Blast from the past: Saving the sari

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By Ruchika Vyas

What puts India firmly on the global map are its decades old heritage, rich culture and tradition. It is these priced possessions that Sakshi Rastogi has set out to preserve with her mother Bela. “From designing Polki jewelry to collecting vintage items, even clothing such as brocade blouses with pure zari that belonged to my great grandmother, my mother and I always knew we wanted to do something that was rooted in heritage,” explains Sakshi. “We discovered an enormous lack of value of the quality and craftsmanship for this kind of art, which offers you a piece of history in its authentic form. Each sari we design has its own story to tell and is unique in its own right. With such exclusivity and reasonable pricing, our business aims to actively contribute to keeping this skill alive and providing a means of sustenance to talented artisans.” There has been instant appreciation from connoisseurs of this art form that gave her further impetus to develop her work.

Starting out
She began her research to start up this business three years ago, till she found seasoned weavers who still used old methods of akhda manda — an old form of weaving-and commenced work in September 2008. “At rãsa, we weave Benarasi fabric on handlooms and my mother designs Polki jewelry, an old Moghul form of jewelry-making. We have set up looms in Benaras with a promise to provide work all year round. All designs are inspired by old monuments, ancient costumes, museums and any art that is inspiring.”

What they offer?
A wide range of Benarasi sarees are available in ninth and seventh century patterns, with rich contrasts designed to suit contemporary tastes. Odhnas with antiquated embroideries and pure silver borders, and woven fabrics heavily decorated in gold and silver with old motifs are also available. “We also cater to luxury and boutique hotels and customize weaves for their interiors.”

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