Indigo bunting pakhi
They say that when you hold a butterfly, some of its colour gets stuck to your hands. I would never try that because I am paranoid that I would hurt the butterfly unintentionally. Also, maybe the fact that I am more of an observer rather than a participant in this world plays a role. However, even with just observing, an indigo bunting left its colours on my heart. Maybe the moment was just perfect or maybe the glorious colour of the bird left little choice. But, it has left its colours on me and I cherish that in the quiet hours of each day!
This unique made in heaven mul saree in teal and yellow is just utterly pretty!
Length: 5.5 meters ; Width: 47 inches
Blouse Piece: No
1. Hand wash separately in cold water and salt
2. Don't soak it in water for more than 5 minutes
3. Medium iron
Blouse: Su, the model is wearing a blouse called Sunshine Feathered -
and the Jacket is named as Birdsong -
Fabric: Mul Cotton
Disclaimer: Slight colour variations are due to photography location and light conditions
No matter how much we move forward in time, it is often our very roots that hold us in place. As far as our fabrics are concerned, we are in an age of constant innovation and up-gradation. Even so, our love for age-old crafts and processes like block printing can never fade. Block printing is an art that is at least a few centuries old. Especially in India, the art has evolved to incorporate the motifs and designs of different regions. It is a process of printing designs on a base fabric using wooden stamps dipped in dye. The charm lies in the fact that all the steps of block printing are done by artisans using their hands. Right from carving the wooden stamp, which itself requires a lot of expertise and skill, to printing the fabric and drying it, each step is carried out by dedicated artisans. The intricately carved stamps are a wonder by themselves and there are separate sects of artisans who specialise in this and create highly nuanced wooden stamps using chisels, drills and hammers. Once this is done, mustard oil is applied to the stamps and they are left to soak up the oil to prevent cracks. Meanwhile, the base fabric is washed and dyed. Handloom fabrics are most preferred as they absorb the colours of the print gorgeously. Following this, the fabric is laid out on a flat surface and held in place with small pins. The wooden stamp is dipped in the chosen dye and then slammed onto the fabric in one forceful motion. The entire saree or as much as required is printed this way by consecutively pressing the stamp on the fabric with force. To make sure that the print doesn’t get distorted, sawdust is sprinkled on the saree once the printing is done. After the process is over, the saree is washed and dried. The patience, skill and creativity of artisans come forth brilliantly with a hand block printed saree. There are bound to be small irregularities in the print as a result of human error and that lends a whole new level of allure to this art-form.
The block-printing on this saree is done on a made-in-heaven mul cotton fabric which is lighter than air and loved by our Suta Queens immensely.
The mul cotton is what we call ‘made in heaven’ at Suta. Known in West Bengal as mul mul, the fabric is what can be categorised as muslin cotton. It is believed that this fine method of weaving cotton can be traced back to even before the Indus valley civilization. What makes this fabric special is the almost magical process of weaving it. Cotton fibres are separated and spun into strong threads. The lightest and the most delicate fibres are separated and are then spun into muslin thread. These are then woven into fabrics by skilled weavers. The history of muslin weaving is a beautiful chapter in the history of Indian textiles. The process of the yore was much more complex and involved many unique tools that look primitive but worked like magic. The upper jaw of a catfish was used to initially clean the cotton before spinning. To separate the lightest fibres, a Dhunkar (a bamboo bow) was used, which when strung in a distinctive way made the lighter fibres rise above the heavier ones. This process gave the title ‘woven air’ to the muslin fabric.
Weavers famously wove on looms that were at ground level and operated the looms from pits dug in the ground. Even during the Mughal era, the muslin fabric was seen as a symbol of power for its finesse. History is full of anecdotes to prove the awe that the muslin fabric generated. Emperor Aurangazeb is said to have chided his daughter Zeb-un-Nisa for appearing naked in the court when in reality she had been wearing several layers of the muslin cloth! Such was the fabric’s delicateness. The almost invisible fabric had made an Arab traveller in the 10 th century remark that the degree of fineness is such that a garment can be drawn through a ring of a middling size. During the British colonisation and even during the Mughal rule, the art of weaving muslin took a hit as weavers were treated poorly and drought hit many of the weaving centres. As a result, today, the process of weaving has seen a lot of change. Nevertheless, the essence of it hasn’t changed and the charm of the fabric still remains.