A stitch of independence

Updated: Jan 13, 2020, 21:37 IST | Dalreen Ramos | Mumbai

Artisans from Odisha, Assam, Nagaland, and Andhra Pradesh bring handwoven textiles to the city for a two-day showcase

Maniabandha artisan Akula Charan Nandi interacting with Jaya Jaitly (centre)
Maniabandha artisan Akula Charan Nandi interacting with Jaya Jaitly (centre)

Known to be one of the oldest exported products in the world, Indian textiles have witnessed tremendous growth and change over the years. It is an industry that is the source of employment for nearly 45 million people. The new Textile Policy 2020 is currently being formulated by the central government and is aimed at making India a hotspot for manufacturing. But irrespective of policy, it is important that we pay heed to our artisans in an age where fast fashion is the norm — especially those who are working hard to preserve traditional techniques via the handloom.

Vekuvolu Dozo from Dimapur, Nagaland


With an idea of promoting development in the crafts sector, Antaran was launched by Tata Trusts under their craft-based livelihood programme in 2018. This not only enables craftspeople to turn entrepreneurs but in the process, also gain market access. The intervention operates via clusters in states known for their weaves. And this week, artisans from Odisha, Nagaland, Assam and Andhra Pradesh will come to the city for a two-day showcase of a variety of products including dupattas, tote bags and yardages. From Assam's Kamrup region, one will find Kamrup cotton and eri silk, while artisans from Andhra Pradesh's Venkatgiri have fine cotton and silk weaves embellished with jamdani and zari. Back-strap loom textiles can be picked from the clusters of Dimapur and Phek in Nagaland and choose from Odisha's Maniabandha weft ikat in fine cotton and silk, and Gopalpur weaves in ghicha and tussar, too.

Bikash Mahapatra from Maniabandha, Odisha

Sharda Gautam, head of crafts at Tata Trusts, explains that what makes this initiative unique is the fact that artisans go though rigorous education to fine-tune their own products for the market as opposed to a designer laying down the rules for them. Antaran only serves as a platform. "They undergo hands-on training in incubation and design centres. So, they learn concepts right from colour theory and mood boards to making invoices and GST. They are also taught about social media and ideal hashtags, and have accounts on Instagram and Facebook," he says, adding, "This exhibition not only helps them to gain confidence and interact with people but also gather market feedback."

Firoja Begum from Kamrup, Assam

When the show came to Mumbai in July last year, it was a hit with Mumbaikars as seven artisans managed to make approximately R12 lakh in two days. The aesthetic of all products, Gautam reminds us, is rooted in tradition. In addition, people can also get custom products made in coordination with the artisans. Prices start from Rs 480 and go up to Rs 1,25,000. So, there's something for everyone.

ON January 16 and 17, 11 am to 7 pm
AT North Lounge, World Trade Centre, Ganesh Murti Nagar, Cuffe Parade.
CALL 66387272

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