Project LooM

Can you sell a saree for the price of an Hermes bag?

Profile of Darshan Shah of Weaver’s Studio

“We pay thousands of dollars for an Hermes Birkin.  Why can’t we sell this handwoven jamdani that has taken a weaver and his family a year to weave for about the same money?” asks Darshan Shah, founder of Weaver’s Studio, who has worked in the crafts and textiles sector for over 30 years.

Set in a quiet lane, Weavers Studio is a hum of activity.

I am having delicious food in Weaver’s Studio, where the irrepressible Shah is feeding me mishti doi from Mukherjee Sweets and the best dal poori and aloor dum from a neighbourhood dhaba called Tasty Bites.  She presses food on all her guests– Bengali thali for lunch and snacks with chai in the afternoon. Surrounded by exquisite textiles, Shah has just returned from Delhi where she has put up a stunning show of Baluchari weaves at the National Museum (on till March 20, 2019).

The mindboggling diversity of Bengali weaves

Shah feels that she is blessed to be in Bengal with its incredible variety of textiles.  When I ask her how come Bengal cultivated all these various weaving clusters, she suggests that it is a result of its geography.  Watch the video.

A man who wears a saree with flair

As I browse through the sarees and stoles by award-winning weavers, a man in her shop walks up to me and asks me to teach him the saree style that I am wearing.

I tell him that I learned it from Rta Kapur Chishti’s “sari school,” but the man– Tanmoy– is genuinely interested. He pulls out a saree from the rack and asks me to show him.  I do and he follows suit. Soon, there we are, two Indians– a man and a woman– trying on sarees.

Only in Kolkata, I think.

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