Pink Lilies, Water Birds: the exhibition in Hampi showcases the sari in 9 tales

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The Tungabhadra river flows, not too removed from the place we stand. On its southern financial institution is the UNESCO World Heritage Website of Hampi, the capital of the mighty Krishnadevaraya’s Vijayanagara empire. However we’re on the northern banks at Anegundi village, mentioned to be older than Hampi. Throughout are hills with large boulders precariously perched on prime of one another, and there’s a fixed chatter of monkeys. Not shocking, since that is Kishkinda, the monkey kingdom, the place it’s believed Hanuman, Vali, Sugreeva and their mighty armies dominated. Important episodes from the Ramayana performed out right here.

Watch | Pink Lilies, Water Birds: The Saree — In 9 Tales

We wait exterior the 14th century Ranganathaswamy temple for author and unbiased curator of textiles Mayank Mansingh Kaul, to steer us on a curated stroll that’s a part of the evocatively-named exhibition, Pink Lilies, Water Birds: The Saree — In 9 Tales. As we set off, admiring the rangoli working the size of both aspect of the lanes, the perfume of sambrani and a whiff of cow dung that’s smoothed over the brink of each home within the village, dangle within the air. Solely the occasional splutter of autorickshaws and cellular ringtones remind us that we’re not topics of Krishnadevaraya, however folks of the 21st century.

The exhibition has been put collectively by The Registry of Sarees (TRS),  a Bengaluru-based analysis and examine centre that permits design, curatorial and publishing initiatives within the space of handspun and handwoven textiles. “It’s a narrative that’s 150 years previous. And Pink Lilies, Water Birds feeds the curatorial path TRS has embarked upon,” mentioned Ahalya Mathan, founding father of TRS.

Why Pink Lilies, Water Birds?

“After I learn the strains in a translated early mediaeval Tamil traditional, Muttollayiram [a collection of poems in praise of the Chera, Chola and Pandya dynasties], the gorgeous picture they evoked stayed with me,” says Kaul.

The land of Kothai, deft wielder of a spear, with poison-tipped, leaf-shaped head, is aware of no turmoil besides that attributable to the water birds. For when the pink lilies bloom within the waterlogged fields, the birds panic, considering the water is on hearth…

Taking the handloom narratives out of museums and into more interactive spaces

Taking the handloom narratives out of museums and into extra interactive areas
| Picture Credit score:
Pankaja Srinivasan

108 weaves within the highlight

The 9 tales consult with the broadly categorised textiles on show — kora or unbleached supplies of their undyed type, the color pink, the ikat weave, stripes and checks, metallic brocades of Deccan and South India, metallic brocades of Deccan and Gujarat, traditions of Varanasi handlooms (in two elements), and international influences. “It took Ally [Ahalya] and me three years of journey throughout the nation to accumulate over 500 saris. We’ve got introduced 108 of these to Anegundi,” says Kaul.  

ALSO READ | Rangkat to Hawa Mahal, the story of distinctive Banarasi saris

It was a deliberate resolution to take the handloom narrative out of museums into extra interactive areas. Curator Mayank picked the centuries-old Anegundi, some 350 kilometres away from Bengaluru, to inform the these tales.

Mayank Mansingh Kaul points out the distinct structural elements of a sari: the border, the pallu, and the ‘field’ or the body

Mayank Mansingh Kaul factors out the distinct structural parts of a sari: the border, the pallu, and the ‘subject’ or the physique
| Picture Credit score:
The Registry of Sarees

“The exhibition is a narrative that is 150 years old,” says Ahalya Mathan

“The exhibition is a story that’s 150 years previous,” says Ahalya Mathan
| Picture Credit score:
The Registry of Sarees

The saris are displayed in 4 heritage houses with lime-plastered partitions which have been transformed into galleries, and as we go to each, the tales concerning the draped clothes from the late 19th to the early 20th century unfold. We stand on cool flagstone flooring and take a look at the Venkatagiris, Paithanis, Kanjivarams, Benarasis, Jaamdanis, Kotpads, Panetars, Balucheris, Sambalpuris… Kaul factors out the distinct structural parts of a sari: the border, the pallu, and the ‘subject’ or the physique. He explains using pure dyes derived from madder, chay, lac and cochineal.

