Ananthanayaki comes from a family of ‘Master Weavers’. She’s brave, artistic, passionate, sincere, and a mother to two gorgeous daughters. Read on to know more about her and it’s a guarantee that she’ll make an impression on you.
Weaving is an art form, just like painting, playing a musical instrument or writing. I enjoy the very act of weaving, my mind becomes incredibly calm and it makes me happy.
A childhood woven in silk
I grew up with 3 brothers and 2 sisters. My father was a passionate weaver and an artist at heart. He had 4 looms at home which he owned and operated. He wove till his last breath and my mom supported him throughout. Like any business, there were ups and downs. But there was financial stability throughout. All of us started weaving at a very young age, not out of compulsion. But when you grow up in that environment it naturally comes to you. I guess it’s also in our genes. We used to work together and help each other, which was a lot of fun.
Love for Weaving
Weaving is and was always second nature to me. It came very easily to all of us. But my parents believed that we ought to be educated and encouraged us to do whatever we wanted to. I went to school till my 10th grade, after which I chose to weave. Weaving is not a standalone art. You need a really good support system. All of us siblings had that in my father’s house. Slowly, when we started getting married, it became harder to continue without the support system.
Only one of my brothers is weaving now, apart from me. When I got married, I built my own loom and was weaving for a good number of years. But we were staying in rented houses and kept shifting. Some of the houses we stayed in did not have a comfortable set up to have a loom. So I discontinued for a few years. In the interim I worked in a leather factory. I won’t say I didn’t like it but it was nothing like weaving. That’s when I got this opportunity to weave again, and very gladly took it!
What are your thoughts on weaving?
Weaving is an art form, just like painting, playing a musical instrument or writing. I enjoy the very act of weaving, my mind becomes incredibly calm and it makes me happy. Even when I am at home, my mind is always on the loom. But let me tell you this. Weaving is a lot more than what people think it is. I have learnt so much through weaving, because it trains you in different things. A little bit of Engineering: To start with, you need a very good understanding of the loom which is not exactly an easy structure. While working, there are a lot of things that constantly need to be fixed. For every sari that’s different, the loom will have to change accordingly to fit the new design. So it trains you in engineering.
The number's game : Math is extremely important. Starting with the weight of silk to the count of silk threads, it’s all about the numbers. If the math goes wrong, it can have an effect on the design and texture
Drawing: it’s not necessary but it’s better if you can draw. Because it helps you weave motifs better and be more confident of your work
Chemistry: Silk gets affected very easily – by the moisture in the air, water used, amount of starch etc. We need to know all of this. And we constantly keep learning new things
Colors: How do you get turquoise? Or deep maroon? Or sunset yellow? By mixing colors in the warp and weft. The more you weave, the deeper you get into colors. It also has a calming effect on your mind
Fabric: Over here in Kanchipuram we deal only with silk. But we know everything about it. How to make it softer, rougher, stiffer, and so on. Maybe one day we’ll deal with other kinds of fabric too.
Awareness: I start weaving early in the morning. I have music on and I get into a zone. It brings about awareness and is very meditative in nature.
Women in weaving
My parents believed that women should be independent in every aspect of life. They not only stressed on education but also on being proficient in any skill. Because that skill can make you very self-sufficient in life. So I have always been independent. Even when I had children – twins mind you – I continued to work. That’s also because I have an incredibly understanding and supportive husband. He stands by me and helps me achieve my dreams. Kanchipuram has a lot of women who are very talented. And they show great interest in weaving. But it becomes very hard when there is no family support. Something must be done and their underlying fear needs to be addressed so that these women can weave.