Ode to the Jamdani Weaves
13th December to 15th December, 2018
Bikaner House, New Delhi
A Jamdani weaver can have between 100 and 300 different discontinuous weft threads laid out before her as she weaves. Carefully, she picks the right thread and interweaves each weft by hand through thousands of warp threads. On a usual day, a Jamdani weaver weaves between a quarter and one inch of fabric. This means a weaver could spend more than a year weaving one Jamdani Saree.
The Master's Canvas To this day, the Jamdani loom is nearly identical to its original form. Simply put, the loom’s only purpose is to hold warp threads under tension to facilitate the interweaving of weft threads. Its bareness evokes the lure of a blank canvas. Its simplicity stands in stark contrast to the numerous forms that human hands can articulate when practising the art of Jamdani. All its iterations are the result of thousands of threads being skillfully manipulated by hand, and not mechanical adjustment.
The astonishing intricacy of a Jamdani weaver’s artisitry is displayed most perfectly when the final weave is turned around. So fine is the interlinking that the extra weft merges completely with the base fabric, making the back of its weave looks exactly the same as its front. Even in this age of technological advancement, the weaver’s craft stands as a potent symbol of the fact that no machine can replicate the expressions created by human hand.
The checkered Kota-doria of Rajasthan has incorporated fresh designs and innovated new techniques. Paithani of Maharashtra is doing the same, while also reviving lost intricacies of pattern.
Kota & Paithan
The birthplace of Jamdani – Dhaka (Bangladesh), continues the original weaving methods. Here, the master weavers have re-initiated the tradition of weaving with the finest cotton threads, bringing back the same wind like fabric of the past.
Kashi (Varanasi or Banaras)
In Kashi, Jamdanis almost as ancient as it is in east. This region is experimenting with multiple colors and yarns, new inspirations in motifs as well as method. Weavers here are also bringing back some rare techniques.
Venkatgiri, Uppada, Srikakulam
Venkatgiri is continuing its tradition of weaving fine cotton threads while expanding the size of motifs. Uppada is playing with new innovations that allow for greater intricacy than ever. Srikakulam is reclaiming its place as the abode of some of our finest weavers by honing its finesse and expanding its range of designs.
The modern era has made the weavers of India better connected as a community. Sharing their skills and techniques, they are creating a whole new dimension in Jamdani’s weave. The result is a new hybrid genre that allows for increasingly complex patterns and designs never before attempted on the Jamdani loom.
SOUTH AND WEST
Paithan and Srikakulam two schools of techniques where motifs are not repeated come together on one loom. And Jamdani becomes ever more bountiful in patterns and motifs.
WEST AND NORTH
Banarasi and Paithani, two techniques known for their opulent weaves, come together on one loom. And Jamdani becomes an even more infinite surface for design ideas.
“As a designer, I have often wondered what makes Jamdani such a captivating canvas to so many like me. After 20 years of working with weavers across India, I have found a layered answer. There is, of course, the legacy. In fact, every piece you have seen today is my homage to the past masters who created Jamdani by infusing tradition with a spirit of experimentation. This spirit is perhaps also the reason why Jamdani has so many traditional forms. There is also the skill of our weavers (over 70% of whom are women). We are surrounded by masters who can weave any pattern, no matter how intricate and yet, like true artists, they keep pushing their craft. But there is something else intertwined with all this, that gives real meaning and motivation to both the weaver and me. That something is the presence of those who know what makes Jamdani weave a true masterpiece. In this sense, I believe Jamdani’s future is not very different from its past! In this interlace connected through time and timelessness, I hope you, too, have discovered your own idea of Jamdani’s essence.”