History of Handloom
Saree is the most aesthetic attire out of all the other attires for an Indian woman. Indian Saree is one of the oldest attire in the world and has been here for ages. The Indian saree has also been mentioned in the Vedic literature which itself is more than a thousand years old.
With the growth of civilization, the style of wrapping a saree has also evolved, but from fashion shows to traditional weddings, saree has always stolen the limelight successfully. Every region of India takes pride in weaving their own kind of saree. India has always been a place of various rich clothes such as silk and cotton.
Traditionally, Handloom refers to various types of wooden frames used by skilled craftsmen for weaving natural fabrics like Cotton, Silk, Jute, and Wool, etc. The whole family used to be engaged in the process of spinning the yarn, coloring and weaving the fabrics. The fabrics manufactured from these looms were also called handloom. The tools traditionally used for weaving the fabrics are made of wood or sometimes Bamboo and don't require any electricity. Handloom has a rich history in India and the history of handloom is truly fascinating for every saree lovers.
Handloom in Ancient India:-
The origin of Indian Handloom dates back to the Indus Valley civilization. Even these fabrics used to be exported to countries like China, Egypt, and Rome. In earlier times, every village would generally have their own set of weavers who used produce clothes according to the demand of the villagers. During Winter, there used to be particular wool weaving centers but everything was handwoven.
The cotton, silk or wool was collected from the farmers, foresters, and shepherds. The agricultural labor community or weavers themselves used to clean and transform the cotton. Small handy instruments including the famous spinning wheel(also known as Charkha) were used in this process. The cloth was later made from this handspun yarn on the handloom by the weavers.
Handloom During Colonial Period:-
The colonial rule was a dark period in the history of handloom. During this time, India became a chief exporter of raw cotton and the whole country was overwhelmed by machine-made imported yarn. The British also imposed torture and violence on the people to increase the consumption of this yarn. As a result, the traditional spinners lost their livelihood and the handloom weavers became dependent on machine yarn. These yarns were brought from a distance so yarn dealers and financiers became necessary. The handloom industry began to fall more and more into the control of mediators. Also, the weavers used to have little profit.
The weavers lost their independence and most of them became wage base or contact base traders. In spite of all the turmoil, the Indian handloom managed to survive until World War 1. After that, machine-made clothes flooded the Indian market. The advent of power looms in the 1920's, the unification of mills and costly yarn created an unfair competition that culminated in the decline of Handloom.
The revival of Handloom:-
Mahatma Gandhi began the Swadeshi Movement and again introduced hand spinning in the name of Khadi which essentially defines hand spun and handwoven. Every Indian was inspired to spin the yarn using Charkhas and wear Khadi. This led to the closing of the Mills in Manchester and a huge turning point in the Indian independence movement. People burnt imported foreign clothes and chose to put on Khadi.
Handloom in Post Independence Era:-
After Independence, textile mills and spinning mills continued to function in India. Today, different weaving styles exist that uses machine-spun yarn and these fabrics are termed as Handloom.fabrics made from Handspun yarn are named Khadi fabrics.
Though the textile and spinning mills thrived in Independent India, handloom/khadi were preserved from unfair competition. Thus, the fabric became widely popular and purchasable for everyone.
Post 90’s liberalization, the handloom industry faced competition from cheap imports and design imitations from power looms.
Government funding and policy protection also started to decrease rapidly. Also, the cost of natural fiber yarn has risen up in comparison to artificial fiber. This makes it unaffordable for the common people. Though the wages of handloom weavers have remained still for the past decade or two. Being unable to compete with cheaper poly-mixed fabrics, many weavers are quitting weaving and choosing for unskilled labor work. The remaining ones have become extremely poor.
The history of handloom is intricately connected to the economic and social history of India and contributes a lot to the country's enrichment.
The Vama is the most suitable place for a modern woman to buy traditional handloom sarees of her choice. We have successfully maintained the heritage of Indian sarees. The rich collection of Jamdani, Kantha, Handloom, Tant, and Khesh Sarees has turned the Vama into one of the best online stores for purchasing ethnic and beautiful sarees.