While researching the sarees from different parts of India, for Ethnic Collage, we came across the Begampuri sarees. These sarees intrigued us and further research led us on a trip to Begampur, a small town in Kolkata, known for its handwoven sarees.
We met Mr. Kundu, who was our guide for the next few days.
Earlier these weavers produced ‘matapar’ sarees, which had simple borders without any designs. These sarees were cheap, but failed to compete with the fast-changing fashion world. Customers were looking for variety and simple borders did not appeal to them. The weavers were forced to look for greener pastures, and the number of handloom weavers in this town reduced drastically.
Luckily, the Begampur Handloom Development Cluster intervened and offered training in designing, dyeing, preparatory processes like drum warping, sizing, and so on. The weavers were also trained in dobby and jacquard weaving, so that they could produce diversified products. This training did help the weavers to come up with sarees with intricately woven patterns, which make the Begampuri sarees famous.
We got to see how these sarees are woven in balanced texture with contrasting borders of red, black, blue, and so on and emphasized by a serrated edge motif. We also saw some weavers weaving sarees with narrow and broad borders that had stripes and figured motifs. Mr. Kundu explained that the broad borders were known as ‘maathapaar’ or ‘beluaaripaar’ and were often woven in two colours, such as black and red with a compact weave.
A HandWoven Begampuri with Woven Stripes and Contrast Borders
Now a days, the market is flooded with different varieties of handloom sarees. Sometimes, the customers are unable to identify an original Begampuri saree. Mr. Kundu showed us how to distinguish these sarees. He told us to look for the presence of designs and ‘chiur’ (designs made by wooden pattayas) technique of weaving in some varieties. In Begampuri sarees, contrast colours are usually arranged in body and borders. Also, some varieties are woven with ‘khejurchuri’ though it is originally derived from Dhanikhaligharana.
The trip came to an end. We came back with our stock of Begampuri sarees in some unusual colour combinations.
One of our exquisite collection