If you have longed to own the exquisite embroidered apparel and accessories crafted by Lambadi artisans at Porgai Artisans Association, here is your chance to get your hands on them. Just in time for Deepavali, Porgai (meaning pride in the Lambadi dialect), is hosting its first-ever solo exhibition in the city this weekend.
Founded by artisans Neela R and Gammi K, along with Dr Lalitha Regi in 2006, the 60-member women artisan group hails from Sittilingi, in Tamil Nadu’s Dharmapuri district, the second southernmost settlement of Lambadis in India.
Lalitha, 63, explains how hosting their first solo outing is a step ahead for Porgai. “We have participated in several exhibitions in Chennai, Bengaluru, etc. but our customer base here has been loyal, and the city is one of our best markets,” she says, adding how their well-wishers were nudging them to host a solo exhibition for the past few years. “We started thinking about it in 2019 but the pandemic forced us to wait.”
This weekend, buyers can look forward to embroidered textile art, cushion covers, and apparel — in regular cotton, as well as organic, handspun, and handwoven cotton — such as kurtas, sari blouses, short tops, and natural-dyed stoles.
Lalitha says, “Our traditional Lambadi hand embroidery consists of a repertoire of 42 embroidery stitches,” adding how Neela and Gammi learned the craft from their grandmothers and then taught the others. She adds, “Our vocabulary of stitches unifies us as a community. We use this to tell the stories of our valley, we do not shy away from creating figurative representations of agricultural practices that we are a part of. This also keeps our embroidery alive and dynamic.”
This is why, the primarily geometric motifs at Porgai are inspired by Sittilingi’s rich biodiversity and the agrarian practice of growing millets and organic cotton. “Apart from mirrors, cowrie shells, and coins, which are part of our traditional clothing and products, beads made with thread (chunga) are also particular to our practice,” says Lalitha.
Also on display will be postcards, notebooks, badges, and other stationery by artist Padma Malini (@theplainpapers on Instagram), along with block-printed apparel and accessories such as umbrellas and table runners by Divya Vigneshwaran of Hastha.
On October 28 and 29. From 10am to 8pm at CP Arts Center, Eldams Road, Alwarpet