As you watch Adwaya* hunched over, her hands sewing used saris, you can’t help but look on in awe.
Each stitch, each motion of her hand, each bead of sweat on her brow creates something new. Something beautiful.
Adwaya has become a master of her craft – a master of ‘kantha’. Kantha is a Bengali embroidery style, passed down from generation to generation. Old saris are stacked and sewn together with a single running stitch to create something new.
This ancient tradition is kept alive within the walls of Sari Bari. Kantha is in the very fibre of our products… it not only holds our blankets together; it holds our business together. We have many skilled kantha artisans, including Adwaya.
Adwaya has been part of the Sari Bari family since December 2009. Her mother taught her the art of kantha when she was a little girl living in Bangladesh.
As Adwaya shares her story, her face lights up…
She tells of how her mum wanted to teach her to sew, so she would be prepared after leaving home. Adwaya also learnt to sew from another lady in her village – when everyone went to the fields, Adwaya would watch this woman as she sewed many different designs.
When Adwaya left home, she took with her one of the blankets she had made. Many years later when working in one of Kolkata’s red light districts, someone saw her blanket and offered her a new job. She initially worked for one of Sari Bari’s partner organisations before joining Sari Bari.
It took some time for Adwaya to adjust to Sari Bari’s style of stitching, but it didn’t take long for her to excel. While other women’s blankets had to be unpicked and fixed, Adwaya never got poor feedback about the quality of her work. At one point, she was making 7 or 8 blankets a month.
Adwaya is now part of the quality control team – she inspects all finished products, including the stitching, to ensure they pass Sari Bari’s high quality standards. Gradually, she’s taking on more and more leadership responsibilities.
Adwaya says she loves Sari Bari. She comes into work early every day and helps wherever she can. She’s received so much and is very grateful.
The whole concept of ‘new life in the making’ at Sari Bari is embodied in the kantha art form. Each woman turns a used sari into something new – a new creation.
Order one of our products online tody and see the exquisite kantha art form for yourself – you won’t regret seeing this new life in the making! Unwrap your product at home and feel love oozing from each stitch.
Written by Nicole Peck
*Name has been changed.