Silk Mark Pilgrimage – Gharchola

All about gharchola

Gharchola sarees are traditionally made in the Khambhat region of Gujarat. Literally translated, gharchola means women’s house wear. However, that’s a bit of a misnomer, as they are often worn during weddings, religious ceremonies, and other occasions. The entire body of such a saree is has checkered patterns, with beautiful tie and dye (bandhani) designs within them.

A typical gharchola saree is marked by the large zari checks – 12 section patterns are called ’bar bagh,’ and the 52 section patterns are known as ’baavan bagh.’ Each square encloses a motif, most commonly elephants, dolls, peacocks, human figures, and flowers. When the saree incorporates more than two colours, the design is known as ‘phulwari,’ which means garden. If the saree is dominated by animal motifs, it is called a ‘shikari’ design, which translates to hunter motif.

There are two types of gharchola sarees available – those which use gold thread for the zari work, and those that use plain thread. Predictably, the sarees that incorporate gold zari designs are relatively expensive, and are usually worn by the more affluent members of society. Gharcholas are primarily red, with yellow and white dots, although green gharchola sarees are also made on customer request.

Khambhat – the home of the gharchola saree

Khambhat, part of the Anand district in Gujarat, was once the capital of Cambay State, a princely state of British India. In its prime, Khambhat was a flourishing city that served as a major port and trading centre. Unfortunately, the city’s harbour gradually silted up, resulting in the death of its maritime trade. The only industries that survive today are handloom weaving and the cutting and polishing of precious and semi-precious stones. Only 300 weavers and their families, equipped with 200 pit and frame looms, keep the tradition of making gharchola sarees alive.

The making of a gharchola saree is a complicated and time intensive process. It takes the weaver approximately a week to arrange the loom and complete all the necessary preparations, and another six days or so to complete the weaving. If the saree is to have a double checkered pattern, the weaving process could take up to 12 days. If it’s a plain body weave, the weaving process takes only around three days.

While the weaving and tying work is done in Khambhat, the sarees are sometimes sent to Jamnagar for dyeing and block printing, where the superior water quality allows for brighter and better colour shades. While the art of making gharchola sarees originated in Khambhat, the practice has now spread to other clusters like Joravarnagar and Kataria, in the Surendranagar district.

Saving the gharchola

The demand for gharchola sarees is gradually declining. This is due to a combination of factors like lack of market promotion, design development, and product diversification. In addition to this, the use of duplicate silk yarn, and stiff competition from the more intricately designed Benarasi sarees also play a part in the decline in demand.

Despite all of this, gharchola sarees are still a vital part of many ceremonies, and maintain their symbolic value. The need of the hour is to extend encouragement and support to the weavers who are keen to produce sarees with newer and more attractive designs. There are various central and state sponsored schemes available to offer support, but widespread awareness is lacking.

The Gujarat State Handloom and Handicraft Development Corporation has conducted a diagnostic study of the Khambhat area, and is extending support under the Cluster Development Programme to help save this art form of saree-making. Central Silk Board, Ministry of Textiles, Govt. of India has various schemes for the weaving and wet processing sector, and an awareness programme was organised at Khambhat to explain them. Schemes like Loom Upgradation, CATD, and Yarn Dyeing would definitely boost the

 

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The importance of authenticity in silk

How SMOI continues to maintain silk quality

The Chinese were the first to create silk under the tutelage of their Queen, who discovered the fabric when she accidentally dropped a silkworm cocoon in her steaming pot of jasmine tea. The first length of silk is said to be created as early as 6000 B.C. and since then, people from all across the globe have been captivated by the wondrous sheen and texture of the material. Having opened eyes to a new market, the Chinese also actively utilized their silk route as a conduit of cultural transmission, regularly linking traders, merchants, pilgrims, monks, urban dwellers and adventurers moving from China to the Mediterranean Sea.

Much like the rest of the world, India too became quite obsessed with silk. Today, silk continues to be one of the most popular materials worn across the subcontinent. In Indian religion and culture, silk has acquired a place of inviolable dignity. Some sacred Hindu rituals and ceremonies can’t be performed without white silk dhotis. Christian and Muslim weddings often present the bride (and family) with heavy silk saris as compliments. Ranging from the brocades of Banaras to the ikats of Orissa, from the patolas of Gujarat to the bandhej of Kutch, not forgetting the great Kancheepuram temple silks of Tamil Nadu, or the intricately poetic Paithani from Maharashtra, India has a place for itself in the silk world.

Within India, all varieties of commercially produced silk, mainly Mulberry, Tassar and Eri, are available. The protein filament that is secreted by silkworm caterpillars, are known for their natural sheen and inherent affinity for rich colours. It is light weight, a poor heat conductor, has low static current generation, is resilient and drapes excellently, making it a designers’ dream.

However, the biggest issue that most consumers face is whether the silk that we purchase is indeed genuine silk. In India, the Silk Mark Organisation of India certifies the authenticity of silk with a guaranteed label on the silk product, proving its quality. In addition, consumers are encouraged to test the genuineness of the material at any Silk Mark Chapter completely free of cost. SMOI insists that retailers and showrooms carry the authentic material with the label proving the quality of the silk, in order to avoid any legal disputes that may arise as a result of selling non-silk products as genuine silk products. If SMOI finds that a product that is not pure silk has been sold as 100% natural silk, it initiates action under the User Agreement leading to termination of membership.

Despite the Silk Mark scheme only entering its fifth year of service, as compared to the 45-year old WoolMark, the organization hopes to establish noted credibility among customers and enroll more authorised retailers from across the country.

 

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Indian Silk

The Amazing World of Indian Silk

The Wondrous Fibre of India

Silk is the most revered and valued fibre of all the textile fibres in India. In India, silk is considered to be pure and holy, and no religious function is complete without the use of silk. All religious scriptures of Hinduism, Islam, Christianity or Buddhism do find a mention about silk, connecting this holy fibre to their eschatology.

India has been the land of ancient civilizations and has contributed many things to the world, silk being one of them. Silk is a glorious gift of nature. With its rich heritage, assorted influences and a dynamic legacy of art, culture and traditions, Indian Silk has inherited some of the most finely crafted marvels of the world. Indian Silk has a global appeal because the soul and warmth of the culture is wrapped within the Indian designs. Indian Silk, with the perception of ‘looking good & feeling great’, undoubtedly is the nature’s performance fibre.

Some believe that Indian Himalayas is the homeland of silk, which was on the fabled silk route which stretched 6000 miles across the heartland of Asia from China to the Mediterranean. In the later days, princely rulers like the Tipu Sultan of Mysore encouraged silk cultivation in India. Bengal region of India saw a boost in silk production during the British era due to the increased demand from parachute industry during World War II. India’s rich and versatile silk culture is deep rooted, closely blended to the ethos and heritage of each silk producing cluster.  The marvel of Indian Silk handcrafted by the traditional artisans of the respective clusters is unique and simply unmatched.

 

India, the Biggest Consumer of Silk

India, besides being a silk producer, is also an importer, exporter and consumer of silk. India is the second largest silk producer and is also the largest consumer in the world. The demand and supply position is tilted to such an extent that India needs to import sizable quantity of raw silk to meet the domestic requirement. The saree industry consumes the lion’s share of the country’s domestic production of silk that is almost to the tune of 75%. While the traditional sarees are woven in handlooms, there are a few light weight varieties, plain and printed, being woven in power-looms. Other items in production are dress materials, made-ups, ready-made garments, scarves and stoles, carpets and home furnishings.

 

Indian Silk – Embraced across the World

Indian Silk has aroused global interest since decades. This has swayed the design and fashion industries where elements of stylized motifs, colours and intricate designs have been an inspiration. Over the years, Indian Silk has carved out a niche market, the principal buyers being US and Europe. Although the traditional designs and value-added embroidered items form the thrust area, the export basket includes, dress materials, sarees, scarves, made-ups, ready-made garments and carpets. Dupions of Bangalore, Matka silks of Malda, Tasar silks of Bhagalpur are the sought after silk materials for the European market. With global fashion influencing India and India influencing the global trends, one can see a reciprocal movement of fashion trends that is only going to become stronger in the current globalised environment.

Indian Silk with a Humane Face

Silk cultivation called sericulture is practiced as a cottage industry in India, spread over to 59,000 villages covering over 25 states. As the developed countries have almost withdrawn from the active silk production due to industrialization and urbanization, India continues to encourage sericulture as a tool for rural employment and poverty alleviation. This labour intensive industry provides gainful employment to more than seven million people, women constituting over 60%. Sericulture is finely blended with the country’s heritage and plays an important role in the socio-economic growth by providing millions of jobs to the weaker sections of the society.

