Here’s what Bengalureans can expect at the 31st edition of Crafts Council of Karnataka’s Vastrabharana show

ByFathima Ashraf

Published Sep 28, 2023 | 9:00 AM Updated Sep 28, 2023 | 5:14 PM

Crafts Council of Karnataka is back with the 31st edition of Vastrabbharana (supplied)

Crafts Council of Karnataka’s flagship event Vastrabharana is back with its 31st edition. Opening on Thursday, the exhibition will have on display an exclusive collection of handwoven sarees, yardage and jewellery by 57 artisans and designers from across India.

This year, the theme of Vastrabharana draws inspiration from the rich history of spice trading along the Silk Route within the Indian subcontinent. The five-day showcase will see participating artisans and designers take inspiration from spices and how they engage with our senses.

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Keeping it simple

“This time, our theme is the Spice Route. We have kept it simple and easy. Every time we decide on a theme, we share the mood board, concept notes and creatives with all the weavers who are participating. However, we don’t keep it mandatory for them to follow the theme. There will be certain things that work for them and certain things that won’t. And if they have already decided on what they are going to bring, adding on to it would be a burden. So we have kept it easy,” shares Padmaja Sakamuri, the conveyor.

Taana Baana Kota Doriya (supplied)

Taana Baana Kota Doriya (Supplied)

Spices as a theme work well for weavers because a lot of them use natural dyes for production. And since the audience uses spices in their day-to-day life, the theme will certainly resonate with them too

She adds, “The colour chilli red, the black from pepper, the yellow from turmeric…there are many aspects of spices like their colour, texture, and smell that designers incorporate into their process. Many participants have already come up with concepts within this theme. KaleNele for instance, has come up with a concept of stoles around spices theme. Kapaas has day-wear and night-wear planned around the same. We expect to see each of the brands approach the theme differently.”

Their in-house designer,, Meera Naidu will be working on the central displays around the theme.

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A launchpad for artisans

For this year’s edition, CCK will bring over 18 artisans who are new.

“We have The Mulberry Tree from Assam, Farookjan from Kashmir bringing pashminas and hand-embroidered Kashmiri silk sarees, Unma designs from Chattisgarh, Khadi and cotton from Timbaktu Weaves. From Bengaluru, there is Threads Per Inch with their contemporary sarees, Mumbai’s The Handloom studio bringing Paithani sarees, Habib Design Studio bringing Benarasi weaves and so on.”

Moha by Geetanjali (supplied)

Moha by Geetanjali (Supplied)

This time, several jewellery brands are making their debut at Vastrabharana. Moha by Geetanjali, Aham Jewellery, Flames of the Forest, Alankrita are a few of the lot.

“This year, there is going to be a lot to look around. We have been showcasing the same people all these years. This time, we have decided to change it up,” shares Padmaja, adding that from Karnataka, Vajre Ramesh and Asha Savla will return their products after a break.

There are two exciting additions to the showcase this time: a kiosk featuring handcrafted bindis and a Rajasthani artist who will be at the venue making lac bangles, according to the customer’s taste and preferences. 

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Innovation is important 

To pull off successful editions every year, the team has to stay on top of their ideas.

Innovation is important, Padmaja shares with South First.

“Besides including textiles from all over the country, our focus is to feature artisans who work on niche-worthy crafts. There are people who do stylised Assamese, Odisha, Kashmiri and Gujrati weaves like no one else. We find those people and introduce them at our show,” she elaborates. It’s up to the people to come by and support the artisans, she admits.

“All craftsmen go through their own set of challenges. The public has to encourage them by visiting and buying. At Vastrabharana, there is something for everyone. Everything is not expensive, everything is not cheap either. We have a variety so that we can satisfy everyone who visits,” she notes. 

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Supporting the community

The exhibition is on a mission to promote and support crafts and sustain the livelihoods of artisans.

“We try and help the craftspeople as much as we can. Whatever we get from the exhibition, we put it back to the community by hosting workshops, exhibitions, and crafts shows. So we subsidise the rates or make it free for the craftspeople to come and attend,” Padmaja informs. 

A still from one of the earlier editions of Vastrabharana (supllied)

A still from one of the earlier editions of Vastrabharana (Supplied)

While so far, Vastrabharana has been focusing on sarees and yardage, the team hopes to get into showcasing readymade, eventually.

Discussing how slow fashion is in readymade as well, she shares, “You see a lot of handlooms, there are designers working on khadi, muslin, using block printing, Ajrakh etc. We plan to slowly get into showcasing readymade as well.”

But as far as textiles go, they are definitely a good brand name in the state, she asserts.

People wait for this as we give them a good platform. They always get a good footfall and good sales. Besides, it’s the people who understand textiles that come for the show. People know that good quality is guaranteed here,” she signs off. 

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28 September to 2 October at Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath, Bengaluru