An American by origin, but an Indian at heart. That defines Sally Holkar. Having been associated with weavers of rural India for over 30 years, Holkar sure is a visionary of sorts. She is not only a trustee of Women Weave, an NGO, which is dedicated to improving the lives of women weavers in rural India, but also founded the Rehwa Society in 1978, which has been working towards reviving the near-vanished craft of handloom weaving. She came to India in 1966 after she married college sweetheart Richard Holkar, son of the last Maharajah of the state of Indore. In the City to organise an exhibition of Maheshwari saree and stoles, she shares her thoughts on the story behind the art and craft of handloom weaving.
Craft is not just about the weaver, it has to tell a story. And, in this exhibition, we have tried to incorporate a contemporary touch to the sarees and stoles. The collection has basic Maheshwari texture along with silk and cotton and khadi fabrics as well, making it a mix of yarns. We have also made them contemporary with the use of colours and by the way, it has been woven.
Women Weave is an NGO dedicated to improving the lives of women living in rural India. The weavers under this NGO are all from non-weaving backgrounds. I believe that weaving is a creative and meditative form of art, and it can be easily done by women in rural India because they primarily stay home and weaving can be done indoors, while having a chat with their peers as well.
Handloom, a thing
of the past?
Handloom is India’s global treasure. It definitely is not a thing of the past, and has great scope in the future. It is something Indians are best at. The only thing is that we should constantly innovate and develop new ideas around it.
An unexpected path
As a child, I never thought I would get into this field. In America, I did not even know that something called Handloom existed. However, having spent over 30 years helping the weavers, I cannot get this out of my system. It is addictive at many different levels --- helping women become income earners and changing their lives --- it is a satisfactory feeling.
The exhibition-cum-sale of contemporary sarees and dupattas will be on at Anonym, Road No. 92, Jubilee Hills, till January 14. Contact: 040-23552386