Master weaver Prakash Siju from Bhujodi in Kutch is breathing new life into the age-old tradition of carpet weaving practised by giving it a new look through 'Project Tarasha'.
The Rann of Kutch is a mine of age-old craftsmanship nourished by the varied skills of its diverse communities. One of these is a unique form of carpet weaving called the extra weft technique. It’s an old, tried and tested formula, but Bhujodi-based Prakash Siju of Kutchi Carpets (whose family has been doing this for 11 generations now), has been busy updating patterns and colours to make them appropriate for modern homes.
There, he displayed new patterns created as part of his collaboration with Project Tarasha, a social initiative that brings craftpreneurs from India’s rural hinterlands to the fore. “Generally, carpets are meant for floors, but in this collaboration, we worked on a unique upholstery concept where the carpet can be used as a chair cover,” he says.
Another collection was based on the woollen ludi (veil), which is embroidered with medallions and used by Kacchi women. Siju has converted these old motifs for his contemporary carpets. “We try to come up with unique ideas that seamlessly fit into modern homes yet hold traditional values. With the support of local NGOs, we join exhibitions to push the envelope by developing unique products for the market,” he adds.
It is a time-consuming process, he says. Whatever design they decide to weave, the first step is sourcing raw materials such as yarn and making organic dyes. The next step is starching the thread, so that it stays stiff on the loom. All this is done by the women of the household and takes about a week or so. Men do the actual weaving, the duration of which depends on the size of the carpet. Sometimes a week, sometimes more.
Siju learnt weaving from his father, who was himself a master weaver. After the disastrous earthquake in 2001, several NGOs came up across the city, and along with the government, they reached out to the weavers to expand the craft of the land.
Today, the team at Kutchi Carpets comprises Siju, his parents, wife and younger brother––a team, which like many others in his region, has been able to reach out to retail markets in the US, UK and Canada, all that thanks to globalisation.
This content is originally posted at newindianexpress
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