India’s handloom weaving is one of the country’s timeless traditions. In August 07, 2015 the administration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave recognition to the handloom weaving industry by declaring every August 07 of each year the “National Handloom Day.”
The date has significance to India’s struggle for independence, to which handloom weaving played a significant role in the Swadeshi movement inspired by the great Mahatma Gandhi.
During the movement, the people of India were called upon to become self-reliant by patronizing traditional products like handwoven fabrics, instead of buying products brought over by British merchants. Gandhi himself set an example by weaving his own shawl and loincloth using a portable spinning wheel. The latter later became a symbol for self-reliance and nationalism.
Thanks to the weaving families in different regions, the legacy of the traditional handloom craftsmanship has been kept alive. Moreover, the development of artistic skills applied in creating handloom woven fabrics with intricate designs, has attained a level that is beyond the capability of the modern powerlooms.
India’s handloom sector offers weaving services to meet every consumer need, from ordinary textiles for popular everyday use, to exquisite fabrics for exclusive purposes and/or special occasions. The latter though can take months to weave, which means they have to be commissioned way ahead of the scheduled event.
Different regions employ their own handloom techniques in weaving unique and artistic fabrics identifiable to each region.
Examples of Regional Handloom Fabric Artistry
Every state in India has its own cultural identity, often manifested by the garments worn by the people and the artistic designs incorporated in the handwoven fabrics. The following are some of the regions with popular and distinguishable designs
Andhra Pradesh, located in the southeast of India, and the seventh-largest of the 29 states of India, produces handloom woven fabrics with block prints similar to Hindu mythological images drawn by the region’s Kalamkari or pen art.
Arunachal Pradesh is a state located in the northeastern most region of India that produces handloom textiles using the techniques of the Apatani tribe. The tribe’s handloom method is said to be more advanced in weaving fabrics with geometric, angular and zig-zag patterns. Apatani handloom fabrics are generally used for daily wear.
Assam is a northeastern Indian state that exclusively produces the Muga Silk. The cloth is also known as the “golden fibre” because even if of fine texture, the silk is washable and of natural yellow gold tint that attains more lustre with every wash.
Bihar is an eastern Indian state widely known throughout the country as the “Silk City” because of the silk handloom weaving industry in Bhagalpur. The Bhagalpur silk is made from threads extracted from the tissar cocoons, then dyed with different rich colors before woven.
Gujarat is a state that lies in the western coast of India that is famous for its Bandhani fabrics. Coming from the Sanskrit banda, meaning tie, the hand loomed textiles are tie-dyed, a method that has gained worldwide popularity.
Readers may also find it interesting to know that the Amazon Great Indian Sale that the Amazon online store will hold from September 04 to 08, 2019 includes a wide selection of trendy, ethnic handloom inspired garments offered at greatly discounted prices. To get the best deals, Amazon Store members must register in advance so they can receive early notifications about the items currently up for grabs.