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Here's a chance to pick up that Mangalgiri or Gadwal
Traditional wood craftsment at the Lepakshi sale Photo: K. Bhagya Prakash
YOU WON'T be too far off the mark if you say that there are some five-odd sales happening in Bangalore on any given day. And at least one of them features traditional artisans from outside the city. Not surprising, considering that an average Bangalorean laps up both international cuisine and traditional handicrafts with equal glee. If you want more proof of that, head for the ongoing Lepakshi sale at Safina Plaza. In mid afternoon, on a working day, you will see the place teeming with buyers!
S. Kasi Viswanadham, who mans the counter selling Chirala fabrics, will tell you that he sold textiles worth close to Rs. 2.5 lakh the last time he was in Bangalore. G.V.V. Satyanarayana, who is managing the show for Lepakshi, adds that Bangalore is indeed a great destination for craftspersons.
Not that each sale that arrives is spectacularly different from the other. In this sale, for instance, you see what you see every time an Andhra fare comes to town. There are saris and dress material from all those places with their famous weaving traditions Mangalgiri, Venkatgiri, Pochampally, Narayanpet, Chirala, Guntur, Gadwal... There are also kalamkari fabric and readymade salwar sets from Machlipatnam and dhurries from Warangal. Colourful lacquer toys and knick-knacks from Etikoppalaka make a stark contrast to the Chettinagunta wooden works, which play up the grain of the unembellished wood. If you're one of those who spurn that pack of ready-to-use spices on the supermarket shelf, you can buy yourself a nice-looking Chettinagunta pestle here.
As in every other sale, you'll find a good number of counters that have nothing to do with Andhra crafts. There are some selling Bengal cottons, chikan dress material, and ikat from Orissa.
Not that anyone is complaining of monotony. There are few parallels for cottons from Andhra, and most of us can't have enough of them. Those who are selling them, mostly craftspersons themselves, are friendly too. You will hear from Pundarikam, who mans the Pochampally counter, a story not related to the weaving tradition of the place: that it was in Pochampally that Vinobha Bhave kicked off his Bhoodan movement.
So, if you have a strong urge to head for Safina Plaza, but are suffering from equally strong bouts of guilt for being a shameless spendthrift, at least know that you are not the only one feeling that way. If it's going to make you feel any better, Satyanarayana will also tell you that you are doing the traditional craftsman a good turn by splurging at Lepakshi. He will also advise you to be adventurous and try out fabrics such as Chirala, which is treated somewhat like Mangalgiri's poorer cousin. "Chirala is close to Mangalgiri and the style of weaving is similar. Do you know that the material for the pyjama and the dupatta is often Chirala when you buy a Mangalgiri fabric? It's so similar that you won't even know!"
(The Lepakshi sale at Safina Plaza is on till August 8.)
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