bai lou presented a unique combination of traditional weave structures and contemporary forms through it's exhibition ON THE BANKS OF ICHHAMATI .....
at the International Symposium - Work Shop on natural dyes held in Hyderabad, India from the 5th. till the 12th. November, 2006. The Symposium and work shop was organised by UNESCO and Crafts Council of India.

The exhibition consisted of six hand-woven art pieces depicting the story of the Blue Mutiny.

The Ichhamati (which translates as whimsical or wishful) unites what is now the two Bengals: West Bengal and Bangladesh. Bengal is interwoven by many rivers, on the banks of which was grown indigo. Leading to the Bay of Bengal, the rivers were the lifeline for trade and commerce, used for transport and irrigation of the fields that grew the cash crops of jute and indigo.

Under the rising sun of the British Raj, which was born on the banks of another great Bengal river, the Hooghly, indigo cultivation grew and became one of the most important items of trade for the East India Company.

The East India Company’s indigo plantations sprouted on the fertile fields of Bengal, Bihar and what is now Bangladesh. The relentless exploitation of the indigo cultivators by the colonists led to huge peasant revolts.

The history of indigo can be told through blood. The oppressive system of the colonial powers led to drought and famine, turning the fertile fields into killing fields.

Indigo became a symbol of both colonial oppression and of anti-colonial resistance. The revolts finally ended the indigo cultivation and trade. Later, with the invention of chemical dyes, organic indigo cultivation collapsed. In the past few years a huge interest in organic dyes has brought about renaissance in the cultivation of the indigo plant, mainly in states like Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Assam.

The journey of the Bengal handloom weavers.

Celebration of Bengal textiles.





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