 

Indian Silk – Unique in it’s Diversity

India is the only country that produces all the four commercially known varieties of silks viz: Mulberry, Eri, Tasar and Muga, each one distinctly different from one another in terms of texture, feel and colour. India is home to some of the most exotic and wide ranging silks in the world, thanks to the endless varieties of handspun yarns available in each of the above four varieties of silks.

Mulberry Silk

Of all the silk varieties available in India, mulberry is the most popular and most commonly known form of natural silk. Mulberry silk is light with a natural sheen and a smooth feel constituting about 85% of the total silk production in the country. Silk is light but strong, smooth and soft, and superbly adaptable. When worn or draped, its fluidity is spellbound. It can be dyed subtle or bold as it is rich in affinity to dyes and hence is a dyer’s delight. The special magic of silk comes from its interaction with light, which it refracts in a way similar to objects found in nature like pearls and sea-shells.

Vanya Silks

India’s Wild silks, Tasar, Eri and Muga, now being branded as Vanya silk, reflect the exotic and untamed spirit of wild silk worm in texture, feel, sheen and colour. The silk that is closest to the nature has inspired designers to create distinct fashion statements in clothing and home décor.

Vanya silks portray the rich crafts, culture and folklore of the North-Eastern and tribal zones of Central and Eastern India. Collecting wild cocoons from the forest, reeling silk threads from cocoons and hand weaving of silk clothes have given the source of livelihood to the tribal and other weaker sections of the society.

Tasar

The Tropical or Indian Tasar silks are highly textured and has a dull, uneven sheen and can be dyed in a number of colours and easily blended with other fibres. An array of handspun yarns like Gicha, Katia, Jhuri besides the reeled silk goes in the making of a spectrum of fashion fabrics and finds its way to the export market. Among the Vanya silks, Tasar silk tops in the export basket.

 

Eri

Eri silk rearing is purely a traditional and a leisure time avocation of the tribal population of Assam numbering around 1.30 lakhs. Eri having very high thermal properties, the culture is practiced to meet the partial need of warm clothing. Moreover, eri pupae are a popular delicacy among the tribal population of Assam.

 

Muga

Muga, the shimmering golden silk of India is used in its natural colour.  This magnificent, exclusive silk of India which no other country possesses is cultivated mostly in the high humidity regions of Assam and Cooch Behar areas of West Bengal. With its limited production, Muga is hot with the home décor and fashion designers across the globe and commands highest premium amongst all silks.

 

Silk Weaving Clusters

Indian Textiles have a range of techniques and design variations distinct to each of the weaving clusters determined by geographical factors, cultural influences, climate, etc.

 

Silk Weaving Clusters at a Glance

 

Indian state Silk Weaving Cluster Popular Silk Products
Karnataka Bangalore Plain silk, dupion, crepe, organza, hand woven zari sarees, printed sarees
Mysore Crepe and printed sarees
Kollegal Plain fabrics and handloom sarees
Ilekal Hand woven zari sarees
Moolakalmooru Hand woven zari sarees
Andhra Pradesh Dharmavaram Hand woven zari sarees of wedding and festive class
Pochampalli Typical style of pochampally sarees of wedding and festive class
Venkatagiri Venkatagiri handloom sarees
Tamil Nadu Kanchipuram World famous zari woven sarees, dhotis and angavastras, wedding and festive styles
Arni Zari woven sarees
Thirubuvanam Zari woven sarees
Uttar Pradesh Varanasi Renowned banarasi zari woven sarees of intricate designs, wedding and festive class
Mubarakpur Hand woven zari sarees similar to banaras sarees
West Bengal Murshidabad Plain silk fabrics and sarees of lighter weight
Baluchari Mulberry silk sarees
Bihar Bhagalpur Wide range of tasar and mixed silk varieties
Maharashtra Paithan Renowned paithani sarees of golden zari with floral and animal motifs
Bhandara Tasar and mix-silk fabrics of all range
Yeola Plain silk fabrics and sarees
J & K Srinagar Tabby silk fabrics and printed sarees
Gujarat Patola Handloom mulberry silk sarees
Madhya Pradesh Maheshwari Classic maheswari handloom sarees
Chanderi Tasar silk varieties
Orissa Naupatna Export varieties of tasar and matka silks
Chattisgarh Champa Tasar silk varieties
Assam Sualkuchi Traditional handloom silk sarees and chaddars with typical colour scheme of eri and muga varieties

Banarasi Sarees – Epics Interwoven

Banarasi saree, acclaimed the world over, is famous for its royal look and rich feel.  Woven with intricate designs using jacquard looms with pleasing colours and contrast borders, Banarasi brocades become the natural choice for wedding and festive occasions.

Kancheepuram – Alluring & Exotic

A typical Kancheepuram silk saree is known for its distinguishable characteristics of heavy silk with classic colours and rich zari woven pallu and border using koruvai technique. Woven on heavy lustrous filature silk in warp and charka silk in weft, usually with contrasting borders and fabulous pallus of intricate designs, the Kancheepuram sarees with its rich golden ornamentation is made to last a life time or more.

Paithanis – A Poetic Marvel

The very name conjures up reminiscence of Mugal art. For centuries, the paithani saree with its golden zari formed part of the bridal trousseau. Beautifully crafted, this nine yard wonder with an exquisite pure gold zari border and pallu boasts of ‘Karigars’ specializing in weaving the lotus and other motifs inspired by murals from nearby Ajanta.

Baluchari – The Bengal’s Pride

The origin of Baluchari saree is stated to be in a small village called Baluchar situated in the bank of river Bhagirathi in Murshidabad district of West Bengal. Baluchari sarees are known for its fabulous pallu with large flowing Kalka motifs in the centre surrounded by narrow ornamental borders depicting ancient stories using silver zari.

Nakshi Kanta – Amazing Handcraft of Bengal

Nakshi Kanta is a part of the cultural heritage of rural Bengal and is a centuries old tradition of folklore embroidery art. These sarees are embroidered with Kanthas along with motifs taken from folklore and mythological stories using elaborate running stitches producing enchanting designs.

Champa – Awesome Tassar

Champa is one the biggest centre for weaving of tasar silk fabrics in the country. Dress materials, fashion accessories, home furnishing made-ups, sarees, scarves and stoles in tasar silk from here are very popular.

Pochampally Sarees – Delight of Fine Craftsmanship

Pochampally sarees are handcrafted to perfection by skilled artisans who are endowed with critical skills in intricate designs based on Ikats. These sarees are perfectly reversible with the same appearance of the design in the same intensity. Weaving of intricately designed sarees can take up to three to four months.

 

Chanderi and Maheswari – Ethnic wonder

Chanderi Sarees are known  for transparency, translucency because of kora silk in warp and weft, usually Ashraffy buti. Famous traditional designs are: Hazaar buti, Ashraffy saree, Jangla design saree, Addedar saree, Ugata Suraj saree and Mehandi Rachi Hath saree.

Bhagalapur – DazzlingTassar

The major product mix being produced in Bhagalpur include silk dress material, sarees, salwar suits, dupatta, bed sheets, scarves, runners, etc. The tasar silk sarees and furnishing materials produced in Bhagalpur are popular both in the domestic as well as in international markets.

Sualkuchi – Jewel in the Crown

This cluster specializes in the weaving of the golden muga silk and eri fabrics. Mekhla Chadar sarees and dress materials are the most sought after silk products of Sualkuchi.

 

Dharmavaram – Spectacular Weaves

Dharmavaram silk sarees are famous for its broad solid colored borders with contrast pallu woven with brocaded gold patterns. Simpler patterns for everyday use have the specialty of being woven in two colours which give an effect of muted double shades accentuated by the solid color border and pallu. The muted colours, the double shades create a total different effect that adds a striking appeal to the saree.

Central Silk Board – The Apex body for silk in India

The Central Silk Board is the apex body for the development of sericulture and silk industry in the country and is in the forefront of development of these sectors for over 65 years. The role of Central Silk Board encompasses Planning & Monitoring the developmental schemes in the country, Research and Development, encouraging scientific, technological and economic research for improving the production and productivity, creating greater opportunities for gainful employment and improving the levels of income of sericulturists and silk manufacturers.

India Takes the Lead with Silk Mark

The high demand of silk has led to serious distortions and malpractices in the silk value chain. Adulteration with lookalike fibres like Nylon, Rayon, Viscose, Polyester, etc., which may be hardly 10% of the cost of pure silk, is rampant.  It is very difficult for the consumers to detect the same and therefore these products are passed on as pure silk, thus depriving the consumers the real value and the livelihood of the stakeholders. This menace continues unabated in all silk consuming countries. The absence of a quality mark for silk either from the international organisations or by the silk producing countries was felt for a long time. India took the lead by launching Silk Mark Organisation of India (SMOI) in 2004 with the twin objectives of Consumer Protection and Generic Promotion of silk.

