[Tweet “Genuine Madras Check is Guaranteed to Bleed”]
Bleeding Madras Check!
Now why would anyone in his right mind buy a fabric that bleeds? Well, it would seem the right thing to do if you were a rich American holidaying in the Caribbean during the Great Depression.
Madras check has a checkered history and it is worth noting that the city of Madras owes its very existence to the cloth that the British wanted. Madras cotton has been around for years as a cheap cloth worn by the poor working class men. It is characterised by a patterned plaid that looks the same inside out. It is handwoven and rough with slubs because it is made of short staple cotton fibre that can’t be combed.
This lightweight fabric is still in great demand overseas especially for casual wear and used in both men’s and women’s garments. And even though the colours bleed with every wash, this is considered an advantage rather than a flaw !
Madras has long since changed to Chennai but the fascination for this fabric still remains. Check out this fabric for yourself and find out why.
When silk meets cotton you get the sari from Maheshwari
On the banks of the Narmada, the small textile town of Maheshwar has been weaving its saris for many centuries now. It has a distinctive weave of self woven stripes or checks and is a blend of cotton and silk. Handwoven to yield a fine tissue like fabric, this fabric is fit for a queen.
It is said that Rani Ahilya Bai Holkar , the warrior Maratha Queen, brought along two weavers from Gujarat to weave saris that were Regal enough for a queen yet simple enough for a young widow.
Its richer cousin the Chanderi takes its inspiration from nature . The Maheshwari motifs are inspired by the severe walls of the fort which are seen in the borders of the sari . Traditionally, the sari was in dark, somber colours , especially the saris I remember my mother wearing . I loved their thin self woven stripes in a shade slightly darker than the base colour.
Today’s Maheshwari has replaced the maroons, aubergines, deep green, dusky browns and black by lighter pastel shades .
However, innovation was necessary to keep this handloom industry alive. And once again, it is the descendants of the Holkar Queen who have come to the rescue with their not-for-profit organisation Rehwa . Thanks to their efforts, this handloom town is buzzing once again with weavers busy making fabric for saris and more.
I do hope you are enjoying these textile traditions of India.
Wishing all those celebrating a happy Easter, and to all those participating in this challenge a happy Sunday break!
See you on Monday.
Disclaimer : I am neither a textile manufacturer nor a historian . I am just passionate about textiles and fabrics. I have gathered all my information from the Internet. Please excuse any errors and omissions.