Project LooM

Doyennes of Textiles: Sabita Radhakrishna

Sabita Radhakrishna is a doyenne of textiles.  Her passion is South Indian weaves, specifically Kanchipuram.  She is a woman of many avatars: founder of Amrapali, Chennai’s first boutique, conductor of fashion shows, saree and jewellery designer, writer of plays– her play, the Song of the Loom, about the weaving community was staged by the Madras Players.  She created documentaries about weavers for Doordarshan and has written hundreds of articles about them. She later went on to be an acclaimed author of food-books (they are more than cookbooks).

A true Renaissance woman who follows her calling, Smt. Radhakrishna is widely admired in the weaving community.  Watch her talk about her beloved Kanchipuram sarees here

One of the things Mrs. Radhakrishna mentioned in her talk was how the Child Labour Act of 1986 had done more harm than good for weaver lineages. In weaving households, the loom took center-stage– in the living room. Children were educated but they also played with this device and were asked to help when their little fingers were useful.  Through such osmosis, they absorbed ways of handling the loom and gained an interest in the craft. By expressly preventing children from even touching the loom (weaver families were fined if they were found out), the government effectively cut off such small interactions that led to a lifetime of love for the craft. So the question is: did the Child Labour Act do more harm than good? Well, it is a point of discussion for saree clubs (like book clubs).

More details about this Doyenne of Textiles at her website.

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