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NID professor revives dying textile art
Jul '11
Ply-split braiding is the technique of splitting cords and inserting the next cord thru the split. This is an extension of the 3-strand hair braid style that women employ to tie their hair.

Ply-split braiding is used to make camel belts/girths. These belts hold the saddle on to the back/hump of the camel. A single girth made by hand, takes about two to three months to complete. The technique is extremely slow and fewer craftsmen are practicing them now.

“In another five years, the craft is also expected to die, as the belt is getting replaced by canvas, leather and plastic”, says Errol Pires, Professor (Textile Department) at the Ahmedabad based National Institute of Design (NID).

Back in the mid-1980s, Errol Pires began to revive the art of ply-split braiding. Now, he is ready to showcase his more than six feet in height creation, which he expects to be ready in a few months time and earn a place in the Guinness Book of World records.

His attempt is to make the tallest container shape, which he fondly calls 'happiness joy and love', which would be about 6.6 feet and wide enough to fit his own frame. The container is being made with cords made from strips of coloured fabric

In India, normally this cord is usually used to string together the traditional Indian bed, still a favourite with village folks. According to the professor, who is himself 6.2 feet in height, he has chosen to make the container higher than him, because he wants to 'look up' to his work, even after 25 years.

When asked about the idea behind reviving the dying art form of ply-split braiding, he said, “I felt a need to research a lesser-known technique and came upon camel belts 25 years ago. Since then I have been exploring the technique.

“My breakthroughs have been making one-of-a-kind seamless wearable garments and now have made several of these garments. I do not sell or exhibit my work, but whoever is interested, can come and see and learn the technique.

“As an exception, I plan to have my first ever public exhibition in August. I have also been invited to conduct a two-day workshop at the 2nd International Braiding Conference in Manchester next August to coincide with the Olympic Games, after which I shall be teaching in several design schools in Europe”, he concluded by saying.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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