Handloom Revivalist Smriti Morarka’s new collection brings alive the Benaras experience
The ancient civilisations of both Turkey and India have a similar passion for the woven textile. The exuberant use of metallic thread embedded in the softest silk, the great care given to stylized motifs and precision weaving were their shared hallmark and imagery and iconography transcended geographical borders, including Buddhist influences reflecting in the Ottomon textiles.
To celebrate together this great heritage of textiles, Ms Leyla Torunlar, wife of H.E. Şakir Özkan Torunlar, Ambassador of Turkey to India, invited handloom revivalist Smriti Morarka and her team of Benarasi weavers at their official residence at 22, Prithviraj Road, New Delhi.
The objective was to introduce the audience to the Banarasi process of weaving and the hands that work the looms and the mind that plans the context of the textile. In an unusual gesture, female members of the weavers’ families were also present, and endorsed their age-old artistic excellence.
Smriti and her team of weavers staged live looms as master weavers showcased their skills. As live classical musicians played tunes to export the audience to the land of Ghats, there were small salons where the original weavers from Varanasi along with a woman member of their family were spotted casually interacting with each other. The women were dressed in TANTUVI Sarees by Smriti Morarka. Visitors could interact with them as well as see the garments.
“Being able to showcase the very best from the looms of Benaras to the discerning patrons in Delhi is always a privilege. This time it was even more special as we were able bring to the fore the hands behind the looms that work tirelessly to create these magnificent works of art” said Smriti Morarka.
Additionally, a 3-minute trailer to a documentary film titled Bunkar – The Last of the Varanasi Weavers, that premiered in the Indian Panorama at IFFI this year, was broadcast on the weavers of Varanasi. The documentary, played on loop, was fully subtitled in English.
While on one hand, there was a setup of a Benarasi shop to exhibit sarees, on the other, a fashion consultant from Mumbai tutored the audience about modern, interesting ways of draping a Banarsi by demonstrating the same on contemporary Indian models.
And while the guests enjoyed being in the Benaras, they indulged in some Banarsi delicacies, specially curated for the evening. Delhi’s prominent citizens including spouses of Ambassadors of various nations to India, historians, fashion designers, blue-chip entrepreneurs, socialites, art curators, textile connoisseurs and patrons, well-known journalists and bloggers were spotted hobnobbing.