“Woven Wonders of Varanasi,” an exhibition hosted by the Bhau Daji Lad Museum to revive the traditional weaves of Varanasi for supporting the weavers’ community was held on Friday where master weavers from different pockets of Varanasi stepped out of their obscurity to find pride of place next to some of the country’s top designers.
Ritu Kumar was one of 20 other designers like Rina Dhaka, Manish Malhotra, Anita Dongre, Nandita Mahtani, Neeta Lulla and others trying to weave fresh life into fabrics from the textile traditions of Varanasi.
The exhibition with a social overtone brings together weavers, textile workers and eminent designers to showcase possibilities beyond the sari with the intergenerational craft of Benarasi weaving.
From three lakh weavers the community has dwindled to 40, 000 despite being lone guardians of the craft with excellent skills. If older weavers have turned construction workers or rickshaw pullers, the younger lot is moving on to call centre jobs and security services when they find weaving no longer profitable.
Ashok Dhawan of Benarasi Vastu Udyog Sangh said that business of handwoven Benarasi saris has deteriorated 2000 onwards when power-looms entered. With Modiji’s interest in weavers’ empowerment and the designers’ recent engagement, their karigars are enthused.
Shaina N C, curator of the show said that after a month of display at the museum, Woven Wonders of Varanasi will move to Delhi and then to London to reach international quarters through this Make in India initiative to inspire the world with their creations.