Properties flip museums

The heritage houses have been restored and maintained by The Kishkinda Belief (TKT). It really works with the native communities of Anegundi on the grassroots stage, by partaking and empowering them to boost their high quality of life, and hosts multi-disciplinary initiatives of which Pink Lilies, Water Birds is one. “Tradition is a residing factor and celebrating these previous homes with textiles is an built-in strategy. Conservation ought to be part of every day life and never one thing that’s static,” says Shama Pawar, the founding father of TKT. “For 25 years, the belief has tried to make conservation inclusive. Our initiatives show the adaptive reuse of heritage areas which can be dropped at life with artwork and tradition.”

One of the four heritage homes that have been converted into galleries in Anegundi

One of many 4 heritage houses which have been transformed into galleries in Anegundi
| Picture Credit score:
The Registry of Sarees

A story in red

A narrative in pink
| Picture Credit score:
The Registry of Sarees

Taking saris out of geographical straitjackets

Pink Lilies, Water Birds additionally goals to create consciousness among the many new technology. When Kaul deliberate the mission, he was cautious to not make it too didactic. “I needed to break up the narratives into digestible morsels. And, within the 5 years we’ve needed to get up to now, so many layers of that means have been added to the gathering.” He says it’s time to take the saris out of straitjackets of the geographical space they’ve been confined in, and as a substitute rejoice their shared narratives and salient options.

As we peer intently at a powerful Kanjivaram sari from the 1940s lined with tiny gold motifs, he says the motif is known as mayil kannu in Tamil Nadu or the attention of the peacock. The exact same weave is used within the making of pashmina shawls in Kashmir; solely there it’s known as chashme bulbul. It simply goes to show that weaving methods, dyeing traditions, motifs are dynamic, and that’s how they need to be considered.

The ikat story

The ikat story
| Picture Credit score:
The Registry of Sarees

The expertise at Anegundi brings house the truth that these live traditions, nonetheless vibrant, significant and modern. Lots of the saris on the exhibition are ones I’ve again house. Kaul says that encapsulates what the curation is all about — that the saris, even the oldest Paithani on show that dates again to the 19th century, are concerning the right here and now, and never lifeless and forgotten.

Manish Saksena, a participant within the stroll, has labored within the handloom sector for greater than 20 years. He leads the CSR initiative of Aditya Birla, known as Aadyam Handwoven, to create a self-sustaining ecosystem for artisans within the nation. “The distinctive setting of Pink Lilies, Water Birds reminds us of our wealthy lineage of weaving. The minute we put ‘heritage’ in a standard museum, it turns into one thing that’s firmly positioned prior to now. However I do know from expertise that even right now our weavers’ group has the abilities to recreate among the saris right here, and we must always not take that as a right.”

The story of metallic brocades of the Deccan and South India 

The story of metallic brocades of the Deccan and South India 
| Picture Credit score:
The Registry of Sarees

An opportunity to be taught and unlearn

There are a number of walkthroughs in the middle of the day, some in English and others in Kannada. The excitement spills out of the exhibition areas as artists, musicians, designers and historians talk about, dissect and publish on their Instagram pages.

For 29-year-old textile revivalist and designer Saurav Das, the exhibition is a chance to see, soak up, be taught and unlearn. “It creates an influence and introduces the lay individual to the story of our textiles. How a lot of a distinction it makes when artisans, weavers, dyers and those that share the identical textile path are in a position to see these wonderful creations up shut and never in cupboards in standard museums. This can be a solution to carry the mission of preserving, researching and studying ahead.”

Spreading the phrase

Within the coming days, Pink Lilies, Water Birds will host a inventive cultural programme organised by the Indian Institute of Administration, Ahmedabad, the place a collection of talks, workshops and mentorship modules will provoke related conversations round craft and entrepreneurship.

Pink Lilies, Water Birds is on until December 6. To register, go to theregistryofsarees.com.

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