Inspiring Hand­loom Her­itage!

From the soft­est pash­mi­nas to the finest kan­jee­varam silks, In­dia of­fers as vast a va­ri­ety of hand­looms as its ex­ten­sive length and breadth. Gargi Ban­sod takes you on a tour of these beau­ti­ful weaves found across the coun­try.

Apparel - - Contents July 2018 -

A peek into In­dia’s vast va­ri­ety of hand­looms

There’s a rea­son In­dian wed­dings look so vi­brant and eclec­tic! It is be­cause of the beau­ti­ful amal­ga­ma­tion of unique hand­looms from dif­fer­ent re­gions of the coun­try. We have the muga silk from As­sam, pa­tola from Gu­jarat, chan­deri from Mad­hya Pradesh and phulkari from Pun­jab, giv­ing each In­dian out­fit a char­ac­ter­is­tic of its own. While there is a dis­tinc­tion in the craft and artistry, at the same time, there is also a smooth blend of tech­niques and styles be­tween re­gions. Even though con­tem­po­rary de­signs and new tech­niques have taken over the hand­loom in­dus­try, tra­di­tional weaves still hold their own and con­tinue to cre­ate a mar­ket­place for them­selves across the world. We take a look at some of the finest va­ri­eties from each re­gion.

PASHMINA OF JAMMU & KASHMIR

Derived from the wool of a spe­cial strain of sheep, the changth­angi, Pashmina shawls are a mark of pride. These hand­wo­ven warm shawls have del­i­cate hand em­broi­dery in bold colours, giv­ing them a dis­tinc­tive look.

PHULKARI OF PUN­JAB

Brought to us by the migrant Jat peo­ple, the Pulkari, mean­ing flower work, style of em­broi­dery has been etched in the cul­ture of Pun­jab. What makes this em­broi­dery stand out is the use of hor­i­zon­tal, ver­ti­cal and di­ag­o­nal darn stitches on the wrong side of the cloth with coloured silken thread, re­sult­ing in a creative geo­met­ric grid.

TIBETAN HAND­LOOMS OF HIMACHAL PRADESH

While the hand­looms of Himachal Pradesh are in­flu­enced by the indige­nous Ra­jputana style, ex­press­ing the rich art and cre­ativ­ity of the re­gion, a ma­jor in­flu­ence is from the refugees who came here from Ti­bet, mak­ing Tibetan hand­looms eas­ily avail­able in the mar­kets of Shimla, Dharamshala, Manali and McLeodganj.

PANJA OF HARYANA

With Pa­ni­pat nick­named as the ‘City of Weavers’, it makes Haryana the hub for tra­di­tional In­dian tex­tiles. Panja weav­ing, a craft mainly used to

make dhur­ries, mean­ing light wo­ven rugs used as floor cov­er­ing, is the high­light of this re­gion. The craft gets its name from a me­tal­lic claw-like tool called panja in the lo­cal di­alect which is used to beat and set the threads in the warp.

PANKHI OF UTTARAKHAND

The most cher­ished hand­loom of Uttarakhand is the pankhi, which is a long, woolen shawl made by tra­di­tional weav­ing meth­ods. These are made out of spe­cial rab­bit wool called An­gora wool.

CHIKAN OF UTTAR PRADESH

In­cor­po­rat­ing ap­prox­i­mately 36 dif­fer­ent stitch­ing tech­niques, the Luc­knowi chikan is the most el­e­gant form of em­broi­dery from Uttar Pradesh. While tra­di­tion­ally it was done on muslin cloth with white thread on white fab­ric, to­day it can be seen on cot­tons, crepes and chif­fon in an ar­ray of pas­tel colours.

KOSA OF CHATTISGARH

A type of tus­sar silk, the Kosa weave pat­terns from Ch­hat­tis­garh are block printed, painted or em­broi­dered. Kosa silk is val­ued for its pu­rity and tex­ture and is drawn from co­coons es­pe­cially grown on Ar­jun, Saja or Sal trees.

BAND­HEJ OF RA­JASTHAN

The band­hej and chu­nari prints are the most pop­u­lar of­fer­ings of this re­gion where ar­ti­sans use wooden blocks for print­ing for one and tie & dye tech­nique for the other, re­spec­tively.

PA­TOLA OF GU­JARAT

This state is a treat for hand­loom lovers! While it is mostly fa­mous for its pa­tola print, an ex­clu­sive tie and dye tech­nique with in­tri­cate weav­ing, Gu­jarat also of­fers hand­looms with block prints us­ing veg­etable dyes, and its pop­u­lar Kutch em­broi­dery as well.

CHAN­DERI OF MAD­HYA PRADESH

Home to the del­i­cate chan­deri silk and ma­hesh­wari saris, Mad­hya Pradesh of­fers sim­ple yet el­e­gant hand­looms. The spe­cial­ity of chan­deri saris is that silk is used as the warp and cot­ton for the weft to weave them, mak­ing it a per­fect blend of com­fort and ele­gance.

BOMKAI OF ORISSA

This bright coloured dyed weave has thread-work or­na­ment bor­ders that they use to make saris. The con­trast­ing use of ma­te­rial and colours makes this a unique hand­loom.

