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Magazine Editorial

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Name Muvva Krishna Murthy
Category PROFILE
Title Sari of Straw
Details Have you ever heard of a sari made from paddy grass? Meet the 70-year-old innovator Muvva Krishna Murthy to understand how a full length colourful sari is made from dried paddy grass. Muvva (village, Kommanenivari Palem, District, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh) was born in a farming family. Apart from pursuing farming, he also had an urge to earn a name by doing something different from other farmers. He tried his hand at weaving cloth using natural fibres from paddy grass, tunga, jonna vene, eetha aaku, coconut leaves, etc. Since 1959, he has been using fibres and dried paddy grass to make sari, kanduva, cherna cola (a stick to handle oxen/bullocks)), blouse, hand bags. Till now, no one had ventured to weave fabric from the fibres of paddy straw. His passion led him to make yarn and weave fabric from other natural fibres such as tunga (nut grass), jonna vene (sorghum leaf ribs), eetha aaku (palmeria leaves), coconut leaf etc. Among his first projects included a Cherna cola in 1959. He says that he was patient enough to weave the cloth on the farm even during the hot hours of the day sitting in the shade. Hence, his daily farming activities were not disturbed. One of his finest artistic works was a six meter sari which took him three years of hard work. The process is time consuming and needs a lot of patience. However, he completed it in 2010. To make the fabric look colourful, he added cotton fibres for the borders. He was keen to make the sari border tricoloured using cotton yarn which could be coloured easily. However, he is yet to develop a method to colour the straw with natural dyes. He says that once he finds a way of successfully dyeing the straw, he will stop using cotton yarn so that the entire garment is made only from straw. He will also then be able to weave any design across the length and breadth of the fabric/sari. When we discussed the possibility of colouring the straw with natural dyes, the innovator was excited and keenly awaiting the outcome of the trials of the Pochampalli weavers. Some of his projects had been sent earlier to the Pochampalli weavers in the state for them find a solution.The shelf life of these clothes made from grass is long and none of them have been damaged by termites or other insects. He keeps them in polythene bags to avoid direct access from any pests or insects. No preservative is used for the straw nor is it treated with any other material. Elaborating on the procedure, he explains that a small knife is used to cut wet paddy grass leaf into fine fibres. Three to four such fibres are twisted to make one thread. By joining these twisted threads together, one can elongate the length of the thread. He says joining is a simple twisting action which is done manually. First, he prepares the warp and then, a thick long needle is used for weaving the weft into the warp. He does this in a wooden rectangular frame which he made himself. It is amazing to see that a sari, blouse and stole made of grass are usable and strong. The fabric made out of grass does not irritate the skin. Also, sari, Kanduva and other items made from straw fibre have lasted 5 to 7 years. Nothing has damaged them so far, he reiterates.  The innovator desires to make his indigenous art recognised as a fine art not only in his home state but across India and become known worldwide. He wants to teach the art of weaving cloth from natural fibres to as many interested people as possible.
Volume No. Honey Bee 25(2) 8, 2014