Exhibition on Indian textiles celebrated khadi and its rich history

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A look at handloom saris created over two decades ago

Large drapes of khadi saris were carefully hung on bare walls, across wooden structures and suspended from the ceiling at Bangalore International Centre as part of Meanings, Metaphor – Handspun and Handwoven in the 21st century. On display from March 31st to April 6th, the exhibition aimed to create dialogue around India’s rich handloom tradition.

Interestingly, the fabrics and saris presented at the exhibition were first commissioned for Khadi – The Fabric of Freedom, a series curated by the late Martand Singh, affectionately known as ‘Mapu’.  It was developed by textile experts such as Rta Kapur Chisti, Rahul Jain and Rakesh Thakore.

Now, a large part of this collection is acquired by Bangalore-based The Registry of Sarees, which also provided a home to these masterpieces. The collection provides an insight into Mapu’s interest and involvement with Indian textiles.

At that time, the exhibition travelled to New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata. Along with this, a collection of 108 distinct fabrics was sourced from across the country – handloom centres that produced handspun yarns from the charkha – for this exhibition.

The ‘Swadeshi Movement connect

During India’s freedom struggle, Mahatma Gandhi collected money from different sections of society to create a grass-roots organisation to encourage handloom weaving – this was called the ‘khaddar’ or ‘Khadi’ movement. This movement promoted a socio-cultural narrative that called upon Indians to be self-reliant on cotton. Gandhi also took to spinning with a Charkha and promoted khadi for rural self-employment.

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