Photoloomic – Baluchari

Mankind has always loved to use images to tell their story. It started with the time our ancestors lived in the caves which has now turned into photography. But still there are various artisans who believe in those primitive techniques to preserve the images. One such is the art of Baluchari weavingof Bishnupur where artisans weave tales in the handwoven silk sarees. Even in the 18th century these silk works were in demand for export in the European ports. In those days, the Nawabs would provide the weavers with cultivable land and ponds for the work. Since the entire work then was manual, a weaver family could not produce more than two to three saris a year but each sari bore a theme which revolved around the life of the Nawabs.

Because of flooding, the Baluchar village got submerged and the artisans resorted to another place provided by the Nawabs which was Bishnupur. Due to relocation and pressure from British government, the weavers had to switch their profession and this line of craft underwent a decline. In the year 1956, this art was revived by giving training to other artisans and thus the town of Bishnupur re-emerged as a center for Baluchari Silk saris. The border and Pallus of the saris have elaborated motifs. The artisans also engraved the Persian miniatures and images in the saris. The duration for the weaving lasts for around 18weeks. The native weavers use Jala looms and first finalize the design on paper which is then transferred to fabric which is used as a master sample. The saris are reversible as the motifs can be seen and understood from both sides. The modern weavers use graph paper and punching cards for designs. They use the Jaquard loom which has reduced the weaving duration to 6 days when 2 artisans work in shifts. Though the ancient village of Baluchar is now submerged, the young generation of weavers are taking the tradition forward.