May 13, 2013

Puttapaka, the weaving village

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Back at the blog after a long time. 

You stand on a beach with the waves caressing your feet and legs. As the waves come and go, you go deeper inside, and soon get addicted to the feel of the water against your legs, and you find that you cannot walk away from the lapping waves. I read somewhere that having a family is like this. With schools and colleges closed for summer vacation, both children are home and a lot has been happening, which has made me live with contentment in the real world, without having to lean on blog space or Facebook for company. But here I am anyway, for I missed writing, and I guess my brain needs some exercise! 
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Among other interesting happenings this summer, six of Ragini's friends from the Fashion Design stream of Symbiosis Institute of Design, Pune, came to Hyderabad to study the Teliya rumal weaving done at a village called Puttapaka. During their last day there, we visited the village despite the scorching heat, simply because we would otherwise never make a trip there. Puttapaka is about 70 km from Hyderabad. After Ramoji Film City, at Chotuppal, one takes a right turn to go to this village. The road is narrow and is bad in some places, but is doable. The happiness of leaving urban chaos behind to head towards the tranquility of a village should be an incentive.

In Puttapaka, there is no sign of its exquisite weaves. No shop, not boards, nothing. So much so, the weavers are not even interested in showing us their process or the sarees. We did see some fabulous pieces, but they were collector's items and not for sale.

The board doesn't indicate how special this village is.  

 Puttapaka is a village with charming houses...

 ...and neat streets. Why don't I live here?

 It was fun to watch the students do a photo shoot. 
What the model is wearing is one of the authentic sarees...it is 25 years old! 

 Another classy saree...they don't make them any more :(

 More real stuff....stoles and dupattas

 A saree on a loom. Not sure if they were weaving this or it was only an exhibit.

 One of the Gajam brothers outside his home. This is the dyed yarn drying in the sun.

 Tie-and-dye. They use pieces of rubber from old cycle tubes to cover the threads.

Disappointment...there are no authentic Teliya rumaal sarees available. What they had were the ordinary Pochampally sarees that you get in any store in AP 


We saw a saree that had won its weaver a national award. However, we were shocked to see that after winning the award, the weaver's wife, to whom the saree belonged, decided to do some cheap embroidery on the saree. SOMEBODY TELL THEM.

Our trip was too short to really understand the situation. But what I gathered from my visit and the subsequent reading was that one of the main problems being faced was dearth of weavers owing to their migration to cities. Also, the process being exacting and time consuming, the weavers were not able to invest   the amount of time and labour needed. Added to this was the lack of skilled weavers, as most of them were old, the younger ones not having learnt the craft, preferring to take up small jobs in the city.  

However, looks like they manage to supply to the Bold and the Beautiful, the Rich and the Famous of Delhi and Hyderabad. No complaints...if the above categories are helping keep Puttapaka afloat, then let them wear their best weaves.

We enjoyed spending the afternoon and evening in the quiet of the village, broken by the clack-clack of the looms as we walked past their homes. It was enlightening, uplifting and saddening, and we came back with a fervent wish that we could do something to help revive this traditional craft to make it available to the Simple and the Ordinary and the Wise and the Wonderful, to whom it should rightfully belong.

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Also read  "Fraying threads", The Hindu, 13 April 2013
More info here

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