Thursday, November 19, 2009

Design for Nuapatna Weavers

Nuapatana - a village in the Cuttack district of Orissa is a home of skillful, fun loving people. The village carries with itself an 800 year old history in Ikat weaving. Traditionally produced and managed by craftsmen themselves, these products were either consumed by the local population or by people from closeby regions. Today these traditional craftsmen communities are becoming increasingly vulnerable to the challenges of changing socioeconomic realities brought in by an array of ‘emerging lifestyles’. One way to empower the craftsmen to handle such a challenging situation is to reorient their design skills with quality consciousness and market intelligence. This project “Design Intervention in Hand-woven ‘ikat’ Fabrics at Nuapatna, Orissa” was initiated by the department of Handlooms & Handicrafts, Government of Orissa .The project formally began in November 2007 through the 'International Centre for Indian Crafts' at NID and was for a carried out for a period of over 8 months. The challange was taken up by Anup Choudhary, a Textile Design student at NID as part of his final project.

After the initial research, the primary focus was shifted specifically towards improvement of fabric quality rather than just the development of new design range for saris. Training programmes were initiated to make the weavers understand the necessity of new quality parameters besides paying minute attention to details like color matching, edge finishing, etc. These training sessions provided new insights into the weavers' lives. The interactive sessions gradually extended to deal with the issues and problems from micro to macro-level.

The project did have its share of up and downs. Sometimes work had to be completely stopped due reasons such as yarns getting stuck to each other due to extremely hot summer in the region, while on some other days people would simply not work on account of a ceremony in the village. The most crucial challenge was to build a self sustaining work force, where weavers would also spend quality time thinking and not just executing designs as instructed by the designer.

With changing times many elders in the weaver’s community felt that the value of a hand woven cloth is diminishing. Unconvinced with several other design projects done in the region, there was strong apprehension for any more new design projects. It was a tough task to identify a few expert and dedicated weavers, initiating sampling and prototyping, building new networks with select markets and thereafter persuading other weavers from the community to get involved in making new designs that promised better livelihood opportunities. Anup tells that it all was part and parcel of the work but certainly a great learning experience.

Anup's work was displayed at NID recently for his evaluation jury. The range of saris done in double ikkat technique is very exciting. After completing his academic requirements, Anup has committed himself to work as independent design entreprenure with the same group of weavers. He designs and markets his double ikat saris to many retail stores. The quality of work and Anup's level of involvement fairly demonstrates the potential and possibilities of founding new creative directions for traditional but disadvantaged sari weavers. I take pride in sharing a few pictures from his project on this blog. Complete project document is available in Knowledge Management Center at NID.


  1. Superb work Anup!! Congratulations..keep it up!!
    Thank you Sir for sharing the same.

  2. Great work Anup..!:) Thank you Katiyar for this post.. Its very inspiring and exciting to see the journey of this project and Anups work... ! Looking forward to whats ahead. Cheers.