Introduction

 

Taanbaan is a label that produces textiles of excellence in handspun/handwoven indigenous low twist silks & organic rain fed cottons. It is involved n research, revival & development of hand skill techniques particularly in draped unstitched garments, home furnishings, & stitched accessories.

 

Taanbaan was initiated by Rta Kapur Chishti, who is a recognized textile scholar, co-author and editor of the ‘Saris of India’ volumes, as well as ‘Handcrafted Indian Textiles -Tradition and Beyond’& several other publications. As a writer and translator, she has written of the life and work of craftsmen and scripted for films and exhibitions. She is founder of the “Sari School” for those who wish to learn the wonders of this unstitched garment & make it more relevant to their lives today. She has collaborated with The Daksha Sheth Dance Company to create a one & half hour production titled ‘SARI’. As advisor to www.thesariseries.com she and her colleagues Pallavi Verma and Mehak k Chishti trained the models in India & during filming of 82 sari wearing styles in NY.

 

Since 2004 the revival & regeneration of hand-spinning & hand-weaving has been the main focus of Taanbaan. After The Volkart Foundation, Switzerland, supported exhibition titled ‘Khadi’ –The Fabric of Freedom, curated by Martand Singh with Rahul Jain, Rakesh Thakore & Rta Kapur Chishti. The exhibition & its outcome were handed over to Rta Kapur Chishti & her team at Taanbaan led by Pallavi Verma, for its further nourishment & development.

Inception

 

This low tech high skill initiative was started with a push start grant by the Volkart Foundation in Andhra Pradesh where it became self supporting within a period of 16 months. It is now active in three states.

 

The chain of productivity enabled & involved several families including cultivators, spinners, dyers & weavers in an active & life sustaining home based development.

 

Since mid May 2020 Taanbaan is in collaboration with Blue Lotus, a gen next organization of weavers, designers, dyers, supporters of the handcrafted in the quest for sustainability & restrained beauty through wide ranging marketability.

The Team

 

Taanbaan over the years has developed its own method of working as a team combining fixed & dynamic human resources inputs.

 

  • Research /Design/ Marketing 

  • Lead Designer: Pallavi Verma

  • Associates: Deeksha Poddar, Mehak K Chishti. 

  • Taanbaan now in collaboration with Blue Lotus for production & marketing. 

  • Consultants: Pooja Haldar. 

  • Studio: Furkan Saifi, Josephine Paul. 

  • Production: Sh. Veerabhadra & Team, Sh. Thubrikar & team, Sh. Usman & team.

Context

  • In the early 21st century, in the field of textiles, India has been fortunate to have pockets of hand skills that were and could be its greatest and most unique resource for future development given a form of limited period hand holding.

  • At present Taanbaan has sustained hand-spinning on the traditional spinning wheel though this has been entirely decimated in most parts of the country by the semi-mechanized ambar charkha which was inspired by its mill-made counterpart, as it can deliver quantity production but not necessarily the range and quality of the traditional charkha, which are distinctive. Unfortunately, local varieties of cotton & hand reeled silks have been discouraged due to the slow process involved in their making & also through hybridization and genetically modified (GM) varieties in cotton & the over emphasis & importance given to mulberry silks over the indigenous range.

Production 

  • What makes organic handspun handwoven so special & why is it so costly? These are the foremost questions asked when people see a sari or fabric of this variety.

  • This question is primarily related to the small scale & slow speed of the effort involved in producing these textiles.

  • It is capable of growth as a single handloom can support 8 to 12 women & men from the cultivation to the weaving stage. It provides a unique opportunity for home based rural employment & for India to take the lead in providing an ecologically viable industry for organic high value fabrics.

  • Far beyond its soft, supple breathable texture that is apparent & palpable, which could be imitated by machine to an extent, but not replicated. That’s what makes it special for varied usage.

  • It belongs to the genre of ‘human handmade’ which creates its own benchmark whether the fabric is coarse & heavy or fine & translucent, suitable for seasonal & functional requirements.

  • These handspun hand-wovens work hand in hand with the cycle of nature particularly in the case of local cottons in various hues of white to brown, cultivated between autumn & spring in soil & climate they have matured in, over hundreds of years fed only by rain & not dependent on pesticide or fertilizer except a spray of neem oil for protection.

  • In the case of silks hand reeling can provide a wider variety of texture which is not possible by mechanized spinning.

  • The spinning/reeling & weaving skills have been practiced for hundreds of years & attuned by the practitioners to a refined state. Though the practitioners had the option of shifting to other mechanized alternatives, they have chosen to maintain their hand skills largely because of lower investments required, which they find easier to handle & thus have become a long standing tradition. One that is rare & somewhat endangered as quantitative production pushes out this recognition of quality. It is this skill level & knowledge base & continuity which preceded even the Gandhian hand-spinning movement.

Finally

  • Taanbaan believes hand-spun hand-woven is the research & development (R&D) base of the textile pyramid and needs to be sustained for textile development in the fast lane as well. These hand processed spun & woven range of products would also maintain a benchmark of the finest hand worked, patterned fabrics. If their outreach is strengthened, the entire chain could be made viable & sustainable in the long run.

  •  India could perhaps be the only country in the world with this unique resource for a national & international outreach.