The red setting sun casts a haze over the Bharatapuzha river as we cross into Pallakaad, Kerala. We are on our way back after a fulfilling, tired day, well spent with our weaver Raju who weaves dreams on our Kerala kasavu sarees.
As we walk along to his weaving shed, the strains of an old Hindi song intermingles with the eons-old clak-clak sound of the hand-operated shuttle fixed to a pit loom.
The Devanga Chettiar caste weavers here are around 120 families and all of them are engaged in the weaving of kasavu(Jari) sarees.Read on for an interesting piece of history and mythology about this community who are one of India’s largest weaving clans spread across South India. Raju’s old uncle narrates the story of how his ancestors were brought here 800 years ago by themaharaja of Mysore for setting up handloom weaving in this village in Kerala. They claim to be descendants of the ancient sage, Devala maharishi. Known as Devangas and Padmashaalis and of brahmanical origin this weaving community trace their nativity to the erstwhile kingdom of Ujjain. The origin of their weaving traditions go back to sage Devala who is believed to have woven the first cotton fabric and and offered it to lord Siva.
Today, the weaving is done by the men, while the women do the dyeing and spinning. Children start assisting in the weaving at an early age.
Shot on a recent trip to kerala, this video has our master weaver who doubles up as a temple priest during temple hours. Seen here, working his loom with the same hands that do the arati at a temple, he is talking about the dimensions of the traditional kerala mundu veshti.
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Conceived as a coming together of the musical and storytelling traditions around the most primaeval of all Indian garments, the saree, Shringaara, a 2 day women’s collective celebrates personal stories and memories.
Ever seen an intricately hand drawn kalamkaari and been mesmerized by its fluid lines and sharp details? It might not surprise you then to know that in ancient times, kalamkaari artisans were known as Jadupatuas or Duari Patuas. This can be translated to ‘magical painters’.