Coming from a humble background, Krishna Devangan belongs to the Devangan community of Champa in Chhattisgarh. Known for their age-old weaving occupation, the Kosa Silk is woven by this community is said to be the best variety of silk in the whole world. Drawn out of cocoons which are especially grown on specific trees known as Arjun, Saja and Sal trees, Kosa silk is popular far and wide for its sturdiness, softness, and elegance. The production of a single metre of Kosa Silk is a painstaking process which becomes even more complicated due to the rarity of the Kosa worm. Considered very auspicious and sacred, a lot of caution is taken in weaving Kosa silk under suitable, clean and tidy environment. For people cherishing the heritage of Chattisgarh, it is an ideal attire to be worn to weddings and religious ceremonies.
Ask him how and when did he start weaving kosa sarees? Krishna says, “This work of weaving Kosa fabric is been happening from our ancestors’ times and we have kept ourselves connected to it and have been doing ever since and will continue to do till the end of our lives, with complete dedication and honesty. The Kosa silk woven by us is adorned on deities for it is pristine and holy. It is soft and light and is an ideal wear in any weather. It is popular in India and abroad alike. Manufacturers now are hiring our people and exporting the fabric made by them, be it saris or shirting, to various parts of the country like Bangalore, Kolkata, Delhi, and Mumbai and even overseas”.
Did he ever think of switching to more lucrative jobs? “Even if I ever think of switching my profession, the fact is that only handful of us left, know the laborious art of weaving kosa. If we give it up, then this wonderful art will extinct. That’s a big price to be paid for comfortable living”.
While the current trend among Chhattisgarh weavers is to work for manufacturers to get regular income no matter how less it is, Krishna likes to work on his own terms and that too from his home. We enquired why when the entire handloom community has moved on, he is still sticking to the ancient way of weaving, he says in the era of cottage industry when there were no big production houses, people worked from home. That was the time when handloom was at its best. “So why to change the way sarees are made if sarees themselves haven’t changed?” He asks
With such conviction and confidence in his work, he is a respected figure in Champa. Every day, he is visited by a number of tourists who are eager to see his master-hand at weaving pure Kosa silk sarees. Along with all the respect and popularity that Krishna and the others of Devangan community have gained, we only wished the popularity and richness of the fabric they weave would reflect in their living conditions. At Shatika, we vow to do our bit to slowly and steadily bring about this change.
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