Forgotten weaves ~ Punarjeevana ~ Hemalatha
Patteda anchu is also known as dundina seere or devaru seere or laxmi seere. Jedara Dasimayya wrote about it in the 10th century. He talks about colours and weaves. There is literary evidence which shows the presence of weaving in Gajendragarh from the 10th century. Patteda anchu saris were woven in and around the villages of Gajendragarh, Belgum, Raichur, Kodal, Bedar, Bellary, Gulbargah and Dharwad in Karnataka. The sari is named after the pattern (border and checks) of the sari.
Fascinated Hemalataha went on a discovery trail and found that these sarees were gifted by the father to his newly married daughter who gifted it to the Yellamma devi the Goddess of the Devdasis. The search took her to Radha Amma, one of the surviving few now 90 years old who refused to divulge any information initially but Hemalatha’s persistence found her sharing anecdotes and they found a scrap of the original saree stitched into a quilt. On testing, the cloth was found to be 200 years old.
Meanwhile she has discovered six other weaves which are work in progress. She has launched the second which is Gomi Teni. These are similar to the Patteda Anchu sarees but have a herringbone pattern in the border, representing the grain husks symbolising prosperity. This saree is gifted to pregnant women especially during Sankranti.
Hemalatha found an old weaver who was reluctant to weave one for her. Her stubbornness and tenacity over six months persuaded him to weave a sample. The same strategy worked for the uncooperative local artisans to dye the yarns. Hemalatha started a statistical survey to map this revival weave to the consumer’s contemporary reference point. She improvised with colours and the traditional six yards has added yardage and scarves to her repertoire.
Realising the reluctance of the modern generation to wear sarees with the misconceived notion of the process being cumbersome she launched the zero maintenance saree. With a thicker thread count in the borders and a rough texture this saree doesn’t need ironing and becomes softer with every wash.
Today the no of weavers she employs is 45 – and she started with one. The costing for the saree includes bonus for the weavers who are stakeholders in the Self Help Group. She wishes to make it self reliant and move on. The weavers are happy and proud and are promoting younger weavers not only for a financial reason but to preserve the culture and take it forward. Sustenance of traditional craft indeed!
The saree is authentic different from powerloom versions and one has to smell it to smell the rice flour starch. This phenomenal entrepreneur has applied for a GI registration. She has developed innovative natural dyes and has applied for a patent. This lady has gone back to our Shastras and her dyes are eco friendly and she reuses medicinal waste. Back to the basics! With an incredible vision and purpose.
These sarees are woven on Pit looms which are the soul of the family. When this occupation dies the pits are filled in and its death is mourned by the community. The bereavement is long gone and the whole community is celebrating life – Rebirth! Appropriately her organisation is called Punarjeevana or New Life!
Trivia about these sarees.
- In ancient days the saree was woven on Pit looms due to the powerloom and globalization the demand for the traditional saree went down and production of Patteda Anchu stopped.
- In Karnataka sarees have two borders and pallus and sarees are reversible. In the evening before freshening up the saree is worn with the other border on top reverse it.
- The detailing in pallu including stripes and other designs are different according to hierarchy of castes
- These sarees were never black even though contemporary designs have a profusion of black
- The Lingayat communities shifted to cities and the width of the sarees increased
- The Patteda Anchu sarees are gifted to new brides to be given away and the Gomi Teni to pregnant women to symbolise prosperity.
- This is not the Ilkal and unlike the Top Teni aanchal has solid coloured “pattas”
A lifetime of devotion to finding their roots - resurrecting the weavers, let us share their cause. Wear the six yards with pride ~ Wear a handloom ~ It is the idea ~ It is the concept ~ It is India ~ It is me!
The reason to wear these woven textiles!
Hemalatha in her signature Patteda Anchu. With Rohit Phalgaonkar
Patteda Anchu in its various hues
Gomi Teni with the herringbone border