Nuapatna village in cuttack district of Odisha is famous for the religious textile – Geeta Govinda which was inscribed with 12thcentury poems of Jayadev. In this village weaver’s belonging to Patra, Pal and Kundu caste were specially commissioned to create Khandua pata (silk cloth) for Lord Jagannath. Being Vaishnav devotees, weavers adorned their pata or silk with patterns in the honour of their supreme God. The symbolism associated with Vishu such as Padma (lotus), Sinha (lion), Matsya (fish), rudraksha represents dasavatar - the ten incarnations of Vishnu in textiles .Vaishnav devotees weaved sacred cloth, rendered with love and devotion. It reflected in their practice and belief. With the passage of time, Vaishnav culture flourished and also the several types of khandua.
Odisha Khandua is a famous silk textile known for its curvilinear motifs and intricate weaves in tussar and silk both for religious and local purposes. The age old tradition of khadua pata is a living tradition because the communities have retained this practice till date as their legacy. It is the only kalika vriti –legacy, which weavers have inherited from
their ancestors. Weaving threads of tradition is the main source of sustenance. The beauty of this hand-woven textile lies in the intricacy of ikat pattern, called as Bandha in Odiya Language-it means to resist or to stop dye from penetrating. In this tie and dye resist textile process threads are tied and dyed by hand using a graph according to desired patterns and colours prior to weaving. The process of ikat creation begins from visualisation to translation of patterns into threads inside the weaver’s abode.
This mud house, adorned with wall painting-chita using rice paste by women is the weaver’s studio where the most beautiful textiles are cultured. In Nuapatna single ikat technique is practiced either in the warp or the weft direction. In the process of making tie-dye masters, weavers and dyers are involved. Traditionally, the pata or silk is enhanced with supplementary thread work pattern and rudrakhsa, kumbha and Matsya motifs. Usually mulberry silk in the warp and malda-silk is used in weft for sarees. Thus, a handcrafted ikat saree represents skilled age old tradition and culture.
Kala aur Katha presents contemporary Bandha design story interpreted by Pankaja Sethi and translated by the state awardee – Arjun Pal. He is a weaver and master of Tie-dye process. Arjun Pal lives in Bidharpur village near Nuapatna, Cuttack district with his family. Kala aur Katha team realised mass production of Khandua pata in the name of development resulted in degradation of skill level.
Arjun Pal is one of the rare weaver’s who understands the milieu of present context and believes in experimentation. Even though finance is the biggest hurdle to tackle at the field level he supported his spouse for higher education in nursing so that his family can run irrespective of fluctuations in handloom sector.
In 2007 he associated with Kala aur Katha as a trustee and active member. He learned to access email and thus became more tech savvy. In 2011 Kala aur Katha gifted him Camera because he wanted to document his textiles. In 2012 he was honoured second prize for his natural dyed ikat silk saree in lacquer and catechu. In April 2014 he represented Kala aur katha at Delhi Crafts Council- Kairi exhibition. And now he is on what’s up and shares images directly from loom. This is one of success stories of a weaver from the field.
~ Research story by Pankaja Sethi & photography by Tanuja Sethi