Image: Lovitoli, one of the weavers featured on Antaran Artisan Connect.
Looking for an authentic, hand-woven Indian textile, at the click of a mouse, is much easier now with the launch of Antaran Artisan Connect. Antaran Artisan Connect -an initiative of Tata Trusts social projects- connects customers directly with artisans. The organisation presently works with six handloom clusters in four Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Assam and Nagaland, assisting artisan-entrepreneurs across stages of production from developing the very ecosystem they live and work in to educating them in different aspects of weaving and guiding them in business development.
Image: Cushion by Lovitoli.
For the customer this experience means getting an opportunity to browse collections of hand-woven saris, stoles, yardage, jackets, runners, cushion covers and more, from six different handloom clusters, each of which has its distinct weaving expression and textiles and to connect with the makers of those beautiful textiles. I have long appreciated textiles from the north-eastern Indian state of Nagaland for their attractive colour-combinations, patterning and symbolism of their designs, and was very keen to have a Naga textile for our home. Nagaland is home to sixteen major indigenous tribes, and each tribe has distinct motifs and patterns on their textiles that are deeply connected with their cultural heritage. The textiles are traditionally woven by women on backstrap looms with Naga shawls being the pride of each community.
Browsing the collection from Nagaland on the Antaran website - spanning cushions, runners, stoles and accessories of bags and masks - I was taken by an eye-catching black runner with a pattern of dots and lines in white and mustard yarns, titled Unified, under the Heirloom collection. I selected it and directly connected with Lovitoli, the weaver. A few weeks later the striking runner arrived, never mind all the obstacles of the coronavirus related lockdowns. I messaged Lovi thanking her and asked about the significance of the pattern. She replied the design is called aghunathiye which means paddy seeds, and that this design usually symbolizes that the weaver’s forefathers were farmers or cultivators. The runner is now on the cabinet in our dining room, almost two thousand miles from where Lovi wove it and its quiet beauty and aesthetics brings our home and us much happiness.
For more information visit www.antaranartisanconnect.in
Guest post by Brinda Gill