Anything that can be seen or imagined can also be woven – Shyam Sundar Karan, the Master Weaver of Maniabandha

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Shyam Sundar Karan – the Master Weaver of Maniabandha.

Shri Shyam Sundar Karan of Mania Bandha is a master weaver who loves to innovate. He has a penchant for putting every design he sees into his intricate weaves. This has earned him accolades and numerous state as well as national level awards. With extensive knowledge of all types of handlooms he loves to mix weaving patterns to create unique pieces. Shyam Sundar, having been given the title of Shilpa Guru, conducts regular training for new weavers inspiring them to innovate and meet the current demands of the market.

On taking a shift from the traditional motifs found in the handloom weaving patterns of Odisha, our master weaver says, any thing seen tangibly or in imagination can be weaved intricately into a piece of cloth. That’s the beauty of the art. He says, to put a new design to weaving it takes anything between One to Three months. The design, seen as an object or imagined in thoughts, is put on paper first as a sketch.

Then it is expanded to the exact size as is intended to be put on the cloth to be weaved on a graph paper to determine colouring pattern of each strand of the cloth.
With a new design about to be loomed into a cloth

Precise measurements of parts of figures in each sqaure of the graph paper is taken to work out the exact extent of colour pattern on the strands. Its kind of a mathematical process by which arrangement of colours on separate threads is worked out. One strand may have many colours. After numbering threads as per their placement along the breadth and length the tedious process of tie and dye as per the exact measurements starts. The area of the bundle of the thread intended to be dyed with a particular colour is left open whereas balance portion is tied with waterproof material, after which the dye is applied. Thereafter its a repaeat procedure for each colour as per measurements taken, before the strands are arranged for weaving in the handloom. Here the numbering of strands comes handy. The product is incredulous

Threads counted, numbered and arranged before dying
Dyed threads put to dry under the Sun

For a lay man its difficult to fathom how the strands are arranged, dyed and then woven to get such beautiful patterns. Before we saw the process first hand, never had we imagined that the threads were coloured before weaving in such a mathematical and organised pattern.

For a better quality output, threads for max Three sarees at a time can be tied and dyed which increases the production time and cost. For general designs, not requiring fine finish, threads for upto Nine sarees can be dyed at one time. More the design in the body, more is the tying and dying, as well slower is the weaving, inceasing the time required and the cost of production.
Shyam Sundar Karan says, he has put into weaving many things, starting from paintings to sculptures, which have fetched him the awards and accolades that he proudly displays in his modest home. In the picture below, he had seen this painting in the house of a an artist and he chose to put it into weaving which won him an award. 
On computer aided designs, he says that it has facilitated production of the base drawings on graph paper. However due to lack  adequate facilities including printers giving output of such size in the area artisans generally depend on the traditional methods. 
Various Bhava (expressions) like Krodha (anger), Shanti (Peace) woven in a Saree
Various Bhava (expressions) like Krodha (anger), Shanti (Peace) woven in a Saree
Alphabets of Odia Language woven in a saree
The word ‘Maa’ woven in a saree in 11 languages of India

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