 

Silk Mark Organisation of India (SMOI) is a registered Society under Karnataka Society Act 1960 is an initiative by Central Silk Board, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India. SMOI has competent Textile Technologists, who are well experienced in Silk Industry and Trade. SMOI is headquartered in Bangalore and has thirteen Silk Mark Chapters located strategically in and around the silk clusters of the country.

Over the years the institution has evolved and spearheaded awareness among consumers. There are more than 2800 Authorised Users of Silk Mark and more than 22 million Silk Mark labelled products are already in use.

 

Surveillance

The Silk Mark operation is monitored by a two-tier surveillance system – one by the in-house surveillance team of Silk Mark and another by an independent third-party surveillance team. The Silk Mark team takes up series of surveillance measures by visiting the Authorised Users and conducting on the spot purity tests on the Silk Mark labeled products. The team conducts tests on silk mark labeled products through their testing laboratories in major cities and silk manufacturing and marketing clusters throughout India. On the other hand, an Independent third-party team makes surprise checks and conduct surveillance audit on the Silk Mark operation. Consumers are thus assured of the credibility in Silk Mark products.

 

Silk Mark – The Label of Purity

The Silk Mark label is provided only to Authorised Users, who are manufacturers and Retailers of pure silk and are authenticated to use the tag only on genuine silk products. The Authorised Users are given extensive training in identification of pure silk, use of Silk Mark and in accountability to the label usage.

Silk Mark Expos – Epicenter Unleashing the Silk Mark Potential

In order to enable consumers to source pure silk products from different silk clusters of the country and also to provide a platform to Authorised Users to promote their pure silk products, the SMOI conducts series of Silk Mark Expos in various cities across the country.  These expos provide an opportunity for the silk lovers to get a range of silk products of different weaving clusters under one roof. Thus, Silk Mark Expo has come to establish as an excellent platform for the manufacturers and weavers to showcase and sell their products directly to the consumers besides being a powerful tool for the promotion of Silk Mark.

 

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Export Made Easy – II

EXPORT MADE EASY!

HOW TO START AND EXCEL IN YOUR EXPORTS AND MAKE OPTIMUM OUT OF EXPORT PROMOTION SCHEMES

[Question and answer format of this article on Exports appeared in one of the issues of Silk Mark Vogue. The author is Shri. Ajay Srivastava ITS, Director (Ministry of Commerce, Govt. of India), a renowned expert on foreign trade]

I need to obtain cheapest raw material for producing export goods. What are the schemes available for competitive sourcing of raw materials for use in export production?

Advance Authorisation, DEPB and Duty Drawback  schemes are major Duty Exemption and Remission schemes for competitive sourcing of raw materials used for export production. These are time tested schemes used by majority of exporters. Reference: Para 4.1 of Foreign Trade Policy (2009-14)

What are the basics of Advance Authorisation Scheme?

Advance Authorisation enables an exporter to import duty-free  inputs required for export production well in advance. The duty free inputs are allowed as per norms fixed by DGFT. The Standard Input Output Norms for appox. 7000 items have already been notified for this purpose.

Such Authorisation carry an export obligation to be fulfilled over a specified period. Advance Authorisations are issued for physical export, Intermediate supplies and Deemed exports. Advance licenses are issued on the basis of annual requirement for export supplies. This enables the exporter to plan out his manufacturing/export programme on long term basis.

Do I have to pay antidumping duty if I am importing under the Advance Authorisations? What import duties are exempted from payment under the AA scheme?

If you are importing under Advance Authorisations,  imports are exempted from payment of:

  • Basic Custom duty
  • Additional custom duty
  • Educational cess
  • Anti-dumping duty
  • Safeguard duty, if any

However, imports for supplies covered under Para 8.2(h) & (i) will not be exempted from payment of applicable anti-dumping and safeguard duty, if any.

Reference: Para 4.1.4 of Foreign Trade Policy (2009-14)

What category of items cannot be exported under the Advance Authorisation?

Prohibited items of export mentioned in ITC (HS) cannot be exported under the AA scheme. Restricted items can be exported; however the exporter shall be subject to conditionality prescribed under Schedule II of ITC (HS)

Reference: Para 4.1.13 of Foreign Trade Policy (2009-14)

What are the various Export Promotion schemes under which exporters can avail considerable benefits against their exports? Please provide a list of all major schemes at one place.

The major Export Promotion schemes provided by the Exim policy under which exporters can avail benefits are listed below:

 

Sr. No Category Purpose/Availability Scheme
1 Scheme for sourcing raw material Scheme for import of raw material
  1. Advance Authorisation scheme
  2. Duty-free import authorisation (DFIA)

 

    Schemes for neutralization/refund of duties paid
  1. Duty Entitlement Pass-book (DEPB) scheme
  2. Drawback scheme
2 Scheme for importing capital goods All sectors requiring capital goods
  1. Export Promotion Capital (EPCG) scheme
3 Scheme for specific sectors Diamond, gold sector
  1. Gem & Jewelry Export Promotion scheme
    Service sector
  1. Served From India scheme (SFIS)
    Agriculture and village industry sector
  1. Vishesh Krishi and Gram Udyog Yojana (VKGUY)
  2. Scheme for import of capital goods for the Agriculture product exports
  3. Agriculture Export development schemes implemented by APEDA
    Small scale sector
  1. Schemes for Assistance to the micro and small enterprises (MSEs)
4 Scheme for specific product & markets Available to notified products and markets
  1. Focus Market Scheme (FMS)
  2. Focus Product Scheme (FPS)
  3. Market Linked Focus Product scheme
5 Schemes for supplies within the country Available to eligible supplies
  1. Deemed exports
6 Special Enclave for exports Dominant portion of production must be exported
  1. Special Economic Zones (SEZ)
  2. 100% Export Oriented Units (EOU)
7 Special export promotion schemes Recognition of exporters based on performance
  1. Recognition of exporters as Export, Trading Houses
  2. Status Holders Incentive Scrip
    Schemes for market development related assistance like providing money for participation in overseas exhibitions
  1. Market Development Assistance (MDA) scheme implemented by Department of Commerce
  2. SSI-MDA scheme for SSI Exporters
    Scheme for providing assistance for export efforts through projects and studies, fighting legal cases etc.
  1. Market Access Initiative (MAI)
    Scheme for export related infrastructure development
  1. Assistance to states for infrastructure Development of Export (ASIDE)
    Schemes for promoting export clusters
  1. Towns of Export Excellence (TEE)
    Scheme for complying pre-shipment, quality requirements
  1. Pre-shipment inspection
8 Duty Free Import entitlements Scheme for allowing duty free imports based on past year’s export performance
  1. Scheme available for specified priority sectors
9 Customs & Excise duty exemption Scheme for allowing duty free imports for use in specific sectors Notified through the customs and Excise notifications every year
10 Interest rate Subvention To Make money available at concessional rate Schemes run by Commercial Banks under the parameters provided by the RBI
11 Special Schemes for    
12 Special schemes for Infrastructural development or Technological upgradation Schemes available to special sectors and implemented by concerned administrative ministries Schemes for Apparel Park, Leather Park
       
       

 

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Exports Made Easy

EXPORT MADE EASY!

HOW TO START AND EXCEL IN YOUR EXPORTS AND MAKE OPTIMUM OUT OF EXPORT PROMOTION SCHEMES

[Question and answer format of this article on Exports appeared in one of the issues of Silk Mark Vogue. The author is Shri. Ajay Srivastava ITS, Director (Ministry of Commerce, Govt. of India), a renowned expert on foreign trade]

START UP TOOLS FOR EXPORTS

I am happy selling in domestic market. Why should I enter in Export business?

There is a strong reason. As customs duties are coming down and country is signing a number of Free Trade Agreements, there will be intense competition from foreign companies for Indian market. Unless you benchmark quality and pricing with international standards, you risk losing your domestic business. Thus, in order to survive in the domestic market you must be able to compete globally. In addition, exports bring money, expertise and prestige to your firm.

 

I do not have the sufficient knowledge, resources, people and expertise for international trading. It’s a complex job. How do I go about it?

 

You have the product expertise – the most important knowledge you require. Rest of the skills can be outsourced or better still, learned.You can learn through a number of good websites or books. You will be amazed to know there are thousands of 1-2 people export firms in the world that focus on getting high quality product and market and outsource other function to the experts. Otherwise to begin with, you can involve a merchant exporter at mutually beneficial terms, who will export the goods supplied by you.

 

Exporting involves dealing with unknown buyers; I may not get my money back. What is your advice?

Money is almost 100% assured in export and imports if one follows certain rules like exporting under irrevocable L/C. In addition back up is provided by export Insurance. There are established rules for doing international business. You just need to acquaint yourself.

 

I am starting my export business.What registrations do I require for exporting?

You need to complete the following start up formalities for commencing export.

