Masterweaver Saeed Ur Rahman on distinctive handloom Banarasi saris and the pandemic-induced challenges


Saeed Ur Rahman shows a rangkat Banarasi sari
| Photograph Credit score: Sangeetha Devi Dundoo

Saeed Ur Rahman, the Banarasi masterweaver who works with weavers throughout 800 looms, quotes strains from a Majrooh Sultanpuri poem when requested how he and his household grew from power to power and got here to be often known as one of many distinguished Banarasi masterweavers: 

“Major akela hello chala tha janib-e-manzil magar,

Log saath aate gaye karvan banta gaya.”

(I set off alone in direction of my vacation spot, however individuals stored coming alongside and it turned a caravan)

He was instrumental in founding the Taj Property at Bhelupura, Varanasi, which has now develop into a go-to tackle for distinctive heirloom Banaras textiles. Designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee is amongst these liaising with Rahman for custom-woven saris. 

The masterweaver is in Hyderabad for an exhibition and discuss on the Crafts Council of Telangana premises, CCT Areas.

Saeed hails from a household of weavers whose speciality is in handwoven delicate organza, cotton and high quality depend silk. “We’re a household of six brothers. Throughout our grandfather’s time, the household used to weave and promote textiles. Throughout my father’s time, our household went by a tough section and the main focus was on weaving, not advertising and promoting,” he recounts throughout this temporary interview with The Hindu. In later years, he launched tussar and jute fibres in Banaras saris.

He took to weaving as a youngster and says the enjoyment and satisfaction of having the ability to weave was unmatchable: “We labored collectively as a household. If I’ve to promote a handloom sari woven by our household, I would like data of textiles and heritage weaves. That’s the way it started. I offered one sari and was elated. One factor led to a different and we started working with different weaver households.”

Within the early 1980s, the brothers knew it was time to have a proper institution to promote handwoven Banaras saris woven by their household and that of different weavers. Throughout a go to to Delhi, a textile professional suggested them to register an organization and begin promoting. Saeed and his brother arrange Taj Property as an unbiased agency in 1986: “We began working with a number of weaver households and the rapport that we proceed to have with them is that of 1 weaving household with one other, relatively than only a masterweaver with different weavers. As orders grew, our loom base expanded.”

Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma during their wedding reception in New Delhi. Anushka’s Banarasi sari drew attention and weavers received more orders, says master weaver Saeed Ur Rahman

Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma throughout their wedding ceremony reception in New Delhi. Anushka’s Banarasi sari drew consideration and weavers obtained extra orders, says grasp weaver Saeed Ur Rahman
| Photograph Credit score:
Sushil Kumar Verma

Orders stored coming in by their retailer in Varanasi and thru designers for weddings and particular events. Saeed cites the instance of a Banarasi sari worn by actor Anushka Sharma as a part of her bridal trousseau and the ripple impact it had: “Out of the blue, much more girls confirmed curiosity in Banarasi saris. When celebrities put on a handloom sari, it advantages the enterprise and the weavers.”

However there have been tough phases as nicely. The pandemic introduced gross sales to a grinding halt for a quick time, he says. “We advised the weavers to make use of their financial savings properly. We positioned orders for a couple of saris to maintain the morale of weavers excessive. We might advise them to weave not less than for a couple of hours a day to keep away from getting depressed.”

A number of particular weaves additionally took form throughout this time. The weavers labored on 10 Banarasi ‘rangkat’ saris, that are distinctive for his or her woven color block patterns. Saeed exhibits one other gossamer-like sari named Hawa Mahal, through which the jaali sample offers an ethereal high quality to the sari. “Weavers weren’t certain if the rangkat saris would discover takers. However all of the 10 saris acquired offered.”

Such particular saris, he says, can take three or 4 months to weave. “Such saris require the focussed consideration of weavers and it’s attainable to weave solely two to 4 inches every day. When it takes longer to weave a sari, it’s the responsibility of the grasp weaver to offer the weaver some monetary assist until the order is full.”

Saeed says a number of weavers put up small paan, vegetable or tea stalls when the enterprise was bleak. “A few of them went to Surat and Bengaluru, amongst different cities, looking for jobs. Issues are getting higher now and the method is on to make these weavers return house and take to weaving. There isn’t a larger pleasure than weaving from house.”

A number of grasp weavers, he says, additionally took to Instagram and Fb to seek out new clients. Whereas Taj Property has a social media presence, it’s restricted. Saeed says his consideration is totally on textile work and his son is eager on having a bigger social media presence to take the enterprise ahead.

The increase of powerlooms in Varanasi has been talked about as a risk to handlooms. Saeed has a measured view on the difficulty and says, “Powerlooms are a necessity of our instances for mass manufacturing and to supply cheaper saris; handlooms have inventive high quality. We can not dismiss or struggle powerlooms, although we’re conscious of the competitors. Those that need inventive handloom saris will come to weavers. There’s a story behind each distinctive handloom sari.”

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