Indulge catches up with Kantha designer Mahamaya Sikdar as she talks about the evolution of the Bengal handloom
When you buy a handwoven nakshi kantha from Mayamaya Sikdar, you’re also choosing to be a part of the stunning revival which the homegrown artisanship in Bengal has witnessed in the last few years. Mahamaya is a name that’s known to many - it’s also the name of the designer’s label, and has been associated with kantha fashion for more than two decades.
Often referred to as the 'kantha queen', Mahamaya’s numbers aren’t up on a flashy Instagram page or a richly designed site - mainly because she has never needed the publicity. The designer enjoys stellar renown all over the globe as she’s the only name with such a rich expertise in kantha designing, and you’ve definitely spotted some of her numbers at exhibitions across the city.
Her brand is not just associated with fashion, but her blankets, cushions, wall panels made in kantha and other handloom fabrics make her a force to reckon with in the lifestyle spectrum as well. “I’ve been designing for over 25 years now. I would say my specialisation is nakshi kantha, blankets throws, stoles, shawls, wall panels, and even art pieces,” she tells us.
The designer is cultivating a culture which recognises the novelty of locally-sourced, handmade wearables., and is actually making way for a meaningful connection between contemporary styling and age-old traditional techniques. “I actually bring in kantha from all across Bengal, be it Shantipur or Burdhaman, and I also source them in from weavers. I collect Tussars from Purulia and Jharkhand,” she adds.
In her collection, you’ll find some of the most richly textured kantha work, exquisitely elaborate shawls, colourful hand-stitched stoles, and some really elaborate woven work only available in some rare parts of Bengal. “I don’t usually come up with seasonal collections, because we produce numbers throughout the year, and have a huge overseas demand as well,” we are told. Her collections have a variety of price ranges; for instance, her cushion covers start from Rs 1,000, while her kantha starts from Rs 30,000. You can browse through her collections at one of her many exhibitions or her South Kolkata home.