A new handloom weaving style has developed in Fulia, West Bengal over the last year or so. The main feature of this style is synthesis – of yarns, weaving techniques, and textures. The predominance of recurrent motifs – traditional or nouveau – is markedly absent in these handloom sarees. Instead, the emphasis is on colour and feel.
Ghicha and mulberry silk; tassar and matka; cotton and noil – the possibilities are endless. Master weavers of Fulia have experimented with permutations and combinations of yarn, creating mind-boggling textures. The range of creativity that is the hallmark of Bengal handloom sarees is amply showcased in the new school.
A unique feature of the new style is some bold Jamdani work in non-traditional themes in the pallu. Literally the icing on the cake, this exquisite Jamdani weave creates stunning contrast to the texture of the saree. Jamdani or “woven embroidery” is the purest form of handloom, depending solely on the skill of the weaver, and it takes the saree to another level.
For the patron, it is an incredible experience.
For one familiar with the intricacies of handloom weaving, it is practically inconceivable that such an amount of effort can be given to weave six yards of magic.
Roots in the soil
It’s a humbling experience for a textile designer like yours truly. For this silent revolution of avant-garde weaving was not brought about by urban professional designers, but by master weavers in the Fulia region. The evolution of these extremely striking sarees once again brought to the fore the fact that it’s the inherent creative genius and innovative spirit of Bengal’s master weavers that reinvents time and again the grace and beauty of the exquisite Bengal handloom saree.
Urban vs. rural
In terms of design/layout, the rustic charm of vivid yet aesthetic colour palettes scores time and again over the sober and sophisticated colour schemes preferred by the urban fashionista. As always, the wild rush of creativity of the sons (and daughters) of the soil is gradually tamed by the urbane tastes and sensibilities (and the deeper pockets necessarily attached to them).
The result is a combination of weaving magic that leaves everyone mesmerized.
Fashion biggies borrow from them, and add their own signature style as they modify and improvise, mix and match, embellish and add value.
The whole cycle plays out for may be five years or so, till the Bengal handloom saree weaver churns out yet another mind-boggling innovation that sets off an identical chain of events.
We are in the middle of one such cycle.