EMBROIDERIES OF INDIA / PARSI WORK / REVIVING THE LEGACY
Reviving the legacy of 'Gara'
- The exquisitely embroidered Gara saree, can cost as much as Rs 1 lakh and more.
- The reason the gara commands a high price is because — the stitches are very close, the shading is seamless, the Chinese knots or the Forbidden knot is known to cause blindness because of the miniscule size, the motifs are so fine and detailed that the work almost ceases to appear as embroidered.
- This unique art has seen very good times and not very encouraging periods also. It needs the support of a market that can be appreciative of the skill and artistry that goes into the making of a good Gara saree. But times have changed and people’s taste for such exceptional craftsmanship may be there but they are not so willing to pay the price it commands. Mass produced clothing, easily available, much cheaper, have threatened the very existence again of these specially crafted sarees.
- The declining Parsi population is also another cause of worry since it reduces the number of practitioners of this traditional craft.
- Organizations have been working, with the support of UNESCO and the Government of India to revive the craft. Some breathtaking garas have been reproduced under their aegis.
- Efforts by dedicated Parsis, notably the Sir Ratan Tata Institute and a handful of Parsi women, in the last few decades has seen the Gara gradually emerge from obscurity to now basking in global attention.
- Non-Parsis too have patronised the embroidery, adding the work can rightfully be considered an art form.
- The fine silk threads used to do the embroidery with and the Chinese silk fabrics that served as canvasses are now rarely available, if at all. The motifs too are changing as the inspiration is not restricted to the gara's original repertoire.
- An attempt has also been made to contemporize Gara embroidery by creating products like cushion covers, bags and scarves while being sensitive to the original embroidery form.
- Well-meaning individuals and organizations who realize the worth of this precious heirloom of India’s heritage are making their efforts to get the Govt. and governmental agencies to realize the importance of preserving this precious art.
It only remains for concrete steps to be taken to safeguard this valuable asset and encourage new talent in its propagation.