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Monday, May 20, 2002

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Handwoven splendour

THE STATES of Gujarat, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh share the art form of Ikkat, the traditional form of resist dyeing, originating in the Far East. Tying and dyeing parts of yarn to a preconceived pattern produces the most beautiful of saris. Originally done in vegetable dyes, they are even today hand-woven. Thus each sari is a priceless possession.

The Patola of Gujarat, woven with fine imported silk yarn, has long been a status symbol, even among the royals. The intricate patterns take very long to weave and consequently, the cost is very high. It is said that many old pieces of the Patola fabric, rich in vegetable dyes, are burnt and the residual ash consumed as a local medicine.

Orissa's Ikkats, in cotton and silk, have slokas from the Gita Govinda woven into the pattern.

Andhra's Pochampalli Ikkats are attractive with modern designs and colours and their prices are purse-friendly too.

Patola and Ikkat motifs can be found in the Ajanta frescos. Patola finds mention in the Gujarati poetry of the 11th Century. With such a long tradition, the fabric has a timeless appeal.

Maurya on Nungambakkam High Road (near Taj Coromandel)is organising a sale of the Ikkats from the three States. Available in cotton and silk, the saris with stunning borders are suitable for grand occasions. The geometric and animal motifs in white, red, beige, blue and black are attractive, making the saris an excellent buy. The sale is on from today till stocks last.

RUPA GOPAL

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