Fighting fake weaves
P Gopinathan, Padma Shri awardee and a weaver in Balaramapuram, says “We won the GI tag in 2010 for our handwoven fabric that is still woven on traditional pit looms. Only the finest cotton and zari from Surat are used. Even today, women are trained from childhood to apply rice starch and coconut oil to polish the threads. They are paid a pittance, but it is their skill that gives the cloth its durability and polish. Such skilled, manual work pushes up prices but when cheaper saris from neighbouring states flood the market, we often get a raw deal.” Customers must be able to differentiate between the real Balaramapuram weaves and duplicates, he continues. “We hope the government will take immediate steps to tackle this. As it is, the long hours, low wages and poor sales have stopped many youngsters from following in their parents’ footsteps. The pandemic has sharpened the blow,” concludes the octogenarian who weaves and supplies the fabric to showrooms in Thiruvananthapuram.