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Weaving fantasies

Tradition is the source of inspiration for the topper of the State Government's weaving contest...


It is hard to imagine more splendid sartorial statements than those showcased by A. Ramachandran, a weaver from Uchekada, near Balaramapuram.

Ramachandran won the first prize for his innovative piece -- a Kerala kasavu sari with a scene from the Mahabharata -- at `Weaves 2003', organised in the city recently by the State Directorate of Textiles and Handloom as part of the `Kerala Handloom Expo-03'.

Ramachandran, hailing from a family of weavers, has been in this profession since the age of 10.

The Kerala kasavu saris and set mundus with motifs of peacocks, swans, parrots, elephants and flowers, created by Ramachandran, have been inspired by tradition.

As part of the effort to promote handloom, 100 craftsmen were selected from different parts of the State for a three-month workshop held at the Nalanchira College.

Ramachandran was among these craftsmen who were given orientation in modern designing and the latest techniques in weaving, and a monthly stipend of Rs. 3,000 each.

"I wanted to weave a design that would be challenging and would require a great deal of skill. So, I chose to depict a scene from the Bhagawat Gita. It took me more than two months to weave this sari," says Ramachandran.


The picture was drawn on paper by a local artist and then etched onto teak wood. "Teak gives the best finish for etched/carved designs. The etched pattern has to be dipped in dye and imprinted on the threads across the loom," says the master weaver. He has a team of seven expert weavers to assist him.

Incidentally, Sudhakaran, a weaver with Ramachandran's own unit, has bagged the third prize at `Weaves - 2003' for his work on a sari, embellished with patterns of swans and lotuses.

Ramachandran and his team weave customised saris and mundus for well-known garment showrooms in the State. His clientele include celebrities.

The price of the saris ranges from Rs. 1,500 to about Rs. 50,000. "We are open to new ideas and designs, however difficult they may be. We also make changes in traditional designs to suit the customer's demand."

Ramachandran attributes his success to his "refusal to compromise on quality".

He is working now on a sari depicting a Kathakali figure, and this he hopes to complete in a month.

SMITHA SADANANDAN

Photo: C. Ratheesh Kumar

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