Paithani- a poem hand woven in silk and gold

Paithani sari
Paithani-worn by the rich class

It has got its name from the town of its origin – Paithan, which is a town 40 kms away from the city of Aurangabad in the state of Maharashtra. The art of weaving the Paithani flourished in 200 B.C during the Satvahana era. The origin of this weave is an ancient city known as Supratishthapuram indicated in ancient texts in Marathi.A Paithani is passed down from generations to generations as a precious heirloom. Real Paithani is hand woven in silk and gold or silver threads.

Paithani weaveIntricate border and pallu with motifs of a depicting nature area specialty of the Paithani. The Paithani symbolizes auspiciousness because of the use of silk and gold, which is symbolic of purity and considered sacred. The motifs show that man should co-exist in harmony with nature and its elements. A Paithani sari can take anywhere between 2 months to 2 years to get woven. The time taken depends on the design of the Pallu and the borders.

The art of traditional weaving of a Paithani hasn’t changed a bit down the centuries. This makes it even more antique and precious with a great heritage value attached to it. The silk thread that is used in the Paithani is very delicate in nature and has to be handled preciously and very carefully.the silk is dyed in natural dyes procured naturally from leaves,flowers,tree-skins,soils and lamp-soot. Ancient technique of tapestry weaving where warp and weft threads are weaved together using handloom is practiced today which offers the weaver a complete control over every thread and thus makes the Each Paithani sari special and different.The method of interlocking is used when more than one colour is to be used.

A Paithani Weaver
A Paithani Weaver
asawali motif
Asawali Motif of the Paithani credited to the Mughal era

The motifs which are a speciality of the Paithani are usually depicting nature and have been significant and respective to the rulers who gave their patronage to this incredibly beautiful weave.Some of them are the Asawali-a flowing vine motif credited to the Peshwa period.The floral motifs are credited to the Mughal era;especially to Aurangzeb,whose contribution to help this weave flourish is unparalleled.




Bangadi-Mor Motif
Bangadi-Mor Motif


The Bangle-Peacock motif called the ‘Bangadi-Mor,where Bangadi means bangle which is considered auspicious and signifies the completeness of a woman.The Peacock signifies beauty,royalty,wisdom and dignity;it is also believed to be a guardian.The peacock also has the capability to renew its feathers every year signifying a new start in life and is associated with goddess Saraswati who represents love,kindness,knowledge and luck.

Tota-Maina motif represents the parrot who is considered as a sign of love and passion.

Lotus or Kamal Motif
Lotus or Kamal Motif

The Lotus or Kamal motif is derived from the murals of the cave paintings of the Ajanta caves which signifies rebirth and purity.



Paithani sari
A Paithani Sari



The coconut border is very traditional,as the coconut is considered as the fruit of Gods. It symbolises complete usefulness and self-less form of service to be rendered by all mankind to others.

The weavers literally weave a legacy very painstakingly, sometimes foregoing their vision and bones due to sitting for many hours continuously weaving the Paithani.



Long Live The Paithani!




chanderi town
Chanderi-The Town

Chanderi is a town in the Ashok Nagar district of Madhya Pradesh. Since it was a town very strategically placed on the borders of Malwa and Bundelkhand, so it dominated the trade routes of central India as well as to the ancient ports of Gujarat, Malwa, Mewar, Central India and the Deccan. Chanderi then become an important military outpost prized by all the rulers who shaped the destiny of India; be they the Malwa Sultans, the Mughals, the Bundelas or the Scindias. So Chanderi became an important cultural and economic centre of India. It was a beautiful confluence and mix of the different arts, crafts, weaves and traditions which each of the rulers brought along with them.


c saree
Chanderi-The Weave

Chanderi is also very famous for its master weave, which is also known as Chanderi as the town itself. The mention of the Chanderi weave first appeared probably 50 years after its inception. It appeared in the Ain-e-akbari, written by Abul Fazl during Akbar’s reign, talks about the fine weave of Chanderi. It also appeared in Ma’asir-e-Alamgiri written during Aurangzeb’s reign which also does mention of a extremely fine cloth, with gold and silver worked into it. It also states that during the Bundela period, the Chanderi cloth was marked with their seal, which consisted of a crown flanked by prancing lions. This shows that the Chanderi cloth was an antiquity of the handloom industry from the 14th century onwards and was afforded by the royalty only.