 

  1. Open a Current Account: The bank should be authorised to deal in foreign exchange
  2. Shop & Establishment Act Regn: Though exports are exempt from local taxes, a registration will take care of local content of your business
  3. Excise Regn: No need for registration by merchant exporters. However Rule 174 of central Excise prescribes registration for manufacturers
  4. Sales Tax Regn: Export goods are free from sales tax. However, require registration with the local sales tax authorities for purchasing goods from manufacturers, local traders etc.
  5. PAN Number: Permanent Account Number has been made compulsory for the firm’s aspiring to start export business. Thus even if your turn over is zero and no taxes to pay you have to obtain PAN.
  6. Import Export Code number: IE code is a permanent number granted by DGFT. You require a PAN no & a bank account to apply for IE code.

 

What are the steps involved in exporting a product; please give an overview of a typical export cycle?

Ten steps involved in a typical export cycle are:

 

  1. Receipt of a trde enquiry
  2. Responding to enquiry by sending your offer quotation or proforma invoice
  3. Firm order confirmation from the buyer
  4. Scrutiny of order for discrerpancies in L/C and other trade terms
  5. Confirm order acceptance to overseas buyer
  6. Source the goods from factory or from market
  7. Give necessary documents to Custom House Agent for custom clearance
  8. Transport the goods to docs & after port formalities ship the goods
  9. Submit complete shipment documents to Bank for receiving money
  10. Claim Govt. incentives

 

What are the essential areas of export trade that I must master to become a successful exporter?

The vital areas in export trade are:

  1. Develop essential trade knowledge
  2. Develop product & market intelligence
  3. Choose the best suppliers and service providers
  4. Obtain necessary registrations
  5. Identify potential buyers of your product
  6. Reduce cost of transaction in shipping, customs, travel etc.
  7. Identify mega potential products that are just suitable for you
  8. Maximising your return by identifying most appropriate export promotion schemes for your product
  9. In case of doubt, talk to experts

 

I have an order for supplying 400 gents shirts to a buyer based in Canada who offered me to pay in FOB terms. DEPB on this item is @ 10%. I must get 30% as profit on the Ex factory cost of the products. What is the minimum FOB I should quote to the buyer?

 

You have to add up your costs and profit and find out the minimum FOB value by taking into account the DEPB available to you. Following steps will make the calculation clear:

Sr. No Heads Amount Criteria
A Let’s assume that minimum acceptable FOB price in Rupees is A
B DEPB/Drawback @ 10% Rs 10,000 10% of A
C Minimum money that must be realised 1.1A A+0.1A
D Ex factory cost of shirts Rs 60,000
E Packing, transportation and other expenses upto on board ship Rs 12,000
F Minimum acceptable profit margin is 30% of ex factory price Rs 18,000 30% of D
G Total cost + profit Rs 90,000
H Minimum acceptable FOB price in Rupees A Rs 81,818 A+0.1A= 

90,000

What are the business practices that have been adopted by successful Fast Track exporters?

 

Both domestic and global markets are undergoing rapid transformation. Indian exporters would need to adopt the following business practices in order to prosper or even survive.

 

  1. Export market intelligence
  2. Direct relationship with buyers
  3. Clear product market strategy for exports
  4. Strong R&D skills
  5. Access to latest technology
  6. Competetive raw material sourcing skills
  7. Highest manufacturing and quality standards
  8. Timely execution of orders
  9. Moving up the global value chain
  10. Clear Export thrust
  11. Enterpreneurial zeal

 

 

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Nakshi Kantha – The pride of Bengal

[Author is Shri. Santanu Guha Thakurtha of Prayaash Design Studio and this article appeared in one of the issues of Silk Mark Vogue magazine ]

Etymologically the word “Kantha” originally suggests a light quilt of mild winters and cool monsoon nights. Though the concept exists in almost all parts of the world, the form of quilting that prevails in Bengal is unique and not only serves as a functional article but also represents the cultural identity and folk art of this land. It is essentially a women’s art since the development of kantha art emerged out of the creative expressions of rural women as gifts for loved ones. Several layers of used or worn out materials such as saris, lungis and dhotis are stitched together to make a single kantha. The colourful patterns and designs that are embroidered on these articles resulted in the name “Nakshi Kantha”- derived from the word “naksha” which refers to artistic patterns. Each of these kanthas represents the contents of a woman’s mind and is filled with romance, sentiment and philosophy. 500 years ago, earliest reference of Kantha is found in ‘Sri Chaitanya charitamrita’ by Krishandas Kabiraj.

The Kantha Tradition

Like any other folk art kantha making is influenced by the factors like availability of materials, daily needs, climate, geography, economic factors etc. Probably the earliest form of kantha was the patch work kantha and the kanthas of decorative appliqué type evolved from this concept.

400 years ago, Portuguese arrived on the eastern coast of India and was impressed by the Kantha quilts, which reminded them of their needle-crafts, back home 17th century Portuguese ship “71 or-de-la-Mar” carried Bengal Kantha to Portugal. Kantha stitched works exported from Bengal early 17th century and were worn by the Queens of Portugal. The traditional designs had a central motif, such as ‘Satadal Padma’ hundred petal lotus or a large spiral of energy. Trees of life would be placed in four corners with free flowing jaals.

Lotus Motif

Influence of Religion and Folk Belief

Hindu women during 19th century used human and animal forms to tell stories of Gods and Goddesses and their Vahanas. Bengali women were free to draw upon their rich indigenous surroundings as well as their contemporary stories. To them the fabric was the artist and the person was the artisan. Mid 19th century, colour schemes and designs of Nakshi Kantha began to change to make them suitable for use on modern garments. 1930 Kabiguru Rabindra Nath Tagore and his daughter-in-law Pratima Devi trained Santali women in Birbhum District and quality work was produced under the tutelage of ‘Kalabhaban’ Artists.

Kantha comprises of the simplest stitch in the language of embroidery – the running stitch, yet it is making a mark in the National as well as International Market. Today ‘Nakshi Kantha’ is treated as traditional form of folk art as well as catering to top designers for their haute-couture creations. Nakshi Kantha in Bangladesh – Jessore, Faridpur, Mymensingh and Jamalpur have similar styles when it comes to stitching. These precious works of art remain silent witnesses of past, present and future of Bangladesh.

Kantha in art & culture

The ‘Paisly’ or ‘Kalka’ plays a significant role in Indian art and hence it is used not only on Kanthas but forms the design on other fabric as well. Each Kantha is designed by woman who embroiders it and she determines the pattern guided purely by intuition in the selection of figural and ornamental motifs, in their arrangements as well as choice of colours. Kantha embroidery is the prerogative of Bengali woman and is practiced by all sections of Rural Bengal. Kantha work is being revived and given modern touches by the designers. Nakshi Kantha has been a steady, thriving business for centuries in Bengal. Its revival is based on the art and crafts trends, with high International demand for genuine hand crafted work. The effect is very pleasing to the discerning eyes and the price is very reasonable for the effort that goes into the creation of each unique piece. Modern opulence, an easy elegance, a sense of grace and an instinct for the fine things in life……a love of luxury and a taste for redefined style, all together translate beautifully into the fashion trend now.

kalka motif

Kantha sarees

Nakshi Kantha nowadays is done on saris – (where fabrics are mainly Tussar, Silk-Bishnupuri and South cotton),  Bedcovers with pillow, Cushion covers, Salwaar sets, Kurtis, Dupattas, Stoles, Running materials, Blouse pieces, Scarves, Purses, Mobile covers,   wall hangings and many more. It seems to be one of the highest shareholders in the field of production of hand crafted Textiles. India carries varied culture and heritage. Nakshi Kantha is one of the top levels amongst them. Some of the most common motifs used are: lotus, solar, moon, chakra or wheel, swastika, tree-of-life, kalka, water, mountain, fish, boat, agricultural items and animals (elephant, horses, peacocks, tiger, monkeys, etc). While each kantha has designs that are unique to its maker’s imagination, usually there is a basic traditional pattern. Chok Par:  eye border, Barfi Par: diamond border, Beki Par: wavy or bent , Nolok Taga: nose ring border, Maach Par: fish border, Chok Taga: eye motif border, Dheu Par: wavy border, Gaach Par: tree border.

Nakshi Kantha – hand stitching is concentrated among Bengal villages. The karigars stay in remote villages in and around Bolpur, like Illambazar, Nanur, Kirnahaar, Debogram and Sriniketan place of Kantha. The designs are drawn on the products, the colour scheme is decided accordingly and then the karigars start working on that with the decided coloured threads. A fully hand stitched 6.5 mts sari takes almost seven months time to get ready for marketing.

Tree of life motif

Types of Kanthas

Niaz Zaman in her book ‘The Art of Kantha Embroidery’ classified the kanthas in following categories according to the stitch employed:

Running Stitch kantha: Running stitch kantha is truly the indigenous kantha. They are subdivided into Nakshi or figured and par tola or patterned. Nakshi or figured kanthas are again divided into motif kantha or scenic ones.

