Weight in Gold

 The kasavu saris have been contemporised with colours and motifs

The tiny city of Balaramapuram in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, is in a approach an temperament pen for a state. Historically, one of a pregnancy hubs for string handloom fabric, it has turn synonymous with a bullion limit cream kasavu saris and mundu neriyathe (lungi and top cloth). In Delhi, an muster of woven fabric from this city has been brought to Dastkari Haat Studio by Usha Devi Balakrishnan of Anka. With a workforce of scarcely 150, mostly women, Balakrishnan has 20 master weavers whom she engages with for her collection of saris.

Her tag Anka, that translates as ‘close to a body’, is Balakrishnan’s year-old incursion into a normal art of Balaramapuram weaving. Before her retirement from open service, Balakrishnan was also Regional Director of a government’s Kudhumbshree Project.

An beginning to assistance people next misery line, these interactions helped her know a hurdles of weavers from this area. “When we met them they were weaving propagandize uniforms as partial of a supervision scheme. we realised that it didn’t do any probity to their skills. we began Anka as a approach to foster their rarely fit technique of weaving, which, like a Paithani sari, looks a same on possibly side. Basically, there is no wrong side to a sari. The fabric can be ragged on both sides,” says Balakrishnan.

Usha Devi Balakrishnan



The Balaramapuram handloom story goes behind centuries, when aristocrat Balarama Varma and his primary apportion Ummini Thampi invited weavers from Nagercoil in Tamil Nadu in a early 19th century. They were given honour of place in a state to live and work, where they would wobble cloth for a stately family of Travancore.

Weavers from a Shaaliyar village finished Balaramapuram (named after a king) their home and even today, one finds a tradition stability in many households. While it was not odd to find a array dawn in roughly each house, a numbers are dwindling, noted by hurdles from a energy dawn attention and miss of marketplace access.

A educated designer, Balakrishnan has worked with contemporary designs on a normal cream and bullion fabric, regulating colours as good as floral motifs, stripes and dots in innovative ways. “One can’t examination too most on a loom, so we concentration on elementary and superb designs,” she says. Climate-sensitive, these saris are finished to perfection.

“During a new Kerala floods while we were not directly affected, a array looms had turn damp and a weavers stalled work since operative with cream threads meant they couldn’t have them soiled. It has positively slowed down prolongation for daily salary workers,” says Balakrishnan. While Anka sari collection starts from Rs 6,000 upwards, a aberration lies in a brilliance of a zari, a chemical-free cotton, and a position as a tag that straddles modernity and tradition with ease.

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