Sunday, September 27, 2015

Jnana Pravaha, Varanasi

Baluchari Saree from Jnana Pravaha collection
For those interested in the preservation and documentation of India's great textile legacy, Jnana Pravaha in Varanasi is a good resource.

Jnana Pravaha was founded in 1997 by Bimla Poddar and Suresh Neotia.

Bimla Poddar was born in Varanasi and grew up there, so this institute was set up on the outskirts of the city. She is married into the Ambuja Cements family (this family surname is originally Neotia, there were 3 brothers, one of whom was adopted by his maternal grandfather Poddar). 

The Jnana Pravaha director R C Sharma used to be Director General / Vice Chancellor of the National Museum in Delhi. I don't know who is the person after his death. But Bimla Poddar is active in it. 

Their textile collection has some specialities: Phulkaris, many things from Bengal - excellent Balucharis, and Bengal textile folk art (really good stuff), then they also have a really good set of old Kashmiri shawl examples.

Here is a beautiful old Phulkari from their collection:
Please read about them: They are doing a lot more than just textiles. It has a handicraft atelier, as well as a museum. It's very impressive. They organise a lot of lectures, music performances, etc. There is a Mumbai chapter which is also very active.