Go beyond wearing a sari

After the interest generated by #100SareePact, three women set up The Registry of Sarees to focus on Indian weaves and help set up looms

Kausalya Satyakumar, Apoorva Sadanand and Ally Matthan share a passion for indigenous techniques of weaving, embroidery and everything that goes into Indian textiles. All through 2015, they observed the enthusiasm created by #100SareePact (a movement started by friends Anju Maudgal Kadam and Ally Matthan), where women across India pulled out saris from their wardrobes and re-discovered the treasures handed down over generations.

Article by Sangeetha Devi Dundoo | The Hindu

hym19registry2_jpg_2818983g“A lot of women began observing things closely and asked questions about the jamdani, dabu, bagru and the many techniques we have. We are all passionate about textiles and were talking about what can be done to take this movement forward,” says Kausala Satyakumar, a textile expert who has travelled extensively to conduct textile trails.

Bangalore-based friends Kausalya, Ally and Apoorva Sadanand noticed that while Chennai had the Yarn Club, their city could do with an awareness drive. The drive had to generate interest, sustain it and be modelled such that it can travel to other cities. Apart from creating awareness, the trio wanted a project that would help revive neglected weaver pockets. Together, they formed The Registry of Sarees which will have a two-fold approach — focussed learning events on indigenous techniques and second, lending support to struggling looms.

The Registry of Sarees had its first learning session recently where designer Ashdeen Lilaowala, a graduate of National Institute of Design, took the audience through a brief history of Parsis in India. “Ashdeen spent the last decade between Persia, India and the rest of Asia and has documented the history of Parsis. We learnt interesting facts — that they were ship builders and their link with China among other details. The motifs we see in Parsi gara embroidery then made more sense; we understood how the peacock motif in India is different from that of China. The learning session helped us read the embroidery patterns better,” says Ally.

The idea of learning sessions is to provide insights and open up perspectives. Ally confesses, “Growing up as a South Indian, I had thought nothing can match the Kanchi silk. As I began learning about other textiles in the country, I learnt to appreciate our textile history better.”

The Registry of Sarees team worked in tandem with Dastkari Haat to train two weaver groups — one from Bengal and the other from Karnataka.

In December 2015, when Jaya Jaitley met a few women passionate about Indian weaves, she told them of the plight of gamcha weavers in Bengal who earned Rs. 30 to 40 per day. “Dastkar Haat helped in training some of them to weave saris, which will help them earn more,” says Kausalya.

Meanwhile, Hemalatha Jain, another textile enthusiast identified weavers specialising in patteda anchu in Karnataka in a similar plight. “We helped set up four looms in both sectors. Each weaver wove 25 saris and the two groups will be meeting potential customers at their residences on April 22 and 23 to directly sell the saris, a method that was followed decades ago,” says Ally.

The method helps weavers connect with customers and get feedback. “We don’t need to hand hold weavers once they develop a customer base,” Kausalya points out.

Apoorva Sadanand felt this model had to be self sustaining than running on charity. The trio decided to have exhibitions of rare weaves on The Registry of Sarees portal (which will be up soon). The collections will be curated by Kausalya and the proceeds will be used to set up looms in other sectors and organise learning events.

The Registry of Sarees is open to conducting learning events in different cities on invitation. “Even someone’s house will do. Some space and a focussed audience interested in textiles is all it takes,” reiterates Kausalya.

For more details, check facebook.com/TheRegistryOfSarees/