The story of Raanubala
Piyush Kanti Sarkar's juxtaposed love for posies of flowers and nature has the traditional Bengali fashion scene abuzz with Raanubala, an online outlet creating just the most mesmerising pieces of saris you have probably ever laid eyes upon.
It is amazing how a mundane idea for a unique gift has magnified the delicious trend of hand-painting in saris, putting Sarkar, a humble artist and teacher, in the leagues of couturiers like Saimoon Amin and Nighat Imam.
"I was under the tutelage of renowned Bangladeshi artist Shishir Bhattacharjee, when studying art at university. He'd encourage me to produce detailed watercolour paintings and create delicate works of art. In 2017, I put my skill to good use when I decided to gift my wife something unique and true, something that I could create myself, perhaps to show her how much she meant to me," recalls Sarkar, "and that is when the epiphany of painting a sari to give to her struck me."
After a flurry of compliments and word-of-mouth quickly spreading upon his first creation, Sarkar continued creating more and more stunning pieces of sari-cum-art upon exclusive requests and selective orders. And, with that, Raanubala was uncovered.
"I named my page 'Raanubala' after my mother who, sadly, passed away a few years ago. Thinking back to when we were growing up, my mother was a great enthusiast of art and loved home décor. That love shined through everything she did: from the way she fluffed the pillows in the living-room to how she carried herself with grace, from how she designed immaculate alponas in the front yard to how she routinely planted seedlings in our garden to breathe new life into our home," shares Sarkar.
"Her love for nature transpired in me and, through Raanubala, I wish to impart the same love into whoever wears my saris," envisions Sarkar.
This is where the motifs painted on the beds of Sarkar's saris dry up to evoke stories of nature, the kind he wishes to glorify. Blazing purple bluebellvines spurring to blossom, blush pink lotuses blooming despite the muddiest of waters, and pristine ginger lilies are all ornaments of nature Sarkar has hand-painted onto saris.
Even with the most common flowers like vermillion hibiscuses or flame-of-the-forest vines, what sets Sarkar's art apart are tonal shades of details, captured impeccably with fabric paint and romanticised beautifully onto a plain sari.
Raanubala only manifests in paint upon Bengali taant, which are weaves of cotton threads, light and airy in texture and the perfect companion for humid summer days.
Every hand-painted floral sari at Raanubala is sold at a flat rate of Tk 3500, but portraying a quintessential Bengali belle in a Raanubala original is minimalistic. What Raanubala epitomises is the quiet glamour and alluring charm of a Bengali beauty. Soft tinted cheeks and jasmines adorning a tantalising hair bun are enough as is to set your gazer's heart on fire. Coupled with a hand-painted Raanubala taant and jangles of oxidised silver jewellery, you would scream grace and poetry without ever even uttering a word!
Sarkar idealises Raanubala to check three boxes: to spread literacy and appreciation for Bengal's flowers, to nurture a love for art through his sartorial creations, and finally, to immortalise his mother's memory though his initiative.
If successful, what Sarkar hopes to revel in is the eternal love and essence of Raanubala, always by his side, passed on in memory.
Styling: Sonia Yeasmin Isha
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/raanubala
For orders, call 01718-137696