A Brief History of the Handlooms in India

India has been a very diverse land of many unique things. This diversity is seen in handloom sarees too. India's heritage handlooms represent the timeless traditions, diverse cultures and unparalleled and exclusive craftsmanship that have amazed the world. All the little work on handlooms is showcased, loved and praised all over the world. Every thread used till the handmade techniques showcase Indian ingenuity and expertise. This expertise has been there since the Indus valley civilization. There are writings on embroidery and dying in Vedic literature. These Handlooms of India have a great beginning and gorgeous history.

The Journey of Handlooms in India

The First Steps

Vedic considered these as high-standard occupations. With the settlement of Aryans, the craft was not just honored but also efforts were made to develop it. New spinning, weaving and dyeing techniques were introduced during this beautiful period. The craft of a family or household has today become a huge industry. With the trade began, this industry gained enough love and prominence to go across seven seas and reach the West. Many explorers have loved the fabric of India and have written about it. Today India has one of the oldest and largest cottage industries in the country. Explorers, historians and today’s designers have always mentioned India’s handlooms represent classic and precious culture and tradition.

The Rise to the Tips

With the Mughals' step into India and their love of beauty. With their patronage and craftsmanship of the era, the handlooms era just bloomed into a garden full of colors and beauty. During this golden age of beauty and craft, handloom sarees like Sambalpuri, Banarasi, Jamawar, Maheshwari, Nuapatna Khandua, Mulmul and others came to our eyes. Another royal patronage in South India also gave rise to Venkateswari, Hazarbooti shined brightly. With the evasion of many kings ,few communities fled away to other regions and started handloom weaving as their livelihood. Sambalpuri handloom sarees and Bomaki handloom sarees are such examples. There are many other sarees weaved by the tribal communities which rise to the markets after exploration, encouragement and government efforts.

The Downfall of Handloom Sarees

25% of the world textiles produced in the world were from India during the 17th century. But once the British came in, they started exploiting the Indian handloom artisans. With unfair trade practices, high taxes and torture of the artisans, the handloom industry of India met its downfall. The Industrial revolution again pulled down the handloom market. Everyone wore the machine-made fabrics and handlooms were least bothered. The swadeshi movement led by Mahatma Gandhi indicating self reliance kind of revived the handloom sector of India.

The Journey of Handlooms in India

Pushing the Handloom Sector

To push the handloom sector up, the Indian Government has been taking many steps to bring back the glory. The Khadi and Other Handloom Industries Development Act were passed in 1953 to help allocate funds and provide marketing support to the weavers. And many other cooperatives and institutions were set up across the country with the function of research and training support, namely the All India Handloom Fabrics Marketing Cooperative Society, Weavers’ Service Center, and the Indian Institute of Handloom Technology and the National Handloom Development Corporation (NHDC). Today multiple organizations are working on the development of the handloom sector.

Facts About Indian Handloom

About 27.83 lakh households today are employed in weaving and allied activities. Currently, the country has an inventory of over 2.4 million looms and India constitutes 95% of the world's hand-woven fabric production. Handloom is the second-largest rural economic industry after agriculture. In an era of sustainability and environment friendly choices, handlooms have become one of the first choices of conscious consumers.


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