Weaving Magic in Handloom
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Weaving Magic in Handloom

November 7, 2023

He weaves ‘Gandabherunda’ saree non-stop for 36 hours

By M.B. Pavan Murthy

In a world increasingly dominated by advanced automation, traditional craftsmanship often finds itself at risk, leading to potential unemployment for skilled artisans.

Amidst this challenge, dedicated individuals like A.P. Nagaraj are making extraordinary efforts to preserve and promote the art of handloom weaving. His remarkable achievements are now on display at the ongoing Dasara Exhibition inside the stall put up by the Department of Handloom and Textiles.

During the recently concluded Ayudha Puja, Nagaraj embarked on a relentless journey of craftsmanship, weaving a saree on a handloom, featuring the design of ‘Gandabherunda,’ the royal insignia of the erstwhile Royal Family of Mysore. He took 36 hours to weave the cotton saree.

A.P. Nagaraj displaying the saree with ‘Gandabherunda’ designs.

Starting his feat at 6 am on Oct. 23, he accomplished the task at 6 pm on Oct. 24. In this endeavour, he skilfully crafted a three-and-a-half-metre saree with ‘Gandabherunda’, showcasing an unwavering commitment to his craft. The dark blue saree is beautifully adorned with pink and orange patterns at the border. One side of the saree has 11 ‘Gandabherundas’, in light blue and light pink.

Nagaraj used the technology and the electronic jacquard developed by Dr. H.T. Panduranga, a Researcher and Lecturer at Government Polytechnic, Belur. Dr. Panduranga guided Nagaraj on the judicious use of technology, simplifying the techniques of creating exquisite designs on handloom sarees.

This remarkable achievement symbolises the rich culture and tradition of the region through the handloom art. Nagaraj’s unwavering dedication to this craft has earned him widespread admiration and the Karnataka Handloom and Textile Department, in collaboration with Cauvery Handlooms in Bengaluru, has provided the platform to showcase Nagaraj’s remarkable accomplishments.

A fabric with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a standing posture.

Long-hours weaving

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“Creating a unique record like this during the Mysuru Dasara festival has been a dream of mine for many days. A normal saree comes to six-and-a-quarter metres. I have woven three-and-a-half metres in 36 hours, taking a 15-minute break once every three hours. No one has sat for such a long time to weave a saree,” Nagaraj said.

Nagaraj, who is famous as ‘Kaimagga Nagaraj,’ resides in Banashankari, Bengaluru. He has expressed his intention to present the ‘Gandabherunda’ saree to the Mysore Royal Family for exhibition. Born in 1970 to a poor weaver family, Nagaraj now trains the younger generation in handloom weaving to pass on the skill to whoever interested.

The art of handloom weaving is an intricate craft, often practised by individuals with over 60 years of experience. However, the younger generation is showing limited interest in this traditional art, instead turning to powerlooms. Handloom weaving is a labour-intensive process, requiring 25,000 manual actions to create a single saree spanning 252 inches.

Other forms of craftsmanship

Nagaraj’s practical approach to handloom weaving extends to various forms of craftsmanship. He has produced exquisite fashion fabrics using copper threads for fashion shows and even woven a fabric with picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a standing posture surrounded by Pillars of Ashoka a Tricolour Flag border on four sides with Ashoka Chakras. His most recent achievement is a handwoven fabric featuring the photos of Chief Minister Siddharamaiah and Deputy Chief Minister D.K. Shivakumar.

According to Janardhan, Deputy Director of Karnataka Handloom and Textile Department, it is quite rare for individuals to dedicate such an extended period of time to handloom weaving. Nagaraj’s unique achievement during the Dasara festival holds special significance.

This endeavour received essential support from the Department, demonstrating the collaborative efforts to preserve and promote the rich tradition of handloom weaving, he added.

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Nagaraj’s dedication and commitment are a testament to his exceptional skills and the potential of handloom weaving. He has set an example for others by showcasing the intricacy and hardwork required in handloom weaving. His endeavour is not only a symbol of preserving the art of handloom weaving but also a demonstration of the possibilities it holds for the future, said Karnataka Rajya Nekar Seva Sangha President Shivalinga Tiraki.

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