S1 E10 - “Know your Maheshwaris“

Episode 10: “Know your Maheshwaris“

अबnoरmal proudly presents “Touring Talkies”
Season 1 “Kanyakumari se Kashmir tak - Ek Sari-torial Safar”.

This weekend our Sari-torial Safar takes us on on a journey to Maheshwar in Madhya Pradesh. The Maratha Queen Ahilyabai Holkar developed Maheshwar’s local textile weaving into what today would be called “a center of excellence and innovation.” Her reign is considered a golden age for Maheshwar’s cultural, social and economic development. Three primary weaving communities came to settle here at Ahilyabai's behest; the Mahrus & the Salvis from Surat & the Momins came via Burhanpur; they were perhaps originally from Varanasi. From this blend of weaving styles, the iconic Maheshwari sari was born as per Ahilyabhai’s vision. Over time, the Maheshwari sari conceived, originally as a Navvari completely in cotton having the finest of counts morphed into half cotton half resham & later on underwent variations in silk & cotton yarn however still retaining its signature simmering gossamer elegance.
The one trait of the Maheshwari saris that has stood the test of time is its zari (or, brocade) borders. It is said that Ahilya bai was not partial to floral motifs, and commanded the weavers to design only geometric patterns. The weavers, therefore drew inspiration from the ornate stone carvings on the fort and temple structures and the Narmada to derive their unique design directory. Today, it is these intricate zari borders, which set the Maheshwari sari apart.

Our Guest Speaker today is Mira Sagar of Vaya Weaving Heritage. Born into a conservative, highly business-minded Gujarati family, she spent her childhood in Yemen and meandered her way through sciences in college, searching for her calling. Several successful exhibitions in Bombay combined with an innate sense of fashion & business led her to Maheshwar & thus began an affair with hand woven that survives till date & has finally led to a pleasing platform for her textile – Vaya Weaving Heritage!

Hear her hold forth on why the words ‘profit’ & ‘business’ should not be seen as bad in the context of Handlooms. For any art to survive, it has to make money otherwise why would a weaver commit to and improve upon his art? she asks.

What makes Mira’s & Vaya’s journey so compelling is the lucidity that it imparts to the onward path of hand woven in India. The weavers require a contemporary design mediacy, a secure and growing outlet for their product and a sense of expansion in their personal wealth and stature, to ensure that their commitment to the craft does not dwindle.

Please sit back & enjoy the video we have filmed. Hope you appreciate our sincerity of effort & do provide constructive feedback, comments & suggestions.

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Video edit courtesy @kk_fotography

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