Russian Painter Roerich’s Daughter-in-Law Sowed The Seeds Of Kullu Shawls
SHIMLA, (IANS) – It was Russian painter and philosopher Nicholas Roerich’s daughter-in-law Devika Rani, the Indian film star, who came to Naggar in Himachal Pradesh’s Kullu in 1942 where Roerich came in 1927 from St. Petersburg and made the tiny village his home.
It was on Devika Rani’s request that local weaver Sheru Ram of Banontar village weaved an urban-size shawl on his pit loom.
Later, inspired by his handicraft work, Pandit Urvi Dhar stepped into the manufacturing of shawls commercially.
Today, traditional weavers in the hill state have kept the handloom heritage not only alive but also earned a name globally.
The Kullu and Kinnauri shawls are all rare masterpieces of embroidery.
Their products are widely sold in national-level events like trade fairs, Dilli Haat, Surajkund, etc.
Earlier, the Kullvi people used to weave plain shawls but after the arrival of Bushehari craftsman from Rampur in Shimla district the trend of patterned handloom came into existence.
Typical Kullu shawls have geometrical designs on both ends. Besides geometrical designs, the shawls are also woven in floral designs, which may run all over, on the corners or on the borders only.
Each design may have one to eight colors. Traditionally, bright colors, viz. red, yellow, magenta pink, green, orange, blue, black, and white were used for patterning and white, black and natural grey or brown was used as the base in these shawls.
Currently, these bright colors are being replaced gradually by pastel colors.
Much renowned for the convolution and finesse in weaving, Kinnauri shawls are unique.
In October 2010, these intricately patterned woolen shawls hand-woven by the indigenous community of Kinnaur district, were granted a patent under the Geographical Indications of Goods Act. Their elaborate geometrical designs have a strong Central Asian influence. The motifs woven have a very special symbolic and religious significance.