage weaves is an ongoing process and Shravan is working towards extending his repertoire. He mentions with pride a few special saris which he worked on with ikat weavers from Orissa to bring alive Ajanta and Ellora imagery on the saris.

    courtesy The Hindu

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