Over 300 weavers gathered in Chirala(AP) in November for a 7-day global meet on “Rethinking Indian Industrialization of Crafts”. Organized by REEDS (a Hyderabad-based NGO working with rural communities),Dastakar Andhra and other partners. The conference drew participants from Kutch, J&K, Chhattisgarh, Tripura, Manipur, Nagaland and Sikkim, from every southern state, as well as from Thailand, Taiwan, China and Laos. For some, the journey meant travelling four days and nights -- carrying looms and spinning wheels. A weavers’ camp, with exhibition and work spaces, was set up under trees and shelters at a local school, drawing the local community into what was perhaps a first:so many weavers coming together in India to share knowledge and hope. Indigo vats were installed by Indian and Thai dyers. An exhibition of khadi products by Registry of Sarees displayed 200 years of experience. Curator Mayank and his team from Delhi brought 24 pieces of exquisite fabric gathered from across the country. Translators and scholars were on hand as workshops and discussion reflected the enormous capacity of artisans to communicate and absorb from one another across barriers. An Andhra weaver was seen learning intricate weaving techniques from Laos. Another from Chhattisgarh overcame problems in dyeing nettle yarn from Uttarakhand through his exchanges with Jagada Rajappa (Hyderabad) and weaver Tang Wen Chun (Taiwan), while a contingent from Kutch demonstrated the importance of wool within the handloom scenario.
‘Old’ as the ‘new-new’ and other findings
As a year of meticulous planning unfolded effortlessly,Chirala’s magnificent seashore was always in sight to remind one of the timeless scale of human ingenuity. Weaver-to-weaver interactions offered a ‘reality show’context to two days of discussions that followed, bringing scholars and weavers from around the globe together on issues of craft and pedagogy, law, labour, livelihoods and future directions....
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