Stitched in gold

Image this: It’s the 1800s and in within the the by-lanes of Varanasi, weavers sit at pit looms and meticulously create material with beautiful zari (pure gold threads). The textile options auspicious Chinese language and Buddhist motifs like lotuses and dragons. From Varanasi, the material travels to the snow-clad areas of Tibet and Ladakh the place it seems within the Buddhist thangkas (scroll work), festive robes of the Lamas (academics) and as adornments in monasteries.

That is the story of Gyaser — quite a lot of silk-brocade material that linked the Far East and the Himalayas to the Gangetic Plains by way of the Silk Route. But it surely’s misplaced its sheen with time. At this time, it has been reworked into saris by Kolkata-based designers and textile revivalists Swati Agarwal and Sunaina Jalan. The duo is bringing their assortment to the town in a present titled Between Land And The Sky: Woven Gold from Gyaser Custom. Introduced by artwork patron Czaee Shah, the gathering consists of 12 to 15 historic items that hint the event of the Gyaser custom from China to Varanasi from the late 19th century till the 1980s. These will likely be accompanied by up to date, single-edition Gyaser saris created by the designers. “I used to be impressed with Swati and Sunaina’s grit to revive and reinterpret India’s textile heritage. The thought of this exhibition was to introduce their repertoire to Mumbai,” says Shah.

Curated by Monisha Ahmed — an impartial researcher and author, with a concentrate on the histories, practices and materials tradition of Ladakh — the works additionally embrace scenography by Mayank Mansingh Kaul.

The goal was to create a visible expertise of the Himalayan panorama and Buddhist monasteries. Ahmed causes, “By way of the chosen textiles and the photographs, we wished to point out how the richness of the Gyaser material performs out towards the backdrop of barren mountains and its transformation from a devotional material to one in all style.”

Retrace the historical past

The luxurious, intricate zari-woven saris, with vibrant floral designs, are the results of year-long analysis undertaken by the designers, who launched their label Swati & Sunaina in 2007 to revive India’s forgotten handloom weaves. “Initially, we had been drawn to the wealthy patterns that the usage of zari permits within the Gyaser. As we learnt extra about its historical past, we had been fascinated to know that these textiles had been initially impressed by Chinese language brocades,” says Agarwal who together with Jalan has beforehand labored with Jamdani and Rangkaat weaves. The method of remodeling the normal, heavy Gyaser textile right into a softer weave that could possibly be draped as a sari was a problem. “Initially, the textile was woven on a 23-inch-wide loom. To create a sari drape, we elevated its width to 45 inches and modified the textile building to make it lighter and extra supple,” says Jalan.

In pure gold

By way of their label, the designers have sought to re-introduce pure zari of their renditions of basic designs from Varanasi. “Weavers have stopped working with pure zari as a result of it’s costly and hand-weaving with it’s slower than with its artificial substitutes,” says says Agarwal. “We’ve needed to develop particular relationships with grasp weavers who’re prepared to go the additional mile as soon as assured that they’ll have sustained orders from our finish.” To weave the Gyaser saris in gold, the 2 revivalists created a 98.5% silver zari plated with 24-carat gold. “This helped us obtain the brilliant tone required in a Gyaser textile,” she provides. The saris are introduced to the consumers with a spindle of the zari that has been used within the creation, the title of the grasp weaver who has woven it and particulars of the methods and yarns used.

Between Land And The Sky: Woven Gold from Gyaser Custom is on until April 20, 11 a.m. to six p.m. at Gallery Maskara, Colaba. Costs begin at ₹6 lakhs.

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