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How much do we really know about our Handloom Industry?

India is a diverse country with a rich history of weavers. In 2015, the Union Government declared August 7 as the National Handloom Day, to be celebrated every year. It was done to celebrate hand-weaving of clothes, throw light on the contribution of handloom to the social and economic development of the nation, and promote India’s handloom industry and its weavers.

Weaving Loom

Yet, not many of us know much about India’s handloom industry. And it is rife with its own set of issues. Here, we have compiled a few facts that you need to know, and can enjoy reading and sharing as a tribute to Indian weavers and artisans on this Handloom Day

  • In India, the handloom sector directly or indirectly employs more than 4.3 million people.
  • India’s handloom contributes to 95% of the world’s handwoven fabrics. (PIB, 2017). Yes, this is something we should be proud of.
  • The weaving industry is the second largest employment-generating sector in India, second only to agriculture.
  • But why was August 7 chosen as the National Handloom Day? Because it was on August 7, 1905, that the Swadeshi Movement began before India’s independence. It celebrated our indeginous fabrics, products, weavers and artisans, supporting and promoting them against the British ones. We are now commemorating this day.
  • If you have ever seen someone weaving, you know it is not as simple as it looks – though skilled weavers do it effortlessly. But what are they doing, exactly? Intersecting the longitudinal threads (thrown across), called the ‘warp’, with the transverse threads (woven), called the ‘weft’.
  • Weaving is quite complex work, including 3 primary motions of shedding, picking and battening, along with other secondary motions. Watch a weaver at work, if you ever get a chance.
  • According to certain archaeological studies, people of the Harappan civilization knew weaving and spinning. And that was more than 4,000 years ago!
  • A block-printed and resist-dyed fabric originating from Gujarat, was found in Fustat, Egypt by archaeologists. This shows that even in ancient times, India was famous for weaving exquisite fabrics and exporting them to other parts of the world.

The Indian handloom industry has grown a lot, but weavers continue to face hardships due to mechanization and power loom products. We at Thoppia are happy and humbled to have skilled and dedicated weavers operating on our handlooms and involved in every step of the process, helping to produce beautiful and authentic products.

Thoppia – The art of weaving, mastered

Weaving is the process of interlacing fiber threads to make textiles. It is a remarkable craft which utilizes wooden tools such as looms, frames, and shuttles. An incredible art in and of themselves, these tools have been used by the traditional weavers of India to weave quality garments since ages. India is still one of those countries that creates its textiles from the magic looms of the master weavers.

Mr. Bhaskaran

When he’s not traveling, one can spot him behind the lengthy bundles of colorful threads, weaving elegant fabrics out of his loom. Even at the age of 73, Bhaskaran is not ready to retire. All this because, he has made it his mission in life to revive the fine tradition of cotton weaving in India. His craftsmanship is embellished with a sense of pride in what he is and what he creates.

Mrs. Kanaka

What does it mean to be a woman with an artistic craft? It requires the courage to step away from the mainstream and limiting ideas of femininity. She is just one among many compassionate handloom weavers of this land of master weavers. With an eye for detail and graceful efficiency, Kanaka weaves extremely fine threads of cotton.

Mr. C Mukundan

Combing through the 60-meter-long threads, C Mukundan sits to take away knots and glitches from the fabric to make them loom-ready. This passionate weaver is the first one to reach the mill and the last one to leave. He has a unique eye for detailing and the efficiency of an excellent weaver.

Mr. Govindan

Govindan, the 72-year-old independent artisan, strongly believes in earning for himself and has an undying will to continue his passion. He is an expert in winding, warping, and weaving.

These are some of the master weavers of Kannur, who makes the land – the Land of Looms and Lores. Regions and communities throughout India have unique weaving traditions. But with a distinct quality, custom and pattern, fabric from Kannur have always stood out in the international market with much pride and glory, the land where thoppia also started its story decades ago. Customers from around the world appreciate the beauty and quality of the fabrics from Thoppia for the same reason. The generation of these expert weavers are sure to guard the weaving tradition in the coming years and will not let the looms lie lifeless.