baluchari saris and story telling go together.

24 Dec

weaved in certain parts of bengal, the weavers weave stories  from the epics of mahabharata and ramayana on the yarn. the art is passed on from one  generation to the other . …today only a few remain. the weavers are the designers and the designers are the weavers.

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image credits and for more pictures at : the sari shop at portland

8 Responses to “baluchari saris and story telling go together.”

  1. Bedabrata April 22, 2010 at 5:45 am #

    Another weave that is on its way out – On a recent visit to Bishnupur in West Bengal, during the course of discussion with weavers, we came to know that they rarely weave the conventional Baluchari now. Apparently the consumers these days prefer bling. Hence a version of Baluchari that carries zari design instead of thread design(Swarnochari) is mostly woven.

  2. anrosh April 22, 2010 at 11:19 am #

    may be this generation refuses to see the magnanmity of weaving. however if the oral tradition of passing on weaving the baluchari is documented in written form ( god forbid it falls into the hands of big name fame and they will write it as XYZ name designer ) at least it can be preserved and some other generation might see it and want to bring it to life once again – i hope so.

    i also believe that sari is also one of the sustainable garments – minus its practicality in the rains or running to catch a train.

    welcome bedabrata – it is a pleasure to have you here –

  3. Bedabrata April 22, 2010 at 11:58 pm #


    Incidentally, for all textile enthusiasts, a look at a Balucahri loom is a must dekko. It is a very complex but intriguing process; the consumer in all likelihood has no clue about the engineering that goes behind a single piece. Plus the sound of all the looms working together is an extremely rythmic – most heady experience!

  4. anrosh April 23, 2010 at 2:29 am #

    my husband’s cousin was also mentioning — that the knowledge is passed down only through families – a lot of calculations are involved and especially how the actual weave is “crossed” – all this info is held in tight secrecy – and that’s how they retain the ingenuity and the knowledge that can hardly be successfully imitated.

    whole stories of myths on the yarn – as you say it is mind blowing. at least they should start making stoles/ because they are also a good 2 meters.

    as you say in your comment about the “bling ” threads i now recollect – the weaves done in gold thread – it does not come any close to the colored threads that they originally used.

    since india have always used the oral tradition to pass down a lot of knowledge – we have lost millions of such ingenuious knowledge and with use of chemicals everywhere the whole natural process is almost dead. – the simple sindoor is an example

    – but at the same time survival of the fittest come to my mind. Will a master weaver want his only child to get into a dying trade ? – but with markets expanding and if the locals do not want the baluchari – it should be marketed outside its usual boundaries and taken else where – who knows the europeans or the africans might like the spleandor of the baluchari and that would keep the weaver on his loom – i think it should explored don’t you think.

    And I am definitely going to buy one when I am in Calcutta

    • bedabrata April 23, 2010 at 5:49 am #

      Great. Suggest that you take a li’l more trouble and visit Bishnupur. It takes about 4 hours by train and is totally worth it. Not only can you do your shopping, but the teracotta temples are still absolutely stunning. This place is also a treasure trove for Bengal crafts. Apart from Baluchari, close to Bishnupur is the village Pnachmura which is the chief manufacturing region for the teracotta horses (logo of Central Cottage Industries). Bishnupur is also known for dokra and Dashavatar cards.

  5. bedabrata April 23, 2010 at 6:06 am #

    Further to my last comment, re your views on diversificfation, I suddenly remembered that a friend, on a visit to the weavers’ village in Bishnupur in around 2002, procured a small piece which a weaver had woven as a sample of an anchal of a saree and hence discarded. It depicted the revelation of Gita and my friend framed it. The effect is stunning. What is most important is that in such kinds of diversification there is no compromise on the distintinctive style – it is still, as you say “stories of myths on the yarn”.

  6. anrosh April 23, 2010 at 7:49 am #

    bedabrata – can i get in touch with you. my email address is

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