Chanderi is produced in 3 fabrics- cotton, silk and silk cotton lately. The raw materials, i.e. cotton, silk thread and zari are imported from other parts of India, as well as from China, Japan and Korea.

Traditionally looms are still used even today as they were in the yesteryears as the primary means of production. These included the pit looms, dobby and jacquard looms.

pit looms
Pit Looms
Dobby Loom
Dobby Loom
Jacquard loom
Jacquard Loom

Chanderi is woven using hand spun cotton warps and wefts. The fabric was woven using very fine hand spun yarn, which accounted for its delicate texture. The Chanderi fabrics are known for their sheer texture, lightweight and glossy transparency. The colours used for dyeing the cloth were always natural ones derived from natural sources. In spite of synthetic colours being used nowadays, natural dyes are still very much in demand.

The shapes /designs woven are called Buttis, which are made by the use of needles. The needles used are in proportion to the number of Buttis woven into the fabric.

See the magical Chanderi being created by the weavers of Chanderi. A film by UNIDO:

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The production of this textile is specific to the town of Chanderi and has been protected by the Indian Government as a Geographic Indication (GI).

The state government has supported this beautiful weave by adopting clusters of weavers,providing financial aid and loans,participating in exhibitions regularly and upgrading the weavers in terms of new designs and better methods of weaving.

We can buy beautiful dupattas,saris and salwar suits made out of the Chanderi weave.

Chanderi dupatta
Chanderi dupatta
Chanderi Saree
Chanderi Sari
Chanderi salwar suit
Chanderi salwar suit

Chanderi is still very much alive as it is one of the most loved weaves in India and outside it too.

Come lets get spell-bound!




jadav payeng
Jadav Payeng


Jadav Payeng – a man with a nondescript look incapable of even garnering a passerby’s first glance at him forget a second one.

BUT do yourself a favour and pause to get introduced to ‘THE JADAV PAYENG’-a 56-year-old hero who single-handedly transformed a barren sandbar into a 1360-acre forest thriving and flourishing with abundant plant and animal life.

Payeng belongs to the Mising tribe of northeast India, which is the second largest ethnic group in Assam after the Bodos. It all started in 1979 when Payeng was all of 16 years old and had chanced upon dead snakes, which were swept on- shore a tree-less sandbar by the devastating floodwaters of the mighty Brahmaputra.

Brahmaputra river
Brahmaputra river

He was heart broken by this episode and he urged and requested the forest department to plant trees, which fell on deaf years. He was told to plant bamboo instead which was a very painstaking job. Nevertheless, he began doing so himself. Around the same year later the Social Forestry department of Golaghat district employed Payeng to work as a labourer on an afforestation project undertaken by them on Aruna sapori (which means an island). This project unfortunately got abandoned after 3 years of its commencement and everyone disappeared from the island. Since he had nowhere to go Payeng stayed back and continued nurturing and planting more trees by himself. He continued doing this for some shocking 30 years without any support or subsidies, fear or favour from anyone.

Due to his remarkable dedication, his efforts paid off. Molai Kathori (Molai is the name by which Payeng is fondly called & Kathori means forest ) as it is known today takes pride in providing a safe haven to the elephants migrating west from Dibrugarh, rhinos escaping the floods of Kaziranga and tigers fleeing the guns of Karbi Anglong. It is densely populated with innumerable trees like the Bamboo, Arjuna, Jamun, Mango, Shimul, Bhelo, Kadam, Amla, Neem and many more.

Molai forest
Molai Kathori
Molai Kathori
Elephant at Molai Kathori
Molai Kathori
Rhino at Molai Kathori
Molai Kathori
The Bengal tiger at Molai Kathori

Payeng stays on this island with his wife Binita, two sons Sanjay and Sanjiv and daughter Moonmooni.They live a life literally devoid of any frills even a basic necessity like electricity; there is no entertainment but yet they lead a very enriched life. They have 50 cows and buffaloes that live and graze in and around the forest. He earns his living from selling the milk that he procures from them.

