BY BHARGAVI MISHRA AND SHIVAANI SENTHIL
The handloom industry is the second-largest in India after agriculture, with nearly 4 million people working in this field. There are serval ways to uplift the industry but it needs government support and especially the will power of the weavers to step out of their comfort zone and change for the better.
The pandemic has had an extremely negative impact on the handloom sector, affecting the livelihood of weavers everywhere. Fashion designers from across the country have been making attempts to revive Indian fabrics like chanderi, kalamkari, and banarasi. A Bangalore based organization (TRS) has started a campaign for the same. We can all do our part by promoting local products and local brands. The #Vocalforlocal moment is all about promoting local products and boycotting those that are not made in India. The world is moving towards a recession and now is the time to take action.
INDIAN HANDLOOM FABRICS
HANDLOOM TEXTILE OF TAMIL NADU: KANCHIVARAM SILK
Kanchivaram is traditionally woven silk from a village called Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu, India. The origin of the Kanchipuram saree dates back to centuries ago when these sarees used to be woven in temples. Kanchipuram sarees are made from pure mulberry silk with borders and pallu in contrast colors and lined with heavy gold weaving. The inspiration behind these designs is South Indian temples and natural elements like birds, leaves, and flowers.
HANDLOOM TEXTILES OF KERALA: KASAVU
Kerala is known for its Mundus and the Kerala saree, which are typically undyed cotton fabrics with color or kasavu borders and a kasavu stripe on the pallu. The term Kasavu actually refers to the zari used in the border of the Kerala saree. In Kerala, traditional attire like saris, mundus, and settu mundus is generally called kaithari, meaning handloom. Kerala has three clusters that have been given a Geographical Indication tag by the Indian government.
• Balaramapuram textiles (Thiruvananthapuram district)
• Chendamangalam textiles (Ernakulam district)
• Kuthampully textiles (Thrissur district)
HANDLOOM TEXTILE OF TELANGANA: POCHAMPALLY
Telangana is renowned for its world-famous Ikat designs. It is considered as one of the ancient Ikat weaving centers of India. The fabric used is cotton, silk, and sico, which is actually a mix of silk and cotton. Ikat represents a weaving form where the warp and weft are both tie-dyed before they are weaved to create any designs on the finished fabric.
Pochampally Ikat is well-known for its traditional geometric patterns with the Ikat style of dyeing. The intricate geometric designs are mastered by the hands of skilled weavers.
HANDLOOM TEXTILE OF MADHYA PRADESH: CHANDERI
Chanderi is a traditional ethnic fabric characterized by its lightweight, sheer texture and fine luxurious feel. Chanderi fabric is produced by weaving silk and golden zari in a traditional cotton yarn. This fabric can be classified into three types – Chanderi silk cotton, pure silk, and Chanderi cotton. Motifs created using Chanderi weaving are inspired by nature and include Swans, gold coins, fruits, and heavenly bodies. The color palette of Chanderi sarees is predominately ruled by soft pastel hues.
HANDLOOM TEXTILE OF UTTAR PRADESH: BANARASI SILK
Banarasi Silk is a fine variant of Silk originating from the city of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. Mughals brought this fine craftsmanship in India and tried to glorify the art of weaving and designing with Persian motifs. It has actually been well known for the use of gold and silver brocade or the ‘Zari‘. The unique aspect of these sarees is the Mughal inspired designs which have been decorated with intricate floral as well as foliate designs.
HANDLOOM OF MAHARASTRA: PAITHINI
The Paithani sari originates from the royal dynasties of the medieval town of Paithan near Aurangabad. It is believed to be made from the finest silk yarns of China and locally spun zari. Every piece is characterized by the luxurious use of gold as well as floral and bird-inspired motifs. The traditional motifs include parrots, peacocks, and lotuses.
HANDLOOM TEXTILE OF WEST BENGAL: JAMDANI
Jamdani is a handloom woven fabric made of cotton, traditionally originated from Bengal, and historically referred to as muslin. The words ‘Jam’ and ‘Dani’ mean flower and vase. This weave done by loom on brocade is a time-consuming process and is a blend of figures and floral motifs. In Jamdani, motifs are inlaid into the fabric by adding a denser thread to fine warp by hand. It is considered as one of the finest varieties of muslin and the most artistic textile.
HANDLOOM TEXTILE OF ANDRA PRADESH: UPPADA
Uppada, a small town located in Andhra Pradesh, is well known for its traditional Uppada Handlooms and its unique designs. They are handwoven using cotton or silk warp and weft. The count used in weaving results in the softness and hardness of the fabric. Uppada uses the technique of the traditional Jamdani weaving to create rich patterns using gold and silver zari.
HANDLOOM TEXTILE OF GUJARAT: PATOLA
Patolas are manufactured by the resist-dyeing process using the warp and weft technique on handwoven silk and take about 4- 7 months to weave. Patolas generally have abstract and geometric patterns of elephants, human figures, kalash, flowers, and parrots as well as designs inspired by the architecture of Gujarat. Natural dyes like indigo, turmeric, madder roots, manjistha, pomegranate skin, henna, and marigold are used in the making process.
PROBLEMS FACED BY HANDLOOM WEAVERS IN INDIA
Even though the handloom textile industry in India is glorified in today’s world, there are some major problems faced by the weavers in India. Starting from the increase in the price of the raw materials to the lack of modernization and to financial exploitation, they have faced it all.
Multiplying prices of the raw materials like yarns and dyes have made it a nightmare for the weavers to procure them at affordable prices. This affects their work and product outcomes. The infrastructure of the workplace and the looms have affected the quality of work and have also had it time-consuming, making the product more expensive. Due to the vulnerable financial condition of the weavers and frequent exploitation, they are unable to invest in research and development, a serious impediment to tune in new designs.
EDITED BY: PRERNA LALCHANDANI