This National Handloom Day, we talk about our work in the field of handloom weaving as well as our partnerships with IKEA and FabIndia that have given a new lease of life to handloom weavers in India.
The Handloom Industry in India has had to compete unfairly with mills and power looms, making handloom products seemingly more expensive than their electric-powered counterparts and thus leading to a lower demand within the country. This has forced many weavers to abandon their traditional occupations and be forced to migrate to cities in search of work.
RangSutra has been working closely with IKEA to develop a range of handwoven throws, towels and cushion covers that has ensured regular employment to our weavers in Rajasthan. This has boosted their incomes and given them renewed faith in their traditional work. The fact that no electricity is required in operating the looms is an added benefit.
With careful utilization of raw materials, economies of scale due to the large quantum of orders, and close coordination throughout the supply chain, we have been able to create handwoven products for everyday use that have reached IKEA stores and customers all over the world.
The IKEA and RangSutra partnership ensures that artisans can work right in their villages – so they do not have to commute long distances. Weavers are able to spend time with their families, and live in spacious surroundings, a far cry from the poor, often inhuman living conditions that many migrant workers have to endure in cities. Many from the next generation have shown an interest to take up weaving. The chance to create new designs, learn new techniques, work in the company of friends and neighbours, and create world-class products right from their villages, and of course earn a good income, is appealing.
Partnership between RangSutra & FabIndia
We believe in the beauty of collaboration: celebrating shared victory and teamwork. Rangsutra was founded in 2006 with a vision to enable artisans across the country to achieve sustainable livelihoods through principles of fair trade and undying love for India’s rich craft heritage. Since our inception, FabIndia has continually been our partner and promoter of village handlooms work and traditional crafts and skills. We thank you for your support, and can only sing tunes of gratitude today while reminiscing this ‘Fab-ulous; journey. It is our hope that this beautiful relationship carries through, growing all the more, in the days to come.
A special feature of the handloom industry in Manipur, where the fabric for this earlier FabIndia collection was woven, is that all the weavers are women. They act as the second-largest economic opportunists in the state after farmers. Weaving was considered a woman’s strongest asset, and a loom was often presented as dowry during marriages. This is why the state has a higher concentration of weavers possessing looms, according to a 2010 Handloom Census. While traditional motifs have depicted spiritual and cultural local traditions, modern styles and colours have been inducted willingly by weavers. The Extra Weft technique has been used since the early days of the craft, wherein an extra coloured yarn is used in tune with a regular warp yarn during the weaving process.
Our work in Handloom Weaving
Rangsutra has worked with a network of artisans in Barmer, Rajasthan since 2010 and pushed innovation in the craft of Pattu weaving by training weavers to work with finer cotton counts while simultaneously retaining the traditional technique and motifs associated with Pattu.
Pattu is derived from the word ‘Patti’ which means thin strips of cloth. Pattu craft evolved in Western Rajasthan within the Meghwal community. It is a process of fine weaving with interesting geometric patterns inspired by regional flora and fauna. A Pattu shawl that is long enough to drape the entire body typically takes ten days to make and is a unisex garment traditionally worn by the local rural population. Camel and sheep wool in natural shades of brown and black act as the main raw material; however the introduction of dyes has led to a more eclectic colour palette.
A collection of breezy sarees woven with an extra weft has been the brand’s attempt to honour heritage in today’s globalised world. Multiple ranges of home accessories (in the form of cushions and rugs) have also been designed in association with weavers and artisans in Bikaner and Barmer. The fabrics are woven on a pit loom, and motifs carefully inserted with an extra weft insertion.
Join us as we celebrate the weavers, spinners and craftspeople of our country.