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Hand block printing- the story of a saree's makeover

(Do you have old sarees and dupattas lying neglected in the closet for a long time? Renovate them with the beautiful craft of hand block printing. Here's the story of a saree's makeover, through its own eyes)
 

I will always remember when my beloved owner, Rati, first held me in her hands....I was bought almost fresh off the weaver's loom by her mother- only one of many other sarees that were packed in the bridal box to be sent with Rati, then a new and beautiful bride.
She took me out some weeks later, to wear to a party. Oh, the compliments she got for her beautiful saree i.e. me, and how pretty she was looking...I would have blushed, if I could! It was truly a special day for me... I kept coming out every few months, for some special occasion or the other. I think I was one of her favorite sarees, especially because her husband loved her in that colour. Sigh....those were the days...
After she wore me a few times, someone gifted her another saree in the same color, much more heavy, much more expensive. It was laid beside me in the closet and I remember envying its beauty and finery. The real blow came when Rati stopped wearing me altogether! Occasions came and went...many times the new saree was pulled out to wear and kept back inside the closet, neatly folded. But nothing changed for me. I waited, and waited, and waited....
Months became years became decades. I was now moved to a suitcase full of old sarees. Rati did not want to wear us, but could not bear to part with us either... there were so many memories associated. I had lost all hope of ever being noticed or worn again, and lay there in a half slumber..
Then one day the suitcase opened and my owner, much older now but still beautiful, took me out and cradled me in her hands again. She smiled that lovely smile of hers as she smoothed out my fabric, probably remembering her mother. Her daughter said, "Mamma, get this one hand block printed. If you like it, we'll do the rest too.". 
So I was packed in a poly bag and when I was pulled out again, it was in a small, dingy workshop. A thin, sharp looking man was discussing with Rati and her daughter on how to make me look new again. After so many years, I cannot describe how much I loved the attention! 
He took out a catalog of intricate patterns, which he and the ladies argued about for a long time, before choosing a few motifs. They decided that as I was aquamarine with an olive green and gold border, olive green and blue would work beautifully on me. I liked that idea too, though I could not imagine how they were going to put those complicated looking patterns on me.



Soon a man came with wooden blocks, which were carved in the same pattern as the ones chosen by my owner. He took a block, dipped it in green, and started stamping me with the block. To make sure the motifs were evenly spaced, he used a small stick for measurement. I watched the look of amazement on Rati's face, who seemed to be as new to me as the craft. She said to her daughter "It's already looking so different..." Next he took a different block, dipped it in blue, and started stamping me again.



 
After a while, my makeover was complete. Rati was ecstatic "It's beautiful! What a transformation!" I would have cried, if i could! She thanked the shop owner again and again, promising him she would be back soon, with more old sarees. 
Back home, she took me out of the poly pack again and admired me for a long time, telling her daughter how beautiful and new I looked. To my pleasant surprise, she put me back in her closet and not the suitcase this time.

Soon enough, I was pulled out to be worn at a wedding reception. Oh, the lovely sense of deja vu when the compliments flowed, all over again! "How lovely! Where did you buy it? Oh, you got it block-printed? Where? How? You must tell me, I am going there with my old sarees this weekend..." 
I must say, I have never been happier :) I pray that all old sarees get the same makeover, so that they can feel useful again...after all, we were born to be worn!

 


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