Travelling with my husband, I had the privilege of spending a month in India this winter. A highlight was visiting weaver’s handlooming textiles as they have for generations. India has a long tradition of handloom weaving. So much so, that it fostered the independence movement from British colonial rule led by Mahatma Gandhi. Inspired by Gandhi, the humble acts of spinning and weaving undermined Britain’s industrial dominance and led to the dismantling of 200 years of British colonial rule

In the past few generations, handloom weaving has been replaced by machine production and handlooming was becoming obsolete. Weavers took up other work, often in cities, leaving their traditional way of life behind. Recently, however, there has been a revival of handloom textiles, giving weavers new opportunities to sustain their traditional crafts and livelihoods. One such place is the WomenWeave organization whose mission is to train and teach young weavers and carry on the traditional livelihoods. 

Here below are photos and videos we took at the WomenWeave campus. 

Machine used to wind thread onto spools in preparation for weaving.

Sitting with women spinning cotton onto cones in preparation for weaving. 

Learning how to reel the thread onto the spools before it goes onto the loom. It's harder than you might think. 

A fun moment.

The handloom revival is a delicate and fragile thing, dependent on customers in India and in the global marketplace who appreciate the value and quality of this beautiful work.  
 

Today a number of organizations in India are training and educating younger people to carry on this time-honoured craft. I was able to have a few minutes to chat about the process with this young man, who is in the training program at WomenWeave.


A lesson in colour-study for the students.

An image instructing students how to set up a "Diamond" pattern on the loom.  

If their work is valued, as reflected by demand in the marketplace, young people will be attracted to these traditional forms of livelihood and the revival will continue.  

 

Bougainvillea flowers in bloom at the weavers' site.  

Weaving in the morning sun.

 

 

A close-up view of the complexity on the loom. Heddles, which are wires are suspended from the blue shafts. Each long thread (warp) passes through a heddle.

 Fabric on the loom.


Finished fabric before it's removed from the loom.
 
 
Even the vines are woven, intertwined around a pole after many years' growth. 

Comments

Gail Cassidy (Moldenhauer) from Brock Cres

Gail Cassidy (Moldenhauer) from Brock Cres said:

Hi. Our son is travelling to India on his own in May. Any tips? 😊
Gail.

Maureen Bailey

Maureen Bailey said:

Wow! Seeing those Indian people working their looms must have been nirvana for you, Kathleen. It’s amazing that those things were even invented. They look so big and clumsy and complicated yet are producing such beautiful materials. Thanks for sharing.

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