Rita Kapur Chishti is a textile scholar and the editor and co-author of a book series called “Saris of India”. The books cover 108 variations across 15 states of the ways that saris can be draped. The trendsetter regarding how urban Indians wear a saree today is a woman, Gyan Nandini Tagore, who is Satyendranath Tagore's wife. She was the first in Mumbai to adopt the Parsi style because the Bengali style was not considered elegant enough, so she drapped the Pallu on her left shoulder and the trend was created.
The past weekend Chishti was at the exhibition of Taanbaan, in Mumbai. She also convinced the Daksha Sheth Dance Company to invent a performance based on the history, culture and skills of the saree and NCPA agreed to hold the production of this project called “Sari”.
The series of books are based on the research she made in the past 25 years. She spent 10 or 12 years to search material for her project and the last 15 years to persuade somebody to publish it.
Her book is important in order to maintain those traditions that are going to be forgotten presently. Every woman around India wore a saree, because it is a comfortable and versatile dress that allows them to move, work and do whatever they need to do. In some parts instead it is used as an identity symbol for special occasions.
Above this a saree represents the craftsmanship typical of Indian culture centred on weaving, thus Chishti is trying to preserve this skills and cornerstone of our traditions. She fears that the new trend of industrially producing saris will lead to abandon the idea of handmade valuable dresses and lose those skills that are transmitted generation after generation by the artisans around the country.
She explained that instead of competing with high industrial production countries, like China, India has to focus its efforts on implementing and helping the manufactural sector in order to turn our disadvantage into an advantage. Thus artisans must be supported through the provision of education and health by the Government, this project started during the 50s 60s but has been abandoned in the last few years. We already lost many varieties of cotton and Tussar silk, so in order to avoid a further decline of handmade textiles, India must sustain its different economy constituted by this sector.
Source: The Tyle Column