We always talk about crafting stories and finding unique ways to make our voices heard. And yet, for years now in the little lanes of Madhya Pradesh, we've done just that. Weavers, tailors and seamstresses have come together to weave their own stories.
The Chanderi, one of the oldest fabrics, has a fabulous tale to tell. Its advent can be traced to Ala-ud-din-Khilji in the year 1305 AD. Once a favourite amongst royalty, it has now earned the affection of the masses too. The charm of a Chanderi saree lies in its colours that are reflective of nature – fruits, flowers, birds and leaves. Once available only in a natural off-white, today it's the striking pastel shades that add to its beauty.
The DABU is a style still waiting to be discovered by all. The craftsmen of Indore and Jawad use dyes from the very lap of nature to create a distinct look. The motifs and dyes are representative of the craftsmen’s deep respect for nature. The delicate floral patterns are simply exquisite. No wonder, this hand-crafted process has earned a special place amongst fabric connoisseurs across the country.
And then from the 16th century we have the rather exquisite Tussar silk. Also known generically as 'Kota silk', it is valued for its texture and natural gold, which is unusually rich and deep. While historically, Tussar silk has been produced across various states, in Madhya Pradesh, the Devangans have been crafting the silk for generations now. Other silks such as Eri, Mukta and Mulberry are used to provide different textures to add to the aesthetics. Today, Tussar silk is one of the finest fabrics one can own.
The Bagh print has truly stood the test of time, given that the Bagh printers migrated from Pakistan some 1000 years ago. The process of Bagh painting is fairly tedious. The fabric is treated by a special method known as "Khara." It's soaked in natural solutions before it is laid out to dry three times in succession. The distinctive red colour can be attributed to Chiya seeds, Imli and Phitkari. The black colour is prepared using iron fillings and jaggery. And finally the printing is done using wooden blocks. The cloth is then dried for fifteen days, and washed before you get the final product. And yet, when you stare down at the final product, one cannot imagine the effort taken to produce it.
And last but not the least we have the Maheshwari. Apart from the use of Zari and its distinguished patterning, it is known for its use of mercerized cotton, which gives its lustrous quality. In the 19th century, the use of two distinct types of silks in the weave gave birth to the silk sari, a phenomenon of the 80's. When you buy a Maheshwari, make sure it is woven in hand-loom, for a hand-crafted beauty that is guaranteed to become one of your most prized possessions.
When you travel to Madhya Pradesh, take a piece back home in the form of these exquisite weaves, you will get to relive the time again.