My Journey - Treasure Trove

Rolls and rolls of borders; Ghosts of saris past - tie-strips from thousands of saris

"We came by the workshop when you were out and took some of your waste material. I hope you don't mind." said one of the pair of French ladies.

"It's not waste. It's a treasure!" - I said aghast. She was talking about my collection of tangail borders, and they had taken a few dozen pieces. To me it felt like theft! And she called it "waste material"?!

These borders are stunning! Sophisticated patterns, refined colours, soft and pliable like cloth (unlike the stiffer metallic zari borders), they are gorgeous pieces of hand-made fabric art.

It takes a weaver an entire day to create just a few centimeters of the most elaborate tangail cloth. Since a full sari is over 5 meters long, it can take months of skilled work to finish just one.

Struck by the beauty of these borders, and mindful of the labour of love that goes into their creation, I have been collecting our tangail offcuts since the earliest days of Rangoli. Long before upcycling became fashionable, our team was lovingly collecting, categorizing and storing each piece of tangail material that was not put to immediate use.

I now have thousands of meters of this border material, in all shapes and sizes, collected over more than 15 years. Many of these border styles are no longer available at any price. Their rarity and beauty make this collection a treasure trove indeed!

The smallest pieces are put to use in our BB gift bag and Rupee coin bag. Slightly larger pieces go into our Passport bags. Rolls and other big pieces are used for our Lila Jhola and in many of my women's Art Wear garments.

More recently I have created a new line of Fabric Art collages using these borders as the basis. These collages are stitched on to t-shirts to create our men's Art Wear T. I have also created a tie design which is defined by border, some of which are from the treasure trove.

Prema F. Isaac