A brilliant video by of Molai & his Stupendous sanctuary.A film by Ankur Didwania.

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The Jawaharlal Nehru University on earth Day has honoured Jadav Payeng, April 2012,with the title of ‘Forest Man of Assam’. He has also been awarded by the former president Abdul Kalam Azad,in Mumbai. He was also among the 900 specialists who had assembled in France at the 7th global conference of the International Forum for Sustainable Development .He has been honoured by Sanctuary Asia too.


He is not one of those who will rest his laurels and relax; he has taken upon again to himself to transform the barren island of Mekahi into a green haven. He believes that each and every child should be compulsorily taught Environmental Science; that children are the future and our only chance to sustain this beautiful earth and the animals and birds living in it.


Hats off to this unsung hero’s dedication and efforts!



Batik- a dotted world!

batik 1

Batik is should I say a very artful craft which exercises your creativity to its limit as well as teaches you to rightly restrain.

Batik originated it seems in the Far East,Middle East,Central Asia and India maybe 2000 years ago.The exact place of its origin is still a mystery but evidence in the form of silk cloth ascribed with depictions typical to these dynasties shows that Batik was practised in China during the Sui dynasty as well as in Japan during the Nara dynasty.In India, the wall frescoes in the Ajanta caves shows head gears and garments which resemble a Batik design.The same applies to the temple ruins of Java and Bali in Indonesia where figures have been found wearing garments sporting a Batik design.In Egypt,the mummies were wrapped in indigo blue cloth with white patterns on it which is very suggestive of Batik designs!

Although this craft was prevalent in many places,it reached its peak and got the most recognition because of the island of Java in Indonesia where it was practised widely and brilliantly too!

The word Batik originated from the Javanese word ‘Ambatik’ which means a dotted cloth.

It is a very painstaking and an elaborate craft.To make a Batik,usually a silk or a cotton cloth is used which is either white or beige in colour. The length of the procedure depends on the numbers of colours to be incorporated in the design;the more the colours the more lengthy the procedure.

Procedure to get a tricoloured  batik cloth :

Firstly, designs are pencilled onto the cloth and the molten wax (usually beeswax) is applied over the pattern completely with an instrument called Tjantings. Secondly,the cloth is the dyed in its first dye bath of a chosen colour. The cloth gets dyed in that colour except in the places where it has been waxed. Thirdly, the cloth gets waxed again with a lower quality molten wax on the dyed part in the pencilled design. Fourthly ,it gets dyed again in its second dye bath. The areas covered  by the first wax application remain white and the ares covered by the second wax application remain the colour of the first dye bath. Fifthly,the wax is removed from the cloth by immersing it in hot water or or it is scrapped off by applying slight heat to the cloth. In the sixth step,the cloth is again waxed by the artist on the areas which he wants to remain white and then it is immersed in its third dye bath to get the final colour in places required.Lastly, the wax is scrapped off to give you a incredibly beautiful designed piece of art-The Batik cloth!

A Tjanting:It is a Batik tool to outline the designs with wax
A Tjanting:It is a Batik tool to outline the designs with wax










Here below is a link to the making of this beautiful art which has been uploaded by UNESCO:

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UNESCO: Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity – 2009
Description: The techniques, symbolism and culture surrounding hand-dyed cotton and silk garments known as Indonesian Batik permeate the lives of Indonesians from beginning to end: infants are carried in batik slings decorated with symbols designed to bring the child luck, and the dead are shrouded in funerary batik. Clothes with everyday designs are worn regularly in business and academic settings, while special varieties are incorporated into celebrations of marriage and pregnancy and into puppet theatre and other art forms. The garments even play the central role in certain rituals, such as the ceremonial casting of royal batik into a volcano. Batik is dyed by proud craftspeople who draw designs on fabric using dots and lines of hot wax, which resists vegetable and other dyes and therefore allows the artisan to colour selectively by soaking the cloth in one colour, removing the wax with boiling water and repeating if multiple colours are desired. The wide diversity of patterns reflects a variety of influences, ranging from Arabic calligraphy, European bouquets and Chinese phoenixes to Japanese cherry blossoms and Indian or Persian peacocks. Often handed down within families for generations, the craft of batik is intertwined with the cultural identity of the Indonesian people and, through the symbolic meanings of its colours and designs, expresses their creativity and spirituality.
Country(ies): Indonesia
© 2007 by KADIN Indonesia Foundation and Indonesia Batik Museum Institute

By the early 1900s the Germans had developed mass production of batiks. There are many examples of this form of batik as well as hand-produced work in many parts of the world today. Nowadays,in Indonesia too the designs on the cloth are done  on a big scale using big design blocks.Computerisation of batik techniques is a very recent development.

