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When they found this exquisite silk, the experienced silk painters at Kinetika fell in love with its rich texture and ability to hold colour.
Realising that the skill to make it was dying out, they have begun to sell it in the UK with the hope that it will keep the tradition alive.
Quality control is monitored locally by the Crafts Council of West Bengal, which ensures that weavers are appropriately paid and can respond to meet the demand of a global world.
In the UK, proceeds of sales support Kinetika’s charitable work.
With its ability to hold bright colours, soft but durable texture, and limited availability, Murshidabad silk will really make your next collection stand out from the crowd!
Kinetika is internationally renowned for creating stunning large-scale hand-painted silks, using the process of batik to make beautiful flags, costumes and products for the last 25 years. While developing the Silk River project in India, Kinetika was introduced to a very fine, high quality 100% hand-woven silk from Murshidabad, a district in West Bengal.
However, in recent times, there has been very little demand for producing the heavy silk cloth known as dotari/ teentari.
Kinetika were very keen to work with this exquisite silk and through the Crafts Council of West Bengal (CCWB) were able to connect directly with the local weavers who still had the old looms and the required level of skill.
As a result, 158 square metres of this unique silk was hand painted for Silk River, making 22 huge silk scrolls in all. The closely-monitored dying process revealed how wonderfully this fabric retains the colours of the dyes and how soft it is against the skin.
Realising that the weaving skill required for this heritage fabric is in danger of being lost, Kinetika is now working closely with Ajoy Kumar Saha, a local silk merchant and CCWB to make it available in the UK to silk painters and lovers who will appreciate how unique it is.
The silk is woven in Dangapara, a small village in Murshidabad by 14 families of weavers who are the last generation who have this skill. Kinetika hope that by creating a new demand for this silk, they will encourage this community to continue this ancient tradition.
The Crafts Council of West Bengal said:
It turned out to be a great revival project as the weavers were contacted, convinced through a series of negotiations that it would be a wonderful opportunity to recreate the superior quality silk on a pilot basis for an international project. The weavers rose to the challenge and the silk for the scrolls was woven on looms that had not done so in recent memory.
The success of the Silk River scrolls in telling the story of the British connection to India, from the past to the present will restore Murshidabad’s place in the history of Empire – as a centre of trade and a producer of exquisite silk.