During a recce for DigiKala, a project that DEF has recently initiated, in collaboration with Microsoft Corporate Citizenship, members of the organisation got a chance to meet Sarat Patra in Nuapatna, Odisha. A National Award winner Sarat is a talented handloom weaver who focuses on art and not the sale of his creations. Sarat’s wife and his younger brother are also National Award winners. In fact, the family has been weaving for generations and has several sarees that date back to 500 years ago. These sarees have been passed down the generations and is matter of great pride for them.
The family has another rare but rather new collection of sarees and wall hangings that took three to seven years to be made. One particular wall hanging about the life of Buddha has been valued at Rs. 30 lakh by the Victoria Museum of London. Several other bridal sarees are priced for upto Rs. 7 lakh. Interestingly, the Victoria Museum has approached Sarat’s family more than once, seeking their approval to buy and display their sarees and wall hangings in London. The family, however, have turned down their request every time in the hope that they will be able to set up their own museum in Nuapatna one day.
Unfortunately, however, the younger generation of the family is hardly interested in handloom and has migrated to government jobs. A fate that most families in Nuapatna are facing today.