Lohori Kantha: The name derived from Persian word ‘lehr’ meaning ‘wave’. This kantha is particularly popular in Rajshahi. These kanthas are further divided into soja (straight or simple) kantha, Kautar khupi (pegion coop or triangle), borfi or diamond (charchala, atchala or barachala etc).

Lik or Anarasi (pineapple) Kantha: Found in Chapainawabgonj and Jessore area. The variations are lik tan, lik tile, lik jhumka, lik lohori.

Cross Stitch or Carpet Kantha: This kantha was introduced by the English during the British Rule in India. The stitch employed in these kanthas are cross stitch.

Sujni Kantha: This kantha is found only in Rajshahi area. The popular motif used is undulating floral and vine motif.

Supporting a great cause

Nakshi Kanta is women oriented avocation, through which the village people gain a supplementary income to support their family, contribute to their children’s education and the family to become financially independent. Individual development leads to the social development of that place. Small co-operative societies are formed to support the karigars and they take the finished products for marketing. Self-help groups, Bank and financial Institutions extend easy term loans to the karigars enabling them to create their innovative work smoothly. A multi crore annual turnover comes from this rich and beautiful art. Let’s salute the Royal heritage of Rural Bengal and extend all out co-operation to keep this masterly craft vibrant.

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Patola Sarees – Pride of Gujarath

[Written by Dr. K. Mohan Rao, Scientist, Central Silk Board  and appeared in one of the issues of Silk Mark Vogue magazine]

Patola means “Queen of Silks”. The Patola Silk Sarees are one of the finest varieties of handloom silk saree from Gujarat. Patola sarees are woven with great clarity and precision. They are well known all over the world for their highly delicate patterns. These sarees are woven by master weavers on a special type of silk called ‘Patola Silk’. Geometric designs with folk motifs and flaming colors are characteristic features of Patola sarees. Each Patola saree reflects the skill and imagination of the weaver and is exclusive by nature. Patan and Surat are famous destinations of Patola sarees. Patan, the place in Gujarat, is well known for its Patola saree.

Patola sarees date back to History

The art of Patola sarees flourished with the arrival and settlement of Salvi weavers from Karnataka and Maharashtra in Patan under the patronage of royal Solanki Rajputs and affluent people of Gujarat. This dates back to the 12th century. The historical evidences determine that Patola sarees have been made since at least the thirteenth century and have always had aristocratic or ritualistic associations. The walls of some south Indian temples, such as at Mattancheri (Kerala) and Padmanabhapuram (southern Tamil Nadu) contain eighteenth-century depictions of Patola designs.


Reigning of Patola Sarees

Patola sarees have evolved from the days of sultanate reign and era of royals and confined to Gujarat for an acclaiming stature as one of the finest pieces of fabric and works of art. Gujarat is believed to have exported Patola sarees to South-East Asia since at least the fourteenth century. The later development and expansion of Patola weaving is also traced in the historical evidences. This depicts that after the fall of Solanki dynasty, the wealthy Gujarati merchants patronized the Salvis. Gradually the Patola sarees became a status symbol with Gujarati girls and became an essential part of the women closet.

Patola Sarees – a Symbol of Status

Traditionally created by the Hindu Salvi caste and traded to South–East Asia by the Muslim Vohra community, this costly and high status oriented Patola sarees were worn by the Vohras and well off Jains and Hindus (Brahmins and Bhatia traders) for weddings and other propitious occasions. The sarees became symbol of status and part of wedding brocade dresses and from then on, are regarded as best pure silk bridal wears.

What are Patola sarees ?

Patola sarees generally have the basic design motifs like animals, flowers, human figures and birds. Now-a-days some geometrical designs have attracted the wearers that gained momentum from the age-old traditional Muslim architectural designs. Some ikkat sarees are enriched with Kundan and Zardosi sequins for special occasions. The typical feature of the fabric is the brocade like heavy texture. The pallus or anchals are elaborate and the dazzling borders are adorned with warm colors and rich motifs.

The double ikkat sarees are with motifs of parrots, flowers, elephants and dancing figures and are primarily used by Jains and Hindus as wedding brocade dresses. Geometric and floral designs are preferred by Muslim Vohra communities as they regard it best ‘pure silk bridal wear’. Sarees with plain dark colored body and motifs of women and birds treated as special variety of Patola, known as Nari Kunj, are greatly cherished by Maharashtrian Brahmins.

 

Patola Sarees – a treasure collection

Patola sarees are a treasure collection especially for women all over the world. Handloom silk saree and Khadi silk apparels from India have their own appeal to various classes of people all over the world as they are used by various fashion designers as their base work. It was very difficult to get hold of an original Patola saree as they are woven by handful of weavers only and are not abundant as South Indian silk sarees or printed silk sarees.

Patola sarees are beautiful that can be used for formal occasions even.
Apart from its beautiful look many women like to wear this saree to satisfy their status need. Double ikkat type of Patola saree made in patan is very difficult to produce. The procedure involves great care and skill. In double ikkat type of sarees both side of sarees have a same look so women can wear it from any side. Women who have allergic to colors can use these sarees made up of natural colors.

Types of Patola Sarees

Depending on the pattern of weaving there are two types of Patola sarees –

  • Rajkot Patola and
  • Patan Patola.

While the Rajkot variety are single ikkat and vertically resist dyed, the Patan variety is double ikkat pattern and horizontally resist dyed. The Patan Patola is done in the double ikkat style, which is perhaps the most complicated textile design in the whole world. Both sides of the saree have the same design and can be draped in either way. This makes a unique combination of art silk sarees and printed silk sarees.

High priced Patola Sarees

The price of these sarees is very high. A few people can afford to buy these sarees. Thus, due to its high price it has become matter of status to wear these sarees. The most difficult method of making Patola sarees can be seen in Sadvi Wada. Formally people of this area were producing Patola sarees for high class peoples and now only one family is producing this type of sarees. You can wear this saree on formal occasion or wedding occasion to enhance your look and status.

Techniques darted in weaving of Patola sarees

 

The Patola saree is one of the finest hand-woven sarees produced today. Patola silk sarees are the pride of Gujarat. These sarees are created by using the resist dying technique. There are two types of Patola sarees.

 

  • Rajkot Patola: This is only vertically resisting dyed (single ikkat).
  • Patan Patola: This is horizontally-resist dyed (double ikkat).

 

Patola sarees are known for their flaming bright colors and geometric designs interwoven with folk motifs. Every Patola saree is one of its kinds as it is created entirely with the imagination and skill of the weaver.

Fabric in Patola Saree

Patola sarees are woven from silk called the ‘Patola silk’. The Patola silks are still made by a handful of master weavers from Patan and Surat known best for their zari work.

Making of Patola sarees

Patola sarees are the hand made sarees which are produced in the large quantities in Patan. Even Surat has become much more famous for producing Patola sarees. Patola sarees are famous for its delicate, beautiful and clear pattern which is done with great accuracy and skill. Patola sarees are made with handlooms and so according to its design and pattern it takes time for producing this sarees. These sarees have intricate five-colour designs, resist-dyed into both warp and weft threads before weaving, resulting in a completely reversible fabric.

The weaving is done on simple traditional handlooms. Each fabric consists of a series of warp threads and a single weft thread, which binds the warp threads together. Each one of the warp threads is tied and dyed according to the pattern of the saree, such that the knotted portions of the thread do not catch the colours. The result is that both sides of the saree look exactly alike as if it is printed on both sides with the same design, and can be worn either way.

Time consumption

 

Patola sarees are the most time consuming and elaborate sarees created in the western region. These sarees are created with great precision, exactness and perfection by the artisans of the western region. Depending on the complexity of design and length, a Patola saree takes 4-6 months for completion. If the design of this saree is very hard and if the length of saree is more, then it may require more skill and more time to produce it.

 

Design Variance in Patola sarees

The designs of Patola arees have a wide range of variations. Flowers, animals, birds and human figures form the basic designs. The designs are repetitive at a great deal and often geometric patterns are noticed in the sarees. The designs of this saree basically fall into three types that include :

 

  • purely geometric forms
  • reminiscent of Islamic architectural embellishments and
  • ajrak (complex geometric print designs of the Sind, such as the Navaratna Bhat – nine jewels design).

 

Other designs that are incorporated in the Patola sarees are the floral and vegetal patterns. These catered to the needs of the Muslim market which shunned depictions of animals and people, such as

 

  • Vohra Bhat (vohra community design),
  • Paan Bhat (paan leaf or peepal tree leaf design), and
  • Chhaabdi Bhat (floral basket design).

