Nalanda was a seat of learning and one of the oldest residential universities in the ancient kingdom of Magadha, established during the Gupta dynasty in the 6th century AD. The Chinese monk Xuanzang said, ‘it was at Nalanda where an azure pool winds around the monasteries, adorned with the full-blown cups of the blue lotus, the dazzling red flowers of the lovely kanaka hang here and there, and outside groves of mango trees offer the inhabitants their dense and protective shade’
Some of the oldest punch-marked coins used as currency in the kingdom of Magadh were excavated in this region.
Nalanda, the kingdom of Magadh and Buddhism became the inspiration and starting point for our design intervention. This work was handwoven by the weavers of Nalanda who practice the Bavan butti extra weft technique. It was done for the Jiyo project by the Asian Heritage Foundation and with the guidance of Himanshu Shani of 11.11. Products such as saris, stoles, scarves, and yardages were made.
A series of workshops with the weavers to try new motifs and experiment with material and form were done to eventually arrive at final products. The introduction of Khadi was an important aspect of the intervention.
When made by hand, no two motifs have to be the same. This is the specialty of the bavan butti technique.