Computerised Batik design
Computerised Batik design
Batik designs done by blocks
Batik designs done by blocks








The essence of this craft is first and fore most is due to its ‘hand-madeness’ which should be respected,treasured and preserved.We can as always do our little bit by encouraging and supporting it by buying hand-made batik cloth.


Incredible Batik !

Incredible Batik






Nature’s gift of incredible colours – Natural Dyes

The art of producing natural dyes is one of the oldest art technique known to humans since ancient of times.

India has been an expert in the natural dyeing technique using natural dyes  procured  from plants, animals and shells since ages. A detailed account is given in the Atharvaveda- one of the four holy Vedas in India.Natural dyes were used as can be seen from the paintings on the walls of the legendary Ajanta and Ellora caves in India.

A painting using natural dyes in the Ajanta caves in Maharashtra.
A painting using natural dyes on the ceiling of the Ellora caves in Maharashtra





The dyes are basically obtained naturally from different parts of  the  plants, animals & shells. The colour produced from the dye plant depends on the season they are picked in. The most intense colour are given by plants when they are in full bloom, like in the early spring.

Since these dyes are naturally obtained they provide important alternatives to synthetic dyes, which have a risk of toxicity, negative influence on the environment and a high allergic potential. Natural dyes are environmental –friendly as well as socially uplifting because locals are employed for its production.

The process of making natural dyes requires adeptness as well as respect towards nature. The plants and their respective parts, which are to be used in the process, are harvested at the right time without hurrying the process through other intrusive methods, which are against nature.

The dyeing process includes 3 steps:

1.The first step is the extraction of the colour matter from the respective plant part, which will yield that colour. Pounding that part and then boiling it in water for 10-20 minutes do the extraction.

2.The second step is to create and establish a strong bond between the colouring matter and the fibre with the help of mordants which are substances used to fix the dye to the fibres of the cloth. They help in better absorption of the dye by the fibres and improve the colourfastness. They are metallic salt of Aluminium, Copper, and Iron etc.; Vegetable dyes require mordants.

3.The third step is to dye the fibres in that respective colour obtained. The fibres are first thoroughly washed and then they are immersed in the dye extract along with the mordant at the required different temperatures for about 30-40 minutes. After this the fibres are squeezed of the excess dye solution and dried naturally.

I would like to share with you a very precise video showing the natural extraction of the Indigo dye  by the locals employed at KMA Exports in south India.Here is the link below:

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‘KMA exports is one of the Oldest and Largest manufacturer of Indigo Dye (Blue Gold) and Indigo leaves & powder (Hair dye). Its been three generations since we started this Indigo business. This traditional method results in producing the purest form of Indigo dye in an eco-friendly manner. Indigofera Tinctoria plant is considered to be very valuable in our Kongarapattu Village, Tamil Nadu, India.”

There are many,many natural resources from which natural dyes are obtained but listed here below are just a few of the plants and animal resources through which they are obtained:

1.The Lac dye which is red in colour is obtained from the residual resinous cocoon of Lacifer Lacca insects. Different shades can be obtained using different mordants like shades of red,purple,olive green and amethyst.

residual laclac dye



2.This is the Harda plant.the dye is made using the fruit of the Harda plant.It gives shades of yellow and grey using different mordants.

harda fruitHYM28KHATRI_3_1771122g

3.The whole plant of indigo ferra tinctoria is used for the extraction of the dye indigo blue

indigo feraindigo blue


4.The bark of the Catechu tree is used in the making of the dye.It gives brown,yellow,grey and black shades.

catechucatechu dye


5.The fruit rind of the pomegranate is used in the making of the dye.It gives us a yellow coloured dye.



