Handloom for freedom
Every village shall plant and harvest its own raw-materials for yarn, every woman and man shall engage in spinning and every village shall weave whatever is needed for its own use.
~ Ideology of Khadi
In the ancient world, India was known for her fine handloom fabrics and weaves. Even today, our handwoven textiles are much sought after all over the world. But in modern times, handloom is inextricably woven with our freedom movement. The word HANDLOOM is associated with khadi or khaddar, the rough hewn fabric woven out of hand-spun cotton.
Our ancient skill and craft was virtually put to death during the British Raj . Indian cotton was re-imported back to India and sold as cloth. Indian handwoven textiles found it hard to compete with the sheer volume and output of machine made fabric. Gandhiji thought to bring about an economic revolution of sorts by taking up the wooden spinning wheel and re-introducing this village craft to every Indian.
On the banks of the Sabarmati, at his ashram that he established in 1915, Mahatma Gandhi first took up the charkha or the humble spinning wheel. This soon became the symbol of India’s freedom. For him it was a way of asserting economic freedom, a movement that would free Indians from buying British made cloth that was spun out of our very own cotton! And in 1918, he started the Khadi movement as relief programme for the impverished rural masses. Spinning and weaving evolved into an ideology for self-reliance and self-government.
Spinning yarn dignified manual labour . It also established a certain bond between the rich and the poor who joined the khadi movement.
Thus began the khadi crusade that spun metres and metres of yarn woven into hand woven cloth. Khadi soon became fashionable and was embraced by Indian freedom fighters. Khadi eventually morphed from a mere piece of cloth to a way of life
Resurgence of Handloom Industry
Once again, handloom found its place in our textile manufacture and today it is a firmly entrenched cottage industry. Millions of looms across the length and breadth of this country are producing textiles made of natural fibres like cotton, silk and wool. The fabrics range from the rough and sturdy to those that are fine and delicate. Handloom comes in yardage of different textures and thickness using blended yarn too.
We have Madras checks, fine silk from Kanjeevaram and Assam, bright tie and dye from Rajasthan, brocades from Benares, ikkats from Gujerat, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. In fact we have handwoven fabrics from every part of India that is used in garments, home furnishings, household linen and curtain tapestry too.
With such a range of uses and a variety to choose from, it is no wonder that Indian Handloom is a much sought after commodity still!
Disclaimer : I am neither a textile manufacturer nor a historian . I am just passionate about textiles and fabrics. I have gathered all my information from the Internet. Please excuse any errors and omissions.
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