Saturday, August 30, 2014

Baluchari - from the heart of Bishnupur, Bengal

Green Baluchari saree
Art is an embodiment of culture….whether it is a purely hand sculpted idol or a detailed artwork on a drape, art simply reflects the rich cultural heritage of a place.  An intricate handwork not only speaks of the artistic caliber of its weaver but also boasts highly of the legacy it carries within itself.
Sarees, happen to be one of the finest platforms which truly reflect art and its legacy. Bengal highly boasts of the designs, handworks portrayed on an array of  various sarees…whether it is Muslin, Tangail, Taant, all of them depict intricate design works which speaks highly of the heritage that it carries.  While Taant, Dhakai sarees are well known for simplicity and grace, Baluchari and Swarnachari just reflect grandeur and glory.  

Baluchari work
Origin of Baluchari: Baluchari is one of the most eminent creations of Bengal and is predominantly manufactured in Bishnupur district of Bankura, West Bengal. The creation owes its origin to Murshid Kuli Khan, the Nawab of Bengal who adored the art and made it flourish in Bishnupur. He art originally hails from Dhaka, Bangladesh. The art was practiced in Baluchar district and was named after the district itself. However, after a point of time, due to immense flood the art moved on to Bishnupur. Today, it is a popular art practiced in Bishnupur and Baluchari sarees are adored in the same way like Benarasi, Kanjivaram and other such creations that are earmarked as ‘special’.
What makes Baluchari special?
The USP of the art is that Baluchari sarees are designed on a particular motif. Mostly incidents or characters from Indian epics like the Ramayana, the Mahabharata are being portrayed in the drape. A typical Baluchari saree would depict the “Sawamvar of Draupadi” where the bride’s suitors were asked to hit an arrow at the eye of a fish just by looking at its reflection.   

Black Swarnachari saree
Swarnachari, the golden counterpart: Similar to Baluchari, Swarnachari sarees are also very much in vogue. The specialty of these sarees is that it is weaved in gold threads. The lustrous feel of the garment gives it an ostentatious appearance and makes it highly appreciable among women. It has close similarities with Baluchari except for the fact that silk threads are used in the latter. However, conceptually both are same and just like Baluchari it has intricate designs are depiction of mythologies.
Other Motifs: The designs are generally inspired from Mythological stories, like the Ramayana, Mahabharata. It also portrays scenes from the Mughal era for instance the Nawab’s Durbar or depicting women smoking hookah and the like. The drape is available in shades of red, off white with strong hues of gold.
The faces behind the creation: The art happens to be one of the richest cultures of Bengal. To produce one master piece it takes more than 100 hours of hard work. Lalu and Bholu are two twin brothers specialize in creating Baluchari sarees. They are like many other artisans work endlessly and contribute to preserve this heritage.

While the creations amaze buyers across globe, it is the relentless hardwork of the artisans which actually gives the Midas touch to drape which makes the creation a must have in every woman’s wardrobe. 

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