BY DEBAJYOTI CHAKRABORTY
KOLKATA, 1 JULY 2022
From the early eighteenth century to 5 June 2022, it has been truly a long royale journey for the Murshidabad silk.
The history of silk weaving dates back to the early eighteenth century during the Mughal empire in India, when the Nawab of Bengal, Murshid Kuli Khan, shifted his capital from Dhaka (in present day Bangladesh) to a town on the east of the river Bhagirathi , which was rechristened later as Murshidabad.
Ajay Saha, 50 , a weaver of Chak Islampur Village in Murshidabad district of West Bengal has bagged an order to export silk clothes amounting to Rs.8 lakhs, which has been used to make silk flags in the showcase event of the Platinum Jubilee Celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II in London.
The Queen has become the first British Monarch to serve the people of the UK, the realms of the Commonwealth for over 70 years. 5 th June was the closing ceremony of the four day royal celebrations.
Silks woven by Ajay Saha have been used to make about 200 silk flags by Ali Pretty and her all women team of Kinetica. These 200 flags have been used in the River of Hope event which had processed down The Mall.
Students of the secondary schools participated in the River of Hope pageant, carrying the silk flags with the artwork focussing on climate change and incorporating the children’s message for the next 70 years to come.
Speaking to The Travel and Tourism Times , Ajay Saha said that he has exported consignments of silk, tussar and muslin products earlier to Bangladesh, Japan and UK.
“ But the latest order consisting of three consignments sent to Kinetica will remain special forever in my life. The long journey of the hand weaved finest quality Murshidabad silk started during the period of the nabab and now got selected and displayed in a royale ceremony in London is really a matter of pride for a silk weaver like me,”adds Ajay Saha.
Thurrock-based arts organisation Kinetika and UK-based Jeanefer Jean-Charles Associates took to The Mall in London to present The Thank You Dance in the Pageant to honour The Queen as the first British Monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee with 70 years of service.
The Thank You Dance in the pageant was a visually arresting spectacle made up of over 200 performers drawn from across generations from Thurrock, London and Milton Keynes, covered in hand-painted silks, and holding vibrant flags designed and made by community groups from Tilbury, Grays, Purfleet-on-Thames and Milton Keynes.
The Thank You Dance is a Thank You to the Queen for 70 years of public service and a Thank You to all those who selflessly contribute to society, looking after the communities and laying the foundation for a better life for generations to come. The Thank You Dance joined The Pageant which wound through the streets of Westminster and along The Mall past Buckingham Palace telling the story of Her Majesty’s record reign and the transforming society over this period.
Ali Pretty visited Chak Islampur in 2019.
Kinetika is an internationally renowned company, specialising in creating large-scale hand-painted silks. For over 20 years Kinetika has been combining world-class design with community projects to produce spectacular outdoor commissions that engage diverse audiences. The commercial arm of the business, Kinetika Design Studio has been commissioned to design and manufacture bespoke silks to commemorate special occasions and for ceremonies at high profile events such as the Royal Opera House Deloitte Ignite Festival, Atlanta Olympics, FIFA Club World Cup London 2012 Paralympic Closing Ceremony and Milan Expo. Jeanefer’s company Jeanefer Jean-Charles & Associates are industry leaders in developing, directing and delivering creative responses for large-scale events.
For over 20 years Jeanefer has designed and delivered artistic solutions for some of the world’s most iconic events including the Coronation Festival at Buckingham Palace, all four of the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremonies, The F.A. Cup Final 2016 Opening Ceremony at Wembley and the first ever Big Dance – which broke a world record.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to present, in one day, all that Kinetika stands for, working with the diverse communities of Thurrock, where we are based, along with community groups in Milton Keynes, young dancers from London, and with local people who have dedicated their lives, as key workers, to public service. We are honoured to play our part in celebrating The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Pageant,” concludes Ali Pretty, artistic director of Kinetika.
“ It is matter of great pleasure that the silk clothes weaved by Ajay Saha has been displayed in the pageant before the Queen in London at the royal ceremony and will further spread the world famous Murshidabad silk globally,”says Shanta Ghosh, president of West Bengal Crafts Council.