WEAR THE GARA AND WATCH THOSE HEADS TURN
Aflutter of silk, a burst of bloom, yard of delicate verse wrapped elegantly around you…
Nothing can be more beautiful than the gara the gorgeously embroidered Chinese silk sari. That is now a collector’s item, being handed down from one generation to the next.
Over a century and a half ago, unknown Chinese embroiderers worked with such dedication on a six – yard piece of silk, that it is believed each one ‘specialised' in a particular motif; one artisan spent his entire life doing leaves, another, flowers, yet another, pagodas. The entire sari – so finally done that the background colour of the cloth could only be seen as outline – was executed by a number of workmen.
In India, it is the Parsis who are the keepers of this tradition, so to speak,
For their trade links with China resulted in garas being made for the women of that community in ancient times. Carefully handed down from mother to daughter, the gara has in recent times been donned by the late prime minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, and Mehr Jesia, Miss. India 1986. In mint condition, such garas command anything from Rs.4, 000 to Rs.40,000.
At the same time as the ancient Chinese art is being revved in the home of its origin, Naju Daver in Bombay has done a remarkable job of reviving the beauty of the age-old gara. In olden days, garas was executed on several verities of Chinese silk like gaaj, paaj, ghat and crepe. Though Naju uses synthetics with fast colors and pure silk, the designs have been faithfully copied recapturing a beauty that was fast beginning to fade. There are techniques by which existing threads can be aged to look similar to the original kind.
The actual making of new gara can take anything between to and six months, depending on how intricate the design is. And the designs are invariably intricate.
Naju Daver’s creations will be on display at Tejpal Art Gallery between October 15 and 18. Though the theme is that of the gara, she has also included the imperative of tradition – bound bridal saris. Her repertoire includes innovation as well – designs with sequences, two –tone reversible saris with classic patterns and unique jari borders.
The sari is always an attractive garment, but when you wear a gara, that’s when heads will really begin to turn.
By A Staff Writer (The Afternoon).