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Handloom – Fabric of Freedom #AtoZChallenge 2017

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

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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.

Join me and hundreds of other bloggers participating in the #AtoZ Challenge 2017.

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A granny who always sees the humour in life and tries to do things differently. When others make cupcakes, this granny makes banana fritters. When she’s not busy chasing her grandchildren who love making her run around, she indulges in her passions of reading, writing, meeting friends and watching movies. And somewhere between all this she enjoys travelling and cooking!

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36 Responses

  1. Neha says:

    Now they have some soft feel khadi and I am loving it.
    Neha recently posted…My honor, my lifeMy Profile

  2. LadyInRead says:

    thanks for this post..
    LadyInRead recently posted…What I have missed while taking a break from my blogMy Profile

  3. Kalpanaa says:

    I love handloom fabrics. I’m so glad you’ve chosen this as your theme.
    Kalpanaa recently posted…HindsightMy Profile

  4. Arti says:

    I’m glad to have stumbled upon your blog. I’m an ardent (albeit recent) admirer of Indian handloom industry. In fact, I was contemplating writing about the charkha for C, but chose clothes instead. I was in Kutchh in Feb of this year and I was spellbound by the weavers at work. Will be visiting you often, I think.
    H is for How are you?

  5. vaidehi says:

    nicely written.

  6. bushra says:

    Handloom signifies the rich Indian culture and yes they are so comfortable on wearing
    Beautifully penned, Thanks for sharing
    Dr. Bushra
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  7. You would have had to do a lot of research on this topic. Sounds like you are really passionate about it. To be perfectly honest, I don’t know much about fabrics apart from regular cotton, wool, satin and chiffon. I’m trying to remember what handloom looks like…not sure I can but it’s interesting to know the history.
    Sanch @ Sanch Writes recently posted…#HarrishamRhyme: Over #atozchallengeMy Profile

    • Bellybytes says:

      Dear Sanch – you are right, I would have to do a lot of research. Sadly I don’t have much time to be thorough so am actually taking a lot of shortcuts and leading readers to actual links . I do love fabrics and textiles and can actually see the garden where the Quit India Movement was launched from my balconey!

  8. Eva says:

    I love your post today, how the craft work is associated to freedom.
    I’m a knitter, and most of the times I try to buy hand-spinned and hand-dyed yarns. Or, at least, yarns from small companies/farms. Sometimes it’s more expensive, but I find it rewarding in different ways.

    EvaMail Adventures

  9. I didn’t know handlooming still existed today in fabric manufacture – it’s nice to think that traditions like that haven’t completely died out.
    Leanne | cresting the hill
    Leanne | http://www.crestingthehill.com.au recently posted…The A-Z Challenge ~ Why Midlife’s Fabulous ~ HappinessMy Profile

  10. Modern Gypsy says:

    There’s something about that image of Gandhi at the spinning wheel that speaks of self-sufficiency and pride. I quite like the feel of finely woven khadi!
    Modern Gypsy recently posted…Harness the power of water: 5 fun painting techniquesMy Profile

  11. Vidya Sury says:

    Handloom is beautiful and perhaps one of the materials that looks great even when it is old. SO many varieties today! I saw a handloom fashion show recently and absolutely loved it.
    Vidya Sury recently posted…How to Train a Wild Elephant #AtoZChallengeMy Profile

  12. What a brilliantly chosen topic – this one fabric is what has literally got us our freedom and now in today’s times there is a call to save our handlooms as this industry is now on a wane and needs saving!

    Your textile tales are superb – keep going!!

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  13. Wow! Lovely article . I love silk handlooms from all the different parts of our country.

    Best wishes,

  14. Handloom close to my heart always. I love south cotton, it best suits the south Indian weather.
    Launching SIM Organics This April
    *Menaka Bharathi *
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  15. Sreesha says:

    Khadi and handloom cotton is actually very comfortable to wear during the summers. Don’t think I associate it with rough fabric, as there are softer handlooms as well.
    Sreesha recently posted…I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing | #AtoZChallengeMy Profile

  16. Shalini R says:

    Handloom! You’ll get the very best in Kerala too 🙂
    Shalini R recently posted…Idli BatterMy Profile

  17. I personally love the original Khaadi. I remember buying a readymade mens kurta, styling it to size and fabric painting on it. Wherever I went I got asked where I picked it up from:)
    Mayuri Nidigallu recently posted…I is for… #AtoZChallengeMy Profile

  18. Madras Skirt says:

    Khadi is a symbol of self-reliance, patriotism, and reminds us of the National Movement and of Mahatma Gandhi who made this fabric famous and an icon of the Indian freedom struggle.

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