If there is one designer who has done more for Chanderi than any other, it is Sanjay Garg and his label, Raw Mango. Highly coveted, Raw Mango sarees added a new design vocabulary to the traditional Chanderi weave. In the ten years of its existence, this label had added its signature look to this town’s weave.
Weaving in Chanderi is divided by caste into Hindu and Muslim weavers. They are Ansaris (Muslims) and Kolis (Hindus).
Raw Mango is supplied by the Hindu Koli weavers: Kishenlal Koli and Bhagwandas Koli, who describe themselves as “master weavers and designers.” The word, Koli comes from Kori, and before that Kora (cloth) and typically refers to a caste of people who weave for a living. The President of India, Ramnath Kovind is a Koli.
Along the way to the Koli weavers shop are sights typical to any Indian village. The painted houses are reminiscent of a Mediterranean town in their blue and green hues. The streets are neat and clean, exuding order and a touch of flamboyance, much like the saree itself. The hues are pastel shades that echo the weave. Patterns on the wall match the cobblestoned streets. Every doorway opens into a loom.
Bangle sellers flaunt their wares. A woman sits under a tree, working with threads and yarn. She wears a bindi. This is the Koli (Hindu) side of town, I guess. When I return, she is still at her spot, engrossed in her hands.
“We sleep but the loom of life never stops, and the pattern which was weaving when the sun went down is weaving when it comes up in the morning.” Henry Ward Beecher.