Red Lilies, Water Birds

The Registry of Sarees presents Red Lilies, Water Birds — The Saree in Nine Stories, an exhibition at Anegundi, Hampi, curated by Mayank Mansingh Kaul and designed by Reha Sodhi. The exhibition features a selection of 108 sarees and draped garments – narrated through 9 themes – which have been sourced by The Registry of Sarees over the last 5 years. They represent a period of almost a century, from the late 19th to the early 21st, and comprise textiles from some of the most prominent handloom centres of India, including Kanchipuram, Venkatagiri, Chanderi, Paithan, Patan, Varanasi, Murshidabad and Sambalpur.

Unstitched garments have long defined daily life in the Indian subcontinent, and their legacies visibly persist in the enduring and ubiquitous charm of the modern saree. With its identity being associated with “tradition” in South Asia and its different avatars being linked to specialised weaving centres in the region, it has become easy to overlook the range of cultural transmissions that have informed the form and function of the saree today.

Each of the nine stories within the exhibition provokes an examination of such currents, through the colours, patterns, motifs and techniques that divergently characterise their desirability and production in different parts of the country.

Anegundi has been selected to allow its proximity to the historical trade centre at Hampi and the emergence of contemporary craft practices within the village, facilitated by The Kishkinda Trust, to act as catalysts for interdisciplinary conversations around craft and conservation.

Simultaneously, the exhibition’s location in north Karnataka is part of an effort to situate the exhibition of textiles out of metropolitan contexts and closer to craft clusters, to inspire innovative engagements between creators, researchers, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders. This was further enabled in Anegundi through CCBPRoots, a parallel program organised by the Creative and Cultural Business Program (CCBP) at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, which aimed at future collaborations with artisans associated with the National Federation of Handloom and Handicrafts and the institute's diverse alumni network.