Travelling with my husband, I had the privilege of spending a month in India this winter. A highlight was visiting weavers 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In the past few generations, handloom weaving has been replaced by machine production and handlooming was becoming obsolete.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. We had the opportunity to visit an 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 the weavers 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.
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 was at the facility we visited in rural India.
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.