History of Handloom Weavers in India:
There are many unsaid stories about the handloom weavers in India. They have been weaving the fabrics now for more than 5000 years and they use different woven fabrics on the spinners to bring out the dynamism in them.
Weavers, weaving, solemn and still,
What do you weave in the moonlight chill?…
White as a feather and white as a cloud,
We weave a dead man’s shroud.
~ Sarojini Naidu
Four Types of Woven Fabrics Used by Indian Handloom Weavers
Weaving required expertise for the Neolithic people and it eventually became a tradition. Accordingly, the art of weaving developed substantially over the centuries.
It is a natural fabric, a soft fluffy, staple fibre that grows inside a protective case, around the seeds of the cotton plants. The fibre is almost pure cellulose. India is the largest cotton producing country in the world and covers 125.84 lakh hectare area for cotton production.
Silk is a natural protein fibre that is woven into textile fabrics. The protein fibre of silk is composed mainly of fibroin. There are four main types of silk i.e. are Muga Silk, Mulberry Silk, Tasar silk and Eri silk. Amongst the four, Mulberry silk is the most popular one. The total silk production in India during 2020-21 was 33,739 metric tons
It is a textile fabric made from the fibres of the flax plant. It grows worldwide, it is very strong and dries faster than cotton. Accordingly, linen is comfortable to wear in hot weather. M.K Gandhi made Khadi, a hand-spun fibre cloth, famous during the fight for Indian independence. Clothes spun from the Linen fabric keeps the wearer cool in summer and warm in winter.
Condition of Indian Handloom Weavers Before The Industrial Revolution
Fabric weaving requires proper training. It fulfils the needs of the weavers and also these weavers pass on their skills to their future generations. A merchant of England began to produce cloth and for which, London became its finishing centre. During all of this, the Indian weavers faced hardships due to the import duties levied on Indian clothing entering the British markets.
The European companies gained power by getting concessions from courts and by monopoly rights to trade. As a result, there was a huge decline in the older ports of Surat and Hooghly from where local merchants operated. Thus the export market collapsed and fell dramatically.
The imported cotton fabric was so cheap that weavers were not able to compete with those prices. Weavers were not able to get good quality raw cotton and from there onwards, it was as if watching a dominoes effect where one pillar of the economy kept knocking down the other in front of it.
This was decades ago, these days dynamic technology changes are adversely affecting the Handloom weavers. Coupled with that are the low wages and rising price of yarn, the way things are going right now, it is believed that the handloom sector can survive only with the existence of two factors i.e. demand for traditional products and government schemes for the welfare of the weaving community.
A Glimpse into the future of the ‘Julahaa’ AKA Weaver
With changing times, it is inevitable to not evolve anymore. If we come out with a way to mix technology with traditional handloom weaving methods then it is quite possible to succeed sustainably. At Julahaa Sarees, the perfect balance between technology and manual intelligence is maintained. This balance has enabled Gujarat’s fastest growing saree brand to scale newer heights by taking everyone together on the ride.
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