The Patola sarees are also designed with patterns that depict forms as

the nari (dancing woman),

  • kiinjar (elephant) and
  • popat (parrot).

 

Among the Vohra Muslims, a version of Patola sarees is used as their wedding sarees. The Maharashtra Brahmins wear Nari Kunj sarees of plain, dark colour body and the borders of the sarees are embellished with women and bird motifs. Moreover, the Patola sarees are extensively used in each region for the variations and the designs they manifest. As the tradition exemplifies, the sarees have attained a great position in the list of Indian traditional sarees.

Vibrant colouration

The dyes used for colouring the Patola sarees are made from vegetable extracts and other natural colours. The color durability of this saree is very high. Color of this saree will never become pale even if you wash it many times. Now-a-days, both vegetable dyes and chemical dyes are used to exuberant the new geometrical designs. Patola silk sarees with bright colours are also enriched with Zardosi and Kundan sequins.

Marketing of Patola sarees

There are many shops from where you can buy Patola sarees of latest fashion. Even with the help of internet you can get online information about this sarees. With the arrival of various online shopping portals, finding a Patola saree has become easier. These portals have huge collection of traditional brocade sarees and special Patola sarees with Zardosi or Kundan sequins and even offer matching blouse pieces.

 

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TASAR EXTRAVAGANZA – THREADS OF ANTIQUITY

by Chitra Balasubramaniam , a freelance journalist

[This article appeared in the earlier issue of Silk Mark Vogue]

Tasar silk is quite familiar to all of us, one of the most popular of silks today, tasar is liked for its inherent sheen, texture and of course the range of its natural colours. But how many of us are familiar with the fact that tasar was first discovered during the Indus Valley Civilisation?  No this is not conjecture or just an off the cuff remark. It is an archaeologically proven fact recently. In a paper published titled New Evidence for Early Silk in the Indus Civilisation by I.L. Good, J.M. Kenoyer and R.H. Meadow in Archaeometry 51, 3 (2009), University of Oxford, talks of the use of silken threads in the Indus Valley Civilisation. To be precise, the words written by  J M Kenoyer and R H Meadow are, “This unique discovery of a coiled copper-alloy wire necklace (H2000/2242-01) has traces of fibers preserved on the inside. Recent studies indicate that the fibers are from the wild silk moth, Antheraea mylitta, commonly called “Tasar” silk today (Irene Good, J. M. Kenoyer and R. H. Meadow 2008). This necklace dates to Harappa period 3B (circa 2450-2200 BC) and is the earliest evidence for silk in South Asia. Its discovery demonstrates that silk production may have first been used to make fine threads for necklaces and only later used for weaving fabrics. The copper wire on this necklace is also among the earliest evidence for finely made wire in the Indus Valley. This type of wire is likely to have been made by drawing the wire through a series of graduated perforations. (Source: www.harappa.com/indus3/218.html). A path breaking discovery indeed! A knowledge which instills in us a sense of pride at the antiquity of tussar which we take it for granted.

THE DEEP ROOTED LINK

The road from the silk yarn to the weave and innovation in its current form has traversed nearly over 4000 years. Today, the mantra is “Green” and organic – whether it is fabric, food or any other product, there is this emphasis on natural. The world is embracing natural fibers, yarns and fabrics with a vengeance. And the tasar fits in snugly into this definition of natural, organic silk, green fabric, wild silk… Every country is taking measures to boost its contribution to natural fibres both plant and animal. A further boost to the movement was given with the United Nations celebrating 2009 as the International year of Natural fibres. Tasar did find a place of pride in the listing. It is to the credit of tasar that it is as relevant and contemporary now as it was during the Indus Valley Civilisation.

India is a virtual treasure trove of silk, the only country in the world to produce both mulberry and the distinct types of non mulberry silk (Tasar, Muga and Eri). The grandeur tales of how India’s famed silks were exchanged for gold, silver and other precious metals is what history is made of. . Cut to the present, the mulberry silk rules the market with the non-mulberry varieties forming just a small portion of the production. What however undeniable is its “expensive, royal, sophisticated, very elite, exclusive image”. With these attribute associations; silk is more of an exclusive product, aimed at the niches in the higher end of the market. Tussar affords excellent potential in the domestic and export markets. The applications are varied, the innovations mind boggling, the design and motif potential unlimited. The potential of tasar as they say is yet to be unleashed! Unconvinced try this, at the recent Handloom fair during Dial at Dilli Haat, the predominant stalls were from the Tussar belt (Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Bihar, West Bengal, Assam) now offered so much variation in tasar that it was unbelievable. Each stall had something different and the business – brisk with contemporary designs flying off like hot cakes. The range encompassed both fabrics, wearable tasar (salwar suits, shawls, stoles, sarees) to quilt fabrics, furnishing material and throws.

Tussar is produced by special silkworms – Antheraea mylitta and Antheraea proylei which feed on leaves other than the mulberry. The colour of the silk depends on the leaves on which the worms feed and the climatic conditions of the region where it is being reared. Thus the range of natural shades – ranging from cream, off white, light honey brown, deeper shades of brown, beige…It is slightly coarse (yes it is not smooth and soft like mulberry silk), given that it is reared in the wild – in the forest, it is also called Wild Silk. It has a natural sheen which gives the silk a very rich natural appearance. Internationally Tasar silk is called tussah or tusseah silk and is very popular amongst hand knitters and weavers. Tasar yarn has a huge export potential as it is combined with wool and other fancy yarns and is the preferred choice of knitters. The tasar yarn gives it the certain exotica.  Popularly called Kosa silk, the areas of Raigarh, Bastar produce some of the finest quality of tasar – raila. Several weavers refer to this as desi. Tasar from Bhagalpur is legendary.

Historical Speak

Apart from its linkages to the Harappan Civilisation, Tasar has found a pride of place and has been mentioned in travel accounts of voyagers to India. It has also been extensively used in Exhibitions of Handicrafts held in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The use of Kosa or Tasar has been documented in writings on Industrial Arts of India and in Exhibition Catalogues of British Raj. Sir George Watt in his book Indian Art at Delhi 1903 talks of Central provinces, “the most important part of silk craft in these Provinces is the production and utilization of tasar in Bilaspur, Raipur, Sambalpur and Chanda Districts. In the Sambalpur tasar saris, the end-piece and borders are dyed yellow or crimson and occasionally blue. He also speaks of Amru silks of Benares which had tasar silk warp and weft of imported cotton. The Imperial Gazetteer of India Vol III Economics, quotes of embroidery with Tasar done on Lucknowi Chikan especially to fill the petals, of Bengal handloom factories which predominantly shifted to using tusar.

Kamala Devi Chattopadyay, the doyen of Indian Handicrafts, thanks to whose efforts a number of crafts are alive today, writes in her book Handicrafts of India, “Ganeshpur, in Bhandara district of Maharashtra, has almost half the working population engaged in tasar silk weaving. It is almost a monopoly of the koshti community. They too claim to be descended from sage Markanda known to have woven the first fabric from the lotus fibre to clothe the gods.”  Tasar silk is also known by its Sanskrit name of Kosa.

Traditional leanings

Tasar has been used in traditional sarees, fabrics woven in the country. Orissa’s single ikkat – patola is woven in tussar. It is further adorned with motifs of fish, rudraksha, simple flowers, conch…. The colours use the natural colouration of tussar to vantage. Maharashtra tussar silk comes with an eye catching combination of again creamish to brown tussar silk with contrast borders in earthy maroons, orange, blue, green… the border further ornamented with rudraksha motifs or small kairies. In Bengal it is the base for Kantha embroidery. It works as a substitute for mulberry silk to bring down the cost. Kamala Devi Chattopadyay writes in the same book on some of the varieties in tasar weave, “motha choukada is a design in big squares, woven from the mixture of kosa yarn and mercerized cotton and lahan choukada is small squares. The gunja salai consists of diagonal designs on the cloth along with coloured lines at regular intervals, in green, blue or orange. Other varieties are teen-dhari choukada, the square patter, rasta choukada, squares with horizontal lines running through and so on.”

Today the ornate and complicated motif has its own admirers. The grand pallav, the body filled with motifs and bhutis routine is woven and bought with gusto. Here it is worked with lurex, kantha embroidery, Worli images, Madhubani paintings, Kalamkari, simple block prints, jacquard loom weaving……  The piece de resistance is the Orissa tasar saree – single ikat.  These are available in natural shades of tussar with contrast ikat borders alter in single or short colours with ikat borders.  “Kora” original coloured tasar sarees with woven borders are extremely popular amongst working women as it can be used for formal occasions and daily wear.

