Wednesday, January 21, 2009

INDIAN SARIS: Traditions - Perspectives - Design

ISBN: 978-81-8328-122-5
228pp * HB * 9" X 14"

Published by Wisdom Tree, New Delhi in association with the National Institute of Design(NID), Ahmedabad, India

This latest book by Vijai Singh Katiyar lends a new dimension to the way the traditional Indian sari is looked at, and upholds it as an epitome of holistic design with a unique creative expression. In the backdrop of Indian socio-cultural and economic ethos, the pages inside unfold the mesmerising woven yards of the sari, the quintessential piece of garment that has draped the Indian women since time immemorial.

The sari has been subjected to innumerable cross-cultural influences brought in by the rise and fall of empires that marked the history of India. Perhaps no other textile product reflects the resilience of the Indian handloom sector as the sari, a true example of fine Indian sensibilities.

The volume, with over 892 visuals, aims to delight and enrich the aesthetic experience of the reader with information on a wide range of saris from both the past and the present and ultimately introduces the contemporary design initiatives taking place in the sector. It enumerates the fascinating accounts of the sari’s traditional significance, the diverse styles of weaving, design vocabulary, and even the myriad styles of draping found across the subcontinent. It is indeed a glowing tribute to the magic flowing out of the deft hands of the Indian weaver and to the undeterred artistic spirit of the sari.

The book will be of interest to designers, students, policy makers, technocrats, marketers and businesspersons besides all those who are interested in Indian art, culture, design and fashion.



    Though I was aware Vijai has been working on some publication for long, I was also once coaxed in by him to read through some of the text he has written. But I never saw the final output. It’s only recently when I saw this blog, I barged in his office at NID and asked him to share the book. I was the privileged to be the first person to go through a pre-publication copy of this book. I had expected a tome full of technical details and pure pedagogic compilation or at the most a book with few glossy pictures like in many coffee table publications. Thankfully I was in for a big surprise. That’s how I choose to comment here and being the very first one to review it.
    To summarise my reactions after going through it, I feel that the book ‘Indian Saris: Traditions - Perspectives - Design’ by Vijai Singh Katiyar leads the reader to a complete new journey as it covers a varied range of aspects of a sari-- beginning with design, analysed through design and concluded with design. Perhaps only a designer could see it from so many view points.
    Once one goes through the books, one realises the attention paid to details, visual as well as textual, on every page. One does not come across repetition of content and layout. Interestingly, even the captions include detailed explanations of the images¸ an aspect which is not seen very often in books of such formats. Despite the rich use of colours and design, the author ensures that ‘Indian Saris’, is not confined to being a mere coffee-table book nor does it reek of just a documentation of his experiences. He successfully resists the temptation to steer into either direction.
    Interestingly, he gradually constructs the story of saris beginning with the history of handlooms. He makes you travel with him through various eras, from Indus Valley Civilisation to the Vedic Civilisation to various empires which were established in ancient India. Further on, he continues the voyage into different regions in India explaining, in detail, the types, the designs, the fabrics, the style, supporting his revelations and perceptions with apt visuals.
    Saris, as we all know, nowadays, are worn for special occasions only. So do they have any future? Yes, says the author. The author not only has argued in favour of saris but is also able to suggest the ways to meet this end. After reading this book, one feels assured that there still exist the ways which could lead to a secure future of sari.
    We learn from the past experiences. Isn’t this what traditional wisdom all about? And this is where Vijai seems to have succeeded well.

  2. wow. congrats. saris need their due and its been a long while. hope this is available in crosswords.
    NID PD 2000

  3. Vijaiji, i am very happy for you. I know you have workrd very hard for this book, my best wishes are with you...I know book is going to be a super sucess...I look forward doing more books with you. All the Best