Research and documentation
Anakaputhur, Tamil Nadu | NID Ahmedabad - 2018
I chose to document and understand the weavers’ evolution in Anakaputhur as it is a paradigm of the conflict between craft and industrial sectors—one of the biggest problems in a country like India with its deep roots in tradition and craft culture. The constant overlap of style and the consequent demotion of identity of the crafts, affects the artisans’ livelihood. Their skills are often undermined and the value of it is lost. Their journey can inspire future crafts in finding a balance between tradition and change. Traditionally being cotton weavers, the community has managed to find their livelihood in discovering ways to tap into nature's other resources and now weave with a wide variety of unconventional natural yarn.
This document starts by telling the story of a small weaving community in Chennai with a hazy past going back to when the region was famous for the weaving of Madras Checks. The Real Madras Handkerchief (RMHK)—a square cloth containing the pattern of the checks— has had a colourful and rich past and has played a big role in how the history of Madras has shaped itself.
A deep dive into the history of the RMHK reveals that the fabric that was considered a local traditional drape of the Kalabari tribe in Nigeria, was exported from the ports of South Eastern India.
The lives of the weavers in this suburb have changed considerably over the years and my aim was to understand this change and transition. Chapters 5 and 6 of the document illustrate the processes involved in making the unique products.
Photography by - Shubhanjay Sathe, NIFT Chennai
In conclusion, the document explores the possibility of material exploration bringing dying traditional crafts into relevance for the world today. It deliberates upon how the younger generation can be introduced to such circular systems in school, thus making them informed and more involved in the rich knowledge and skill of artisans.