Contemporary Avtaar

What has seen Tussar emerge as a winner in recent times is the degree of innovation and experimentation that has taken place with tussar. Be it in yarn combinations, weave, colours and motifs. Tasar is being combined with manmade and natural fabrics. It is combined with pashmina (lena), muga silk, eri, it is teamed with wool, with lurex, noil, viscose, cotton and mulberry silk to create some exotic stoles, sarees and shawls. The introduction of Oak Tussar in areas not the traditional bastion of Tasar has given it a further boost. Oak tussar is being increasingly popularized in the Hills – Uttaranchal, Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram….. Oak tussar from Uttaranchal has seen innovations. The spearheading was done by NGOs working in this sector which roped in NID and NIFT designers to create some contemporary designs. Active in this area of weaving are several NGOs and co-operatives, including: Avani, Panchachuli, Appropriate Technology India, Kumaon Grameen Udyog. Similar innovation has also come up in the traditional tussar belt, leading the foray has been BMKS – Berozgar Mahila Kalyan Samiti, (BMKS), based in Bhagalpur, Bihar.

What stands out is that today tasar is combined with a variety of yarns which gives the products a definitive edge. It is this wealth of natural yarns with which the designers are really experimenting with. The tasar pashmina combination is increasingly being woven into sarees dyed in deep shades and with beautiful block prints. Given the novelty it is a hot seller as a weaver seller from Himachal Pradesh put it, “I don’t know why but this is very popular in Delhi, though finds little takers near our village.” It has also been experimented with mica prints.

HOME SPUN BRAND IMAGE

Apart from the combination of yarns, the experimentation with the weaving technique has given the tasar an entirely new look.  Weaves commonly seen in fabric weaving are being applied to weaving saris. So there is twill, herringbone, satin, diamond which when combined with the interesting and different colour palette makes the creation stand out. The designs again are not ornate or extremely complicated, just the basic stripes, checks, squares are woven in beautiful colour combinations. A weaver reveals the range of designs as, “Chashma bulbul which is actually a bird’s eye, machli kanta – fishing hook, Dangching, khapa, simple lines and geometrical squares. Designs which have been lifted from Kullu are called well, Kullu designs, while that of Almora – Almora designs.” The entire length of the sari could be in this design or it could be mixed with simple plain weaving. The ornate and extremely complicated patterning is being done away with and in turn replaced by play with geometrics, basic stripes, checks, square with colour combinations. Combining two or more weaves in one shawl is very common. Also unlike typical shawls it does not lay emphasis on borders and ends. So reversal of techniques like motifed body of the shawl with plain borders, simple gingham checks, squares in bright colours are all part of the scheme.

EVER GREEN FASHION

Not to be left far behind are the combination of colours. Traditionally tasar has been woven in its natural colouring with value additions being done using block prints, painting, contrast coloured motif weaving or embroidery. The contemporary creations pick up the choicest of shades from the colour palette, combining it with unbridled freedom. Colours usually seen on international platforms or as colours of the season are now increasingly being seen on the desi versions. The weaving is no longer single colour or multiple but it is not unusual to see three to four shades along the warp and the weft. The result a riot of colour based gradation in the sarees and fabrics. So it is not unusual to see a shawl in green red where the warp is made of three different colours or vice versa with the three different shades used in the weft. It is this soft interplay of colours which gives it the very contemporary look. Similarly borderless sarees or sarees with single colour block borders, the body combining two or three shades of the same colour. Each of which is different and reverting. This beautiful base is further worked with over dyes, washes, embroidery, block printing, hand painting….So it is not unusual to see a tasar silk woven in Jharkhand then worked on by Kalamkari artists or Kasuti embroiderers or even sujni embroiderers. The result in an eclectic truly different piece. Some very interesting work using traditional chippa printing has been done by Raghunath Nama – Master Craftsman. An interesting outcome of several of these designs is that the saree or stole become do rookha and can be worn either ways. Like Tussar on the weft and and wool on the warp, do rookha style where the stole can be worn either ways. One weaver had come out with a saree which could actually be worn any way meaning the both ends could become the pallav, as also the do rookha interchanging of the sides; black with shot pink.

Further innovation is the use of natural dyes and vegetable colours. Though synthetic and chemical colours are used, there is a shift towards using only natural dyed colours. This has really caught on with the export market.  So Walnut, Henna, Indigo, Madder, Harda…..are all being used to derive some beautiful colours. Some unusual colours not seen commonly in natural dyed fabrics can also be seen like pretty lilacs, turquoise blue, pinks etc.

Use in furnishing

Tasar is being increasingly used in the furnishing industry and very popular for made ups. It is very popular in accessories, throws, as fabrics for furnishing and of course for garments. The structure of the fabric allows it to be stitched in any form.

So the entire range, throws, cushion covers, upholstery material, curtains, quilts….gets made from it. It is also popular in patchwork and appliqué.  Some international interior designers prefer the saree (tasar, over dyed, embroidered….) fabric to work into their own designs for the home. Given the emphasis on designs, weaves and colour combinations, the results are fabulous. The colour combination works to highlight the weaves very subtly, giving the piece a remarkably self design appearance..  Another fact which works in favour of tasar fabrics is the cost of experimentation is not very high. Ghisa and matka varieties are very popular in the furnishing market. What works for furnishing especially in the export market is that it is rich, has a natural earthy colouring both of which gives it that extra jazz. The colours bringing out the rugged look, patterns from textured effects, stripes to jacquard.

Tasar is haute and with experimentation will transcend greater heights. What is humbling is that the silk, over which we go gaga, where export targets are laid, is a silken thread which bridges the continuity of civilization. This year it found representation in the State Tableau of the Republic Day. From Indus Valley to the present day Republic Day Rally, it is indeed a thread of antiquity.

 

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The Grace and Glory of Banarasi Sarees

Shri. Devender Singh, B.Tech (Textiles),LLB.,MBA

[This article appeared in one of the issue of Silk Mark Vogue]

Saree is the national dress of Indian women and plays an integral part in a woman’s life. They are the most popular choice for Indian women and are preferred taking into consideration Indian values, ethos and tradition. Banarasi Saree is an Indian woman’s coveted possession. For a long time Banarasi Saree has been an important part of the Indian bride wardrobe and rarely fails to flatter a woman, making her feel delicate and feminine. Varanasi (or Banares) is one of the most prominent centres of silk handloom weaving in India. The most famous product of Varanasi’s handlooms is the Banarasi silk saree, which is most in demand in weddings as well as bridal dress.

History of Banares Sarees

In fact, the tradition goes far back that sarees are mentioned in the Mahabharata (one of the two epics that play an important part of Hindu mythology), which dates between 1000 and 300 B.C. Indian saree market divides itself broadly into two; traditional bridal and designer segments.

When we talk about wedding or bridal sarees, the first kind of saree strikes in our mind is Banarasi sarees that comes in various designs, colours and textures such as embroidered Banarasi sarees, silk Banarasi sarees, designer Banarasi sarees, cutwork sarees, Butidar sarees, tissue sarees, etc. On the occasion of wedding ceremony an Indian bride clad in Banarasi designer saree complete with her solah sringar, that the looks like are beyond description.

These stunning sarees are woven in Varanasi, the oldest city in the world. In ancient times, weavers of Indian Banarasi sarees took inspiration for designs from Jasmine, Thousand Emeralds, Marigold flower, Betel nut leaf, Diagonal stripes, Corner-motif with a mango flower etc.

Features

The famous Varanasi saree made in the holy city of Banaras in the state of Uttar Pradesh and  since the ancient times is ranked among the finest traditional sarees of India. These sarees are quite heavy due to its rich embroidery and are donned by Indian women only during special occasions like wedding, parties and festivities.

The zardozi work and other thread embroidery will make this saree look elegant, classic yet fashionable. Heavy sequins, beads, and buttas will add glamour and shimmer to the saree. You can also grab a net and Banarasi combined wedding saree for marriages. Colors like maroon, brown and red in combination with green and golden will definitely stand out uniquely enhancing your stature. Banarasi silk sarees are traditionally made in four varieties: pure silk (Katan), organza (Kora), Georgette saree, and Shatir saree. Traditional designs of the brocade include jasmine (chameli), thousand emeralds (panna hazar), marigolds (genda buti), betel nut leaves (paan buti), diagonal stripes (tircha) and the corner motif with a mango flower (konia). Originally the sarees were embellished with threads made from real gold and silver for use by the royal family. In modern times, this has been replaced by gold and silver-colored thread, making the sarees affordable for the general population.

Created in eye-catching shades and pattern, the Banarasi sarees of India are so famous today that they are exported all over the world.  Woven on the handloom, attached with dobby or Jacquard mechanism, normally three people are required to make one Varanasi saree. Production of a Banarasi silk saree may take 15 days to six months to complete depending upon the intricacy of the designs. Banarasi saree manufacturing hubs are located in areas like Varanasi, Gorakhpur and Azamgarh.

