Ruby Palchoudhuri’s abiding contribution to the revival of the traditional Baluchari lies in her pioneering efforts to work with Kallu Hafiz to create the technical infrastructure to revive the jala weave. This nostalgic piece is all about her encounters with the magnificent women with their fabulous collections and, of course, her experiences with Kallu Hafiz.
It was Mitul Ghatak, my classmate at the Government College of Arts and Crafts, who led me into the wondrous world of the Baluchari weave. Mitul, sister of the famous Mahasweta Devi, showed me a Baluchari sari belonging to her Mother. I had never seen anything so beautifully intricate before. The sisters' engagement with the Baluchari began when their father was posted in Murshidabad. This was an illustrious family with celebrated artists and poets, among others, Ritwick Ghatak, the famous film-maker.
If the first encounter was charming, there was much more to come because I was to encounter the magnificent Mme Krishna Riboud in the early 1940s in London in her purple butidar masterpiece. Thus was stoked my love affair with the Baluchari, with its delectable designs, in the softest of silken rustle, that continues till today.
Krishna Riboud, whos...