TAASA TEXTILE STUDY GROUP Foreboding Future for Fragile Fabrics An illustrated talk by Sue-ann Smiles 7 May 2014 In this engaging presentation, Sue-ann Smiles, a member of the TSG, examined two very different textile traditions: the gold thread brocade of Varanasi (Benares) and the Chikankari embroidery of Lucknow and how their future is, literally, hanging by a thread. – TAASA Review September 2014

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This article was originally found in the September 2014 edition of TAASA Review (Volume 23, Issue 3, Page 30).

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Sue-ann explored the rich history of Varanasi brocade from early accounts of woven gold thread in Hindu scriptures of the Vedic period, through its peak under the patronage of the Mughal emperor Akbar, to present day production as evidenced by her on a recent visit to the artisans’ studios.

Also discussed was the evolution of brocade looms that has allowed production of an affordable but far poorer quality product.

Due to the high cost of employing traditional weaving methods, the studios still producing the genuine article now have a limited clientele. Sue-ann explained how the production of Chikankari embroidery has also been threatened, initially by low priced mill textiles during the British Raj and after partition, by the loss of major markets particularly Muslim Pakistan...