TUS­SAR SILK OF BIHAR

In­dia is the only coun­try which of­fers all four va­ri­eties of silk, one be­ing the tus­sar silk from Bihar, a va­ri­ety of hand-wo­ven cot­ton mul­muls, a tex­tured fab­ric weaved by giv­ing a low-twist to silk yarns.

KANTHA OF WEST BEN­GAL

One of the most el­e­gant hand­looms of In­dia comes from West Ben­gal in the form of the Baluchari and Kantha work saris in cot­ton and silk. While the Balucharis re­flect the rus­tic cul­ture of vil­lages, the Kantha em­broi­dery show­cases the cre­ativ­ity of the re­gional ar­ti­sans.

KUCHAI SILK OF JHARKHAND

This weave of hand­loom is found in the Khar­sawan-Kuchai re­gion of Jharkhand, thus de­riv­ing its name.

LEPCHA OF SIKKIM

The Lepcha weaves or ‘ thara’, derived from the Lepcha tribe in Sikkim, is wo­ven in ver­ti­cal looms of small width with a back­strap. To­day, cot­ton and woollen yarn are used to­gether with veg­etable dyes and syn­thetic colours to spin Lepcha yarn.

MUGA SILK OF AS­SAM

Known as the Silk Heaven, As­sam pro­duces the King of Silks, Muga, a golden yel­low fab­ric na­tive only to this re­gion. This rich silk is ex­tracted from the semi-do­mes­ti­cated silk­worm An­ther­aea as­sama.

SHINGKA OF ARUNACHAL PRADESH

Weavers from this re­gion use indige­nous or­ganic ma­te­ri­als for weav­ing ap­parel such as the Shingka, which is a tribal dress worn by Monpa women in the West Ka­meng dis­trict. It is a light red sleeve­less gown with white stripes worn with a sash at the waist, wo­ven us­ing coarse silk thread.

PUANS OF MIZORAM

Noted for their beau­ti­ful de­signs and in­tri­cate em­broi­dery, puans are like lungis or sarongs tra­di­tion­ally worn by the women. Mizo women weave mo­tifs and tra­di­tional de­signs on their loin-looms, which are then used in shawls and shoul­der bags.

ENDI SILK OF MEGHALAYA

The lo­cal women of the Meghalaya tribes carry out the weav­ing of the sturdy Endi silk, us­ing back-strap or loin-looms, ex­cept the garos who also use frame-looms.

RISAI OF TRIPURA

Adorned with pride by the lo­cal women, Risai is the part of the dress that cov­ers the up­per body. Its fab­ric has both hor­i­zon­tal and ver­ti­cal straight pat­terns of weaves, form­ing a striped lay­out, which is sup­ple­mented with vary­ing pat­terns of em­broi­dery con­trasted with colours.

NAGA SHAWLS OF NAGALAND

Found mainly in red and black wool, Naga shawls are made by weav­ing three pieces separately and stitch­ing them to­gether, out of which the cen­tral stripe is more dec­o­rated than the other two.

PHANEK OF MANIPUR

In­naphi and Phanek form the tra­di­tional dress Phanek, worn like a sarong, is wo­ven by hand in hor­i­zon­tal red stripes.

KALAMKARI OF ANDHRA PRADESH

With print­ing be­ing na­tive to the land, one of the most pop­u­lar hand­looms of Andhra Pradesh is the Kalamkari cloth, which even to­day, is printed with lo­cal veg­etable dyes in the shades of ochre, deep blue and rose.

KAN­JEE­VARAM OF TAMIL NADU

Adorned by al­most ev­ery bride, the Kan­jee­varam finest silk with con­trast­ing bor­ders and pallavs with a va­ri­ety of zari mo­tifs such as rudrak­sham, and gop­u­ram.

PAITHANI OF MA­HA­RASH­TRA

Ma­ha­rash­trian woman would want to in­herit from their mother are the exquisite Paithani saris, which come in bright shades of red, green and yel­low with con­trast­ing bor­ders and gold coin or pea­cock mo­tifs.

KUNBI OF GOA

Worn by the Goan Adi­vasi women work­ing in the paddy fields, the che­quered pat­tern in vi­brant hues of ma­roon, in­digo and green give Kunbi its unique fea­ture.

POCHAMPALLY IKAT OF TELANGANA

pat­terns in silk and cot­ton hand­looms such as Pochampally, Venkata­giri, Gad­wal, Narayan­pet, Dhar­mavaram, Up­padas, mak­ing it a ver­sa­tile state for hand­looms.

MYSORE SILK OF KARNATAKA

Mysore silk saris with gold zari bor­ders need no in­tro­duc­tion. Saris from Bel­gaum are also quite fa­mous for their de­signs.

KASAVU OF KERELA

is hard to miss peo­ple draped in the off-white Ker­ala saris and mundus with a kasavu or gold cot­ton fab­rics with color or gold zari bor­ders and a kasavu stripe on the pallav.

FOUND MAINLY IN RED AND BLACK WOOL, NAGA SHAWLS ARE MADE BY WEAV­ING THREE PIECES SEPARATELY AND STITCH­ING THEM TO­GETHER.

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