“Gold”, the art of zari exhibition presented by Swati and Sunaina, curated by Mayank Mansingh Kaul

The Bikaner House, New Delhi, 11 am to 7 pm. Friday, September 22nd to Wednesday September 27th 2017

“The oldest reference for fabric made with gold is found in the Rigveda from more than 3,000 years ago. The exhibition celebrates the process of making the purest form of silver and gold zari – metallic yarn used in hand woven textiles – today. The works of Swati & Sunaina GOLD revisits this tradition, kept alive by the last surviving artisanal zari workshop in the world in Banaras”, says curator Mayank Mansingh Kaul.

“Our journey explores cultural traditions. With this exhibition, we want to take visitors on a behind-the-scenes journey of one of the rarest and most fascinated weaving traditions of India where molten silver is processed to become spools of silver threads, electro plated with gold and then woven into a textile of silk or cotton”. Say textile designers Swati & Sunaina.

The use of metallic, gold thread and yarns has been a distinguishing feature of historical textiles around the world. From European brocades and Iranian velvets to Chinese silks and Indian saris, its continuing relevance in contemporary times, reflects an enduring human fascination with notions of purity, the sacred, power, nobility and precious materials.

In a rare exhibition, the process of the making of zari is presented in a multi-media presentation using photographs, film and video projections highlighting one of the last ateliers in India committed to keeping alive this tradition. The intention of exhibition is to revisit the art of fine zari-making today, and bring alive an experience of how it continues to shape concepts of excellence in artisanship.

The exhibition will showcase some fine examples of brocaded textiles using gold-coated silver thread and metallic-gilded yarns. These are being drawn from private collections and range from the period of the 1940s to the present. The contemporary textiles that will be presented are designed by Kolkata-based designers Swati Agarwal and Sunaina Jalan. Their interpretations of classic Indian designs for brocaded, draped textiles use the purest form of gold-plated silver zari being made today in India. Certified and authenticated for their purity, these textiles are reminders of traditional textile arts of India that referenced jewelry and ornament.

Swati & Sunaina “Gold Collection” will also be available exclusively for retail at VAYU, Bikaner House from September 23rd to 27th 2017.

About Swati & Sunaina

The elegant women behind the label, Swati Agarwal & Sunaina Jalan, came together in 2007 in Kolkata with a conviction to bring back the lost treasures of Indian woven textiles and offer them to a discerning audience that truly appreciates craft and the effort of master craftsmen.What started as an enterprise of passion with small batches of hand woven sarees in different pure textiles, in 2015 led to the launch of their eponymous label.

Swati and Sunaina’s label is based on the ideology of reviving and supporting the craft and craftsmen with purity of intent, materials and design. All the handloom saris at Swati and Sunaina are made on the pit looms of Banaras with same technique that has been passed on for generations by master craftsmen who have kept this craft alive. The use of pure certified gold zari to weave saris intricately with artistic mastery has been the hallmark of the label that consciously chooses quality over quantity. Each sari comes with a spindle of the zari yarn that was used in weaving along with a certificate of authenticity of the purity of gold plated sari made from silver of 98.5% purity as well as provides details of the weavers.

Experiential acquisitions: The Swati and Sunaina escapade comes alive as much in its experiential form as in the acquisition and adorning of the beautiful textiles. Step into a languid world as notes of Jasmine fill your senses and light strains of music evoke a desire to open the special cupboard made of seasoned Burma teak and browse through the elegant saris curated by colour. The more delicate sarees like tissue and Rangkaats are placed in rolls wrapped in Muslins.  The store has two wings : wing one is by appointment only , and wing two houses Muslins and others fine silks. All these beautiful textiles are held together in the plush velvet lined interiors of a very special antique mahogany cupboard made by erstwhile The Bombay Art Furnishing Company. Sit back and enjoy a steaming cup of coffee or tea as real zari saris carefully wrapped in white muslin are unfurled. As you share your choice and preference of a sari, slowly the drapes begin a roll out on the tables which have been created with old silver legs of khaats used in the Shekhavati region of Rajasthan.

Curios and craftsmanship: A set of ornate keys have been fabricated for the store, reminiscent of the ways of the old world onto an old necklace of the Chinese ‘Miao’ tribe of Guizhou Provence – the inspiration for a sari from the Shambhavi collection and an old jacquard machine that is used to weave sarees in the city of Banaras are some of the curios which evoke nostalgia and warmth as you walk through the store and enjoy the nuances and attention to detail. Reclining against the wall is an old Veena, a musical instrument associated with goddess Saraswati, as an ode to the great Indian craftsmanship.

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