Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Bawan Buti saris to be again woven from today

PATNA: Nalanda's famous `Bawan Buti' sari tradition is set for an international makeover with coming together of Delhi-based Asian Heritage
Foundation, aided by the World Bank, and Japan Development Social Fund.

On Wednesday, designer Rita Kapur Chishti, who is the consultant of this project, along with project designers Pradeep Pillai and Hitesh Rawat will be starting the work with the weavers of Basawan Bigha and spinners of Uparanwa village in Nalanda district. All these artists are reaching Nalanda village on Wednesday.

Special series of designs are being prepared under the guidance of Rajeev Sethi, a close associate of the late Rajiv Gandhi, drawing inspiration from the old woven designs of the late Upendra Maharathi. Mahashweta Maharathi is the director of the Bawan Buti Project in Nalanda.

"A unique feature of this project is that the hand spinning tradition is being revived. The goal is to connect the spinners with the weavers, eventually leading to financial independence," Maharathi told TOI.

Sethi, chairman of Asian Heritage Foundation, who personally had visited the villages of weavers in Biharsharif was taken in by the fine weaving style of the area and was crestfallen by the fact that Bawan Buti which was once the pride of the area has ceased to exist.

Recently, Chishti herself an internationally renowned expert in weaving and also the author of the famous book, `Saris of India', visited the Basawan Bigha village with Maharathi.

"Kapur on her part prepared a design on which the master weaver Kapildev of Basawn Bigha worked for months and prepared a few sample saris which were excellently appreciated," Maharathi said.

There was a time when the villages around Nalanda, not only financially supported the ancient Nalanda Mahavihara with its revenue, but also reverberated with the cluttering sound of looms.

It was the region where the Bawan Buti tradition of sari weaving thrived, the only place in whole of Bihar where intricate Butis (motifs) were woven on handloom saris.

As noted artist and craftsperson, late Upendra Maharathi, incessantly worked with the weavers and craftsperson for the revival of the dying tradition of handloom and handicrafts in Bihar, the project is named `Bawan Buti: Upendra Maharathi's tribute to India's Renaissance' as a mark of respect to the genius craftsman in his centenary year.

There was a time when the weavers of Basawan Bigha supplied beautifully patterned handmade curtains and fabrics to Rashtrapati Bhawan. The first president, Dr Rajendra Prasad, took personal interest in this. The weavers still proudly exhibit those designs referring them as Rashtrapati Bhawan designs.

Source : Times of India