February 20, 2020
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Shubhanginiraje Gaekwad

The Maharani of Baroda on her bid to rescue MP's traditional weave, the Chanderi

Shubhanginiraje Gaekwad
Shubhanginiraje Gaekwad

What makes Chanderi so special?
It has a diaphanous look and a very soft feel. It drapes well and real gold and silk threads are used in its borders. 

Why is this art dying?
Royal patronage has declined. In the ’70s, the cost of gold and silver went up and weavers started using cheap silk and copper threads with gold/silver polish. 

What are you doing to revive it?
To start with, I have commissioned saris and pagris for my family and I recently organised an exhibition and talk on Chanderi in Delhi. 

Chanderi was used to make pagris of all Maratha states. Till recently, it was believed that the design for the six-inch loom to make pagri material was lost but we have found a person who still knows the art.

Are you getting government aid?
The Craft’s Council has shown interest.

Where can one buy an original Chanderi?
It’s impossible to find an original Chanderi sari at any of the emporiums or shops.

How to identify a real one?
The saris that I’m commissioning will have a government stamp. Otherwise, you can identify with the feel and the drape of the fabric. 

How do you preserve a Chanderi sari?
The tissue saris that have gold thread woven all over should be rolled and packed. Others can be packed in muslin, stored one on top of other and aired regularly.

How old is your collection?
The oldest sari is from the 1930s.

What do you plan to do with it?
My collection is my databank for all reference required for reviving this art. Later, I may put it in our family museum.

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