Indian handlooms are known for their richness, exquisiteness, variety and fine quality. They are an integral part of Indian culture and no festival or occasion is complete without them. The passage of time has brought about a change in the weaves, patterns and designs boasting of glamor, magnificence and exquisiteness but the importance of handlooms still remains the same.
As an economic activity, handlooms comprise the largest cottage industry in the country. Millions of looms across the country are engaged in weaving cotton, silk and other natural fibers to bring out traditional beauty of India’s precious heritage and also providing livelihood to millions of families. There is hardly a village where weavers do not exist weaving out the traditional beauty of the region. The skills and activities are kept alive by passing the skills from generation to generation. What sets our handloom apart is the excellent workmanship, color combination and fine quality.
Indian weavers blend myths, faiths, symbols and imagination to bring an appealing dynamism to the fabric. It is the distinct form of art, weave and color usage of the artisan that give every region its distinctive identity and uniqueness. Today varieties are created using contemporary fiber, modern designs and new techniques of weaving.
Popular weaves of India
Andhra Pradesh is renowned for its handloom. It produces the most exclusive sarees and dress-materials, having delicate and distinctive designs. Each saree boasts of an intricate pallu and a delicate border adornd with gold thread work. The looms of Pochampalli, Venkatagiri, Gadwal, Narayanpet, Dharmavaram, Uppadas are well-kown for their silk and cotton sarees all over India. Mangalgiri cottons and Kalmkari prints are the other varieties of the state. Usually, both the loom and the fabric are known by the name of the place.
Bihar is know for Tussar silk which is a non mulberry silk variety and handwoven cotton Mulmuls. The weaver community developed high level of silk in tussar silk spinning to give unique low-twist tussar silk yarns which helped create the characteristics tussar textured silk fabrics that are unique. The Mulmuls of Madhubani, like the paintings, are still a craze amongst lovers of fine cotton fabrics.
The ‘Kosa’ of Chhattisgarh is a type of tussar. It comes in varied weave patterns that are block printed, painted or embroidered, The sturdy kosa yarn called giccha is coarse and is more durable. The silk is is valued for its purity and texture. Kosa Silk is drawn from cocoons especially grown on Arjun, Saja or Sal trees. Available naturally in shades of gold-pale, dark, honey, tawny, baccoto beige, creamy, etc.
Gujarat is famous for its Patola print. This is a tie and dye technique which requires intricate weaving thereby making it expensive and exclusive. They are known for their flaming vibrant colors and geomatric designs interspersed with folk motifs. Gujarat handlooms are also well known for the block prints using vegetable dyes and the famous Kutch embroidery.
Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir is popular for its printed pure silk, crepe and chiffon sarees, kashida embroidered dresses, the pashmina shawls with delicate hand embroidery. The tweeds and embroideries are so unique that it is a pride to be in possession of them. The elegant color and bold embroidery make them very popular among every age group.
Karnataka is the home of mulberry silk. The Mysore silk sarees with pure zari borders are the dream possessions of every woman in India. The printed silk, silk sarees with kasuti embroidery, the belgaum sarees are the other famous varieties available in the state.
Madhya Pradesh is the home of delicate Chanderi Silk and Maheshwari sarees. Soft, subtle shades in delicate weaves come off the looms in Chanderi. Here, silk is used as the wrap and cotton for the weft to produce the famous Chanderi sarees. The Maheshwari craftsmen have perfected the art of weaving a wide variety of checks and designs.
Maharashtra is known for its rich and exquisite Paithani brocades that are the prized heirlooms and possessions for many even today. They come in Kum-kum colors with contrasting borders with gold coin or dot motifs. The Vidarbha Karvati saree in kosa silk is famous for its texture and pattern with temple design borders which are unique and elegant.
Orissa is famous for its sambalpuri and Bomkai handlooms. Sambalpuri ikat is a double tie and dye art where intricate designs based on mythology are created by the tie and dye technique in both silk and mercerized cotton. The bomkari is the other special variety where border designs are based on mythology with animal and floral patterns. Due to the richness in fabric used, these handlooms are priced higher and look more elegant with time.
Rajasthan is very famous for the bandhani or bandhej which is also a tie and dye technique. The leheriya is a special variety of tie and die where diagonal stripes are created in cotton, silk, crepe, chiffon and kota doria fabrics. It is also famous for its sanganeri block, Dabu and bagru prints. Gota, zardosi and zari are used for bridal and formal ensembles. The patch work especially in home furnishing is gaining popularity.
The Chettinads and Coimbatore cottons are famous of Tamil Nadu. They come in stripes and checks with traditional borders which appear rich and aristocratic.
The Lucknow chickan embroidery is very famous of Uttar Pradesh. Delicately designed and embroidered on cottons, crepes and chiffon, they are usually available in pastel colors and reflect elegance.
The Baluchari and Kantha work sarees in cotton and silk of West Bengal are of great attraction. The Balucharis reflect the rustic culture of our villages while the Kantha embroidery exhibits the creativity of our artisans. It is an exotic form of embroidery in which the eye, emotion and skills are combined into one. The Dacaai’s Tangails and Batiks are the popular cottons of the state.