Making of a Banarasi Silk Saree

An ideal Banarasi Saree comprises of  around 5600 thread wires, all of them within 45-inch wide. In case of weaving the warp, the craftsmen make the base, which is around 24 to 26 m long. One of the most important aspects of weaving Banarasi silk sarees of India is the teamwork involved. Typically, three weavers are involved in the creation of the saree. One of them weaves the saree, while the second one is engaged at the revolving ring, where bundles are created and the third in assisting the border designing.

At the time of bundling a new process of designing the motifs begins. For creating design boards, an artist   sketches the design on a graph paper, along with color concepts. Before selecting the final design, punch cards are created. A single design of an Indian Banarasi saree requires hundreds of perforated cards for the implementation of the idea. Different threads and colours are used on the loom to knit the prepared perforated cards. The knit perforated cards are then paddled in a systematic manner. This is done to ensure that the main weaving picks up the right colors and pattern.

Resurgence of Banarasi silk Sarees

Reports suggest that Indian silk is being exported to around 200 countries and the demand is increasing steadily particularly from the American and the European countries. India stands second only to China in silk production. Varanasi is known for its silk a time-tested icon of craftsmanship. The Banarasi silk saree industry is the mainstay of the holy city and adds considerably to the Indian silk export basket.

 

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Pochampally Sarees A Sheer Delight for Women of Fashion

Written by :  B. Chandankumar, Assistant Director(Insp.), SMOI, Central Silk Board, Hyderabad

Pochampalli – the silk city of Andhra Pradesh consisting of 10,000 weaver families spread over to 100 villages is famous for “Pochampalli sarees” with a unique tie & dye design- a sought after delicacy of the modern woman. Surrounded by hills, tanks and ponds and lush green fields, spread-out silk warps, neera tapping from palm trees, mat making women, bustled with shuttle sounds, Pochampally has earned a name to reckon with in the map of popular weaving clusters of India.

Bhoodan Pochampalli

Pochampalli is well known for the bhoodan movement of Vinoba Bhave and hence fondly known as Bhoodan Pochampalli. Acharya Vinoba Bhave, (Shri Vinayak Narahari Bhave), teacher of Non-Violence and Human Rights was at Pochampally on 18th April 1951.  Inspired by Acharya Vinoba Bhave’s proposal to resolve the problem of providing land to landless villagers, Shri Vedre Ramchandra Reddy, a local landlord of 46 years old spontaneously offered to donate his own land of about 250 Acres for distribution among the local villagers, igniting the bhoodaan movement throughout the independent India.

Pochampalli is the place where threads and colours find their way into the hands of skillful weavers where it is transformed into exotic sarees with intricate magical designs based on Ikats. Basking under the glory on par with the weaves of Kanchi, Dharmavaram, Gadwal, Venkatagiri, the uniqueness of Pochampalli sarees lies in the transfer of design and colouring onto warp and weft threads first and then weave them together forming electrifying patterns on the body and pallu.

Silk Weaving in Andhra

The state of Andhra Pradesh has silk manufacturing and processing pockets in the Districts of East Godavari (Uppada, Peddapuram), Mahaboobnagar (Narayanpet), Gadwal, Anantapur, Dharmavaram, Hindupur, Krishna (Machilipatnam), Nalgonda (Pochampally), Chittoor (Madanapalle). Pochampally (17° 23′ N, 78° 38′ E) in the district of Nalgonda, Andhra Pradesh is famously known as Bhoodan Pochampally.

The people from this special land have lot of patience and perseverance to produce the designs requiring a lot of co-ordination in each set of processes, with utmost concentration & care not to loose even a single thread which plays its own role in forming the required design. Pochampally is known for the unique type of designing known by names  Ikat, Ikat, Ikath, Tie And Dye or Pochampally Design. However, origin of these designs is Chirala a town in the district of Guntur, Andhra Pradesh.

The Pochampalli style

Design containing 3 to 4 colours in general is drawn on to a graph sheet to decide the requirement of number of ends and picks for a given design Motif, accordingly dyeing  warp and weft yarn groups after tying them by rubber bands, as many number of times as the number of  colours for a given design. Spectacular designs are produced using the combination of colours, counts, pitch of threads etc. Once the fabric is made, one can see an aura of colour around each motive due to difference of millimeters in setting the design while hand weaving of the fabric.

Yarns are subjected to three ways of preparation for making Ikat designs as detailed below.

Whole weft yarn dyeing and tying & dyeing of warp yarn, results in warp Ikat.

  1. Whole warp yarn dyeing and tying & dyeing of weft yarn, results in weft Ikat. and
  2. Tying & dyeing of both warp and weft yarn, results in double Ikat.

Around 50 mtrs. of fabric (approximately 8 Sarees length) can be woven in one to two months depending on the intricacy of the design, number of colours, count of the threads used, type of preparation of threads & seasonal changes.

Considering the fact that the silks tend to loose some dye stuff particularly during washing and perspiration, which may result in running of different colours in to each other, which may defeat the entire efforts of every artisan, who puts his innovative thoughts and workmanship into the fabric, weavers ensure that they use only those colours which are having better fastness to washing, perspiration and water.

Features of Pochampally designs

They are perfectly reversible with same appearance of the design on both sides making them most suitable for sarees, dupattas, Scarves& Stoles which tend to folding and curtains for getting similar look from either side.

Design Motifs are produced by using the yarn tie and dye effect, unlike checks and bar or stripe effects produced when yarns are dyes wholly and used for dyeing. Each and every thread is adjusted before it is set in to weaving of the fabric producing exquisite effects by a little deviation in setting the threads while weaving, which will be difficult to make on power looms due to high speed and the precision of Power looms may snatch the natural effect induced by human hands, thus the popularity of the design.

Andhra Pradesh State Weavers Co-operative Society under the state government is playing vital role in merchandising the pochampally products in the country, while, Ministry of Textiles, Govt of India has initiated efforts yielding positive results in setting up huge Handloom Park (Member of Silk Mark Organisation of India and Authorised User of Silk Mark) located near pochampally, providing support to the artisans and weavers. Channellising this household cottage based traditional artistry by innovating and modernizing the designs, & varieties. The Handloom Park is preparing itself to flood the international market with never seen before designs and varieties in the form of Sarees, Furnishings, Garments & Ties, Upholsteries, Made-ups  viz, (Scarves & Stoles, Cushion Covers, Place mats to name a few)  protecting the age old Indian tradition even in the era of IT boom.

The Pochampally facts

  1. Pochampally is the single largest Handloom Tie & Dye Cluster with about 2000 Pitlooms and around 5000 artisans most of them are called Padmasali Community.
  2. Weaving is the main livelihood for the people of Pochampally.
  3. Efforts by Ministry of Textiles, Govt. of India resulted in setting up Pochampally Handloom Park giving new & 3G dimension to Pochampally Designs & making them more popular in the domestic and International market.
  4. Pochampally Ikat is the first from the traditional craft sector awarded a Geographical Indication status under Indian GI Act, 1999.
  5. Co-operative Societies, Independent Weavers and Master Weavers are competing among themselves to reach Pochampally designs.
  6. Andhra Pradesh State Weavers Co-operative Society Ltd (APCO), Special member of Silk Mark Organisation of India is playing very important role in procuring and distributing most of the pochampally products.
  7. More than 50% of Pochampally population is directly or indirectly engaged in producing Pochampally Ikats.
  8. Initially the all natural dyes were used to make Ikat designs, due to intricacy of designs and cost of production, synthetic dyes gradually replaced the natural ones.
  9. Pochampally is about 50 Kms. from Hyderabad, the capital City of Andhra Pradesh.
  10. More the number of colours used more would be the time and labour consumed, hence higher cost of production on handlooms.
  11. One can comfortably change the design for every 50 Mtr, making it possible to get varieties of designs in short intervals.

Caring Pochampalli Craft: Suggestions

  1. Most of the siblings of Padmasali Community are switching over to apparently lucrative Jobs outside, leaving the very base of artistry to fade away with their elders.
  2. In spite of huge efforts from the Departments of Ministry of Textiles, response is missing in the cluster of Ikats.
  3. Textile Technologists should come forward to study the basic process and development help the artisans with easier way of Ikat manufacturing.
  4. Designers with their innovative should accept the challenge of testing the skills of Ikat artisans, with buy back facility.
  5. Textile and Designing Students should be given the task of studying such Clusters Technically for their thesis.
  6. Artisans from the clusters should be made to compete in making best designs & qualities and honor them accordingly to instill josh.
  7. Hospitality sector should be enlightened with different varieties from all clusters and motivate them to use the products to make a positive turnaround.
  8. Exclusive websites should be opened for each cluster, giving entire information making it closer to the large scale buyers, designers, students & consumers, with facility of online buying.
  9. Relevant organizations should compulsorily provide opportunity to the clusters in the exhibitions organized by them in national as well as international platforms.

 

 

 

 

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