To all the gorgeous men and women who have tagged me today as they celebrate National Handloom day, thank you.
As I go through each post, I’ve been thinking about what it is that we are hoping to impact. Sharing some thoughts…
To my mind the real challenge of “ (Hand) Made in India” is a question of sustenance. To scale up and scale out, the weaver, weaver clusters and Cooperatives need much more than photos of us in handloom.
What makes handloom special ? That it is hand made, that the magic combination of the loom, a frame of wood and a few ropes, and the hand skill and memory of the weaver, can produce a simple weave or mind boggling and mathematically precise designs and motifs that last for years.
But are the weavers getting the cotton or silk to weave at a fair price ? Do they have the resources for inventory or will a leaking roof make days of work, and stock, waste away ?
Will tired eyes get an eye check up and remedial glasses to weave the intricate threads into cloth ?
Will they have direct access to a fair market that will put a fair price to their effort ? Most elderly weavers are uneducated and know nothing but weaving, but the next generation’s ambitions cannot be curbed. Education is giving them options and handlooms are NOT an attractive option at this time.
This is the real issue. While many of us are willing to pay a high price for handwork, weaving, hand block printing, hand embroidery…we may not have anyone who would want to carry the tradition forward in the future.
Now that is a sobering thought. The atrophy of skills needed for hand loom and hand made.
How do we make it attractive for the weaver to continue to weave ? The dyer to make natural dyes from dwindling forests ? The cotton grower to grow more organic cotton ? The farmer to grow mulberry plants that are healthy that the silk worm can feed on ? Will they have enough water for their farms ? Electricity ?
If we continue to condemn them all to a life of bare essentials because of our need to possess their handiwork, something has to give.
This is the importance of handloom and handmade…that the hands of the artisans hold our heritage, our history, our art and our past. It is for us as a people to decide if this is worth saving.