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Handloom

A handloom is a simple machine used for weaving. In a wooden vertical-shaft loom, the heddles are fixed in place in the shaft. The warp threads pass alternately through a heddle, and through a space between the heddles (the shed), so that raising the shaft raises half the threads (those passing through the heddles), and lowering the shaft lowers the same threads – the threads passing through the spaces between the heddles remain in place. This when used alternatively creates the ‘rap’ sound that I mentioned earlier.

The art of handloom weaving essentially involves three stages:

The manufacturing process of the yarn
The dyeing process
The weaving process

The manufacturing and making of the cotton or silk yarn is an intricate process involving craftsmen who have been practicing and perfecting the art over many centuries and India is considered to be the world’s best handloom hub. Handloom weaving is a community activity located in specific groups across India. Sometimes an entire village’s livelihood centres on handloom weaving and activity has involved families across generations.

Journey of Handloom

Handlooms are labour intensive, time consuming, yet worth all the effort and time for the wonderful product that emerges out of it. The art was on the decline a few years back has seen a revival the last two decades. It has taken over a new avatar with SHGs (Self Help Groups), NGOs and Government taking an active part in its revival and restoration. With NIFT and other fashion institutes, Craft Council of India and designers giving it the much required leg-up, Indian handloom is now internationally known and well appreciated worldwide. There are takers who appreciate the craftsmanship both within India and in the West. Celebrity endorsement is of course another added crown.

So why Handloom?

Due to the fact that it is made of natural fiber such as cotton, jute, linen or silk, handloom fabric is suitable for all weather conditions – be it the cold of the winter or to remain cool and comfortable during summer. The breathability of the fabric is the reason for it.

The sheer creativity of the craftsman comes into play in a handloom fabric- the range of colours and the intricate and varied designs are much to marvel about in this craftsmanship. Weavers incorporate their creativity with their skilful blending of shapes, symbols, myths, faiths, and imagery, giving the fabric its uniqueness and appeal. It is available in a range of fibers like cotton, silk, jute, linen and wool and sometimes as blend of two varieties.

A unique character of a handloom fabric is the irregularities or variations present in the weaving which are inherent to the product and which adds to its uniqueness and value and should not be considered as a flaw. Handlooms can provide a modern or traditional product for every strata of society. It projects a unique image of sustainability as it is biodegradable and the production process is environment friendly. The sector provides employment opportunities to lakhs of workers and their families accounting for 12{52085b30354b9a7be25e3c8c58188994b566977e8be1702dace4229e614f0724} of the total cloth produced in the country.

Celebrities and handloom

Handloom has become a statement piece be it among the fashion circles or in a boardroom. Every fashion collection across the globe celebrates the handloom fabric. It is now considered a ‘renaissance’ moment among the Indian fashion circles. With the active endorsement of the Prime Minister and sincere efforts of ministers like Vasundhara Raje and Smriti Irani and prominent designers we can expect to see bright days ahead for the handloom.