THE BALUCHARI TRADITION OF WEAVING
Silk weaving of Baluchar continues to be an important landmark of Bengal’s handloom tradition.
Skills from South India and Banaras have by and large, overshadowed styles from other regions of India. However, one silk tradition that continues to fascinate, is that of Baluchar, a village situated on the banks of the Bhagirathi, 14 miles from Berhampore town in Murshidabad district. The tradition dates back to the 7th century A.D and since then it has undergone several changes in style and technique in the intervening ages. Murshidabad was a thriving trading center in silks in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, catering to French, British and Dutch demand for this inimitable fabric.
PINNACLE OF EXCELLENCE
The Baluchari tradition of weaving reached its pinnacle of excellence during the reign of Nawab Murshid Quli Khan, who extended lavish patronage to the art. The most distinctive feature of Baluchari is the use of human brocade figures to adorn the borders and pallu. Kings and noblemen seated on howdahs atop elephants and nautch girls in graceful postures were recurrent themes during this period. The motifs were entirely in silver zari and the fabric was a gorgeous affair. However, when Dubraj, the last of the master weavers of Baluchari died at the beginning of this century without imparting his skills to anyone, the glorious tradition ended with him.
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