6.The Madder plant is one of the oldest source of natural dye. Its red roots are used to extract the dye.You get beautiful shades of red,orange and pink with this dye.


The list is endless.We have been blessed and taken well care of by Mother Nature. All the aspects of our requirements have been well provided by her. It is up to us to care of her in return.

Be thoughtful.Go Natural.

Long Live Incredible hands!



bidri 2

The art of Bidriware today is an purely Indian innovation of an age-old Persian art.It originated in the Deccan region  of southern India which comprised of  parts of the present day states of Karnataka,Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.

bahamani kingdom

Bidar was the epicentre of this craft as it was the once the capital of the Bahamani sultanate which was established by Alauddin Hassan Bahaman Shah  who was possibly of a Tajik-Persian descent. Persian craftsmen used this while doing the forts and palaces of the Bahamani rulers.

The art of Bidri is divided into 3 forms depending on the depth of embedding done on each product and also on the material used for embedding.First form is called the Nashan or deeply cut work,second form is the Zar Nashan which is the raised work and thirdly the Tarkashi which comprises the wire inlay work.

The raw material used is an alloy of zinc,copper and other non-ferrous materials.This alloy is then melted at nearly 800 degrees Fahrenheit.This molten alloy is then poured into a desired mould.You then get a roughly casted piece which is smoothened with filers and sandpaper.

A solution of Copper sulphate is then applied to the cast so as to enable the artist to draw a visible design over it with the help of a sharp metal stylus. After the designing is done,the pattern is engraved by hand using steel chisels.

artist at work
A Bidri artisan at work


The inlaying work is done at this stage which is an extremely intricate process.Silver wires are hammered expertly into the engraved grooves of the design.This cast is then soaked in a solution of sal ammoniac mixed with the soil of the Bidar forts which has special oxidising property.Due to this the zinc-copper alloy background turns into a deep black leaving the silver inlay work intact to contrast incredibly well with the black background.

Finally,coconut oil is applied to give the product a lustrous shine.

The Bidriware range is exhaustive ranging from boxes,vases,goblets,hookahs,jewellery,ashtrays table stationery to animal figures and more…these products are sold extensively through the state owned Cauvery Emporiums at reasonable prices. You will come across many other stores selling Bidri products via online stores too.


sari pins
Sari Pins


It is a beautiful craft which needs to survive for itself and for the many other incredible hands who give it a form and life.Let us support it too.




toy3photo (2)Toy 1 Toy 2

As you travel towards Mysore by road on the Bangalore-Mysore highway, some 60 kms away you will come across a huge big hoarding across the road inviting you to the city of toys, Channapata.

You just cannot miss the shops dotting both the sides of the highway. They seem to be bursting with life with all the brilliantly coloured toys!

Channapata, in its native language Kannada is also called ‘Gombegala Ooru’ which means toys town in English.

 We stopped at one of the shops and were amazed to see the variety of toys. There were dolls, horses, butterflies, and educational learning kits for toddlers, which included abacus, numerals and alphabets too and all beautifully hand crafted in wood. The wooden bangles, belts and necklaces caught my eye; they were unbelievably crafted into different shapes and sizes, which amazed me. The list is really exhaustive! I forgot they crafted furniture too!

 The shopkeeper Kumar informed us that these were made using ‘Doodhi wood’ which was favoured because it is light in colour and hence the colour dyes would be rightly reflected and also this wood could easily carved because of its softness. The dyes used were all vegetable organic dyes- Turmeric is used for the colour yellow, indigo powder for blue, and Kanchi kumkum powder for orange and red colour. So that made these toys very child friendly and safe. The high glossy shine, which the toys imparted, was not due to any varnish being used but the toys were polished with a particular blade of grass, which had the right abrasive qualities.

 This craft form was dying because of onslaught of the Chinese toys in the market but thanks due to the timely intervention of the Karnataka government, designers who supported this craft with designs promising a better utility to the customers and of course the e-commerce websites which sold these incredible toys at competitive rates, which has lead to better tidings to this toy-making industry.

 I bought a few key chains, pen-holders, a belt ,a necklace and bangles before I resumed my journey towards Mysore.