एकवस्त्रा: Draped in a single frame:

Women and weavers from Mithila


Draped in a single frame: women and weavers from Mithila

Madhubani Literature Festival 21 brings ekvastra एकवस्त्रा in which women styling and aesthetics of Mithila will be showcased through women draped in a single piece of fabric as they often do out of an organic space available for their choices towards body comfort and convenience. Historically women were far more simple in their costume and that they were content with a long robe or sari, wound round the legs and drawn across the breast to fall over their head and shoulder. They covered their body with single piece of 9 yard fabric which was called dhoti/saree.

There were stricter connotations of purity and impurity associated with the onset of sewing machine against stitched clothes. Thus, a longer piece of unstitched cloth was used more as per the traditional norms. Women were perhaps more liberal in their dressing than in the present times when market and beauty industry often define what is comfort and selfhood.

Thus, use of a single fabric can also be seen as a powerful choice by women wearers from the region who have shared a lot with the weaving community in preparing the yarn too. They share a lot of common cultural bonds. Ekvastra is an attempt to present these two important segments of the clothing and textile domain into single frame, and single piece of clothing. ‘If the handloom weavers is to regain the rightful place which he occupied at one time in the Indian Society and economy, it is not sufficient that handlooms should become fashion ware, exclusive, expensive and within the reach only of the elite.

They should be able to hold their own in the competitive market and once again become popular ware…’ wrote Prof. VijayaRamaswamyin The Songs of the Loom. Clothes and clothing have a social life and so does every weave. Every piece of a cloth has a story to tell. Through these three lenses of the wearer, maker and the researcher the proposed event to be showcased during the Madhubani Literature festival 2021 focusses on highlighting many unsaid stories of the handloom weavers and women wearers from the region of Mithila. The event hopes to create a platform to give voice to the unheard sides of our local weavers and women wearers those who can make a choice of her style, substance and appearance.

Handloom industries have been part of the policy making. However, we know that the handloom weavers have witnessed a massive decline in some clusters, due to popularity of new and superior technology in cloth production, globalization and lack of attention from the government policies the handloom weavers have massively suffered. Records show that large scale manufacturers and merchants have managed to prosper especially with those fabrics which were able to create a taste and demand for itself however, weavers who could not adapt to the new market trends are being pushed below the poverty line and further into extinction.

It is hoped that this event on the ‘many tales of the weavers and women wearers in Mithila’ will initiate and be able to make a contribution towards rehabilitation of the weavers of the region. The event hopes to create an awareness and give the right share of acknowledgement to their work and products. It will be through four workshop different segments which are:

  • Fashioning the handloom fabric: The first event will be a fashion show presenting different fabrics and items of clothing made and showcased by the weavers themselves. The maker and the wearer of the cloth will both be highlighted in the show. The fashion show will also have a short documentary on the lives of weavers and women styling.
  • A photo exhibition: The second event of photo exhibition hopes to bring out the cultural history of dress and fashion in India. It will also have a section on history of handlooms in India.
  • Exhibition of weavers work through stalls: Different weavers will be able to put up their stalls in the spaces provided to them.
  • Workshop on textile fashion :The workshop will focus on knits and prints which are the major components of the woven product.

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