Ahead of National Handloom Day (August 7), we speak to some brilliant craftsmen who narrate what their work looks like and where it could head, if not preserved
Published: 06th August 2022 09:36 AM | Last Updated: 06th August 2022 09:36 AM | A+A A-
Weaver Kumar at work
We often are left disappointed upon learning the prices of some of the prettiest handloom sarees but here’s us to help you understand why they absolutely deserve every singly penny you shell out. At a humble weaving centre in Choutuppal, Nagole, a master weaver, Vanam Bhaskar’s work starts as early as 8 am and goes on for 13 more hours. He who specialises in Pochampally Ikat sarees says that each saree and design come with a lot of detailing and demands not just skill but also patience. “I started weaving for the first time when I was 12, and have been doing this for 35 years now. All of us here are natives of Choutuppal. When I first came to Hyderabad, I worked at a private college but quit soon. Later, I started my own business but shut shop again, after a year. Then I chanced upon working on my skill of maggam work (embroidery done using an eponymous hooked needle), and got in touch with other weavers as well. We have been operating in the city for eight years now,” the 47-year-old tells CE.
Explaining how the price for their work is decided upon, he says, “I weave sarees only when an order is placed — the price is fixed based on the work it takes, I do not associate myself with retail. Each saree takes about 10 days to make — right from sourcing the raw material to looming the thread. Not many know about what it takes for the saree to reach them, and hence complain about the price — only the saree is looked at, not the artists behind the weaves. While the government is doing its bit to encourage us, we also hope they do away with the GST on handlooms, we barely earn much. I’m a 7th-grade dropout who pursued his graduation over correspondence, I hope more people from the younger lot take this up to keep it going.”
Ramulu, another weaver, has been in the business since he was 14. “I’m 60 now, and all I know is this skill of weaving. My hands and legs move according to the loom machine. This demands a lot of precision for the detailing and with my eyesight growing poor, I got spectacles but there’s only so much time I have left with this skill. Earning my bread and butter through this is tough. Despite working from 8 am to 9 pm, we end up earning just 8,000 rupees per month,” he laments. Weaver Kumar, while taking us through the process of their work, says, “Every detail and dot should be placed carefully while looming. If there ever forms a knot, we have to repeat the entire process again, from scratch. I hope people get to witness and realise the amount of hard work that goes into making a perfect saree.” Other weavers there like Nagabhushan, Ravi and Ramanarsaish share similar stories of despair.
Vijaya, a woman who takes care of putting up these threads on the loom rightly cries foul to say, “People remember and recognise us only on days like these — things go back to being the same again. This is why all the effort we put in is never really appreciated. I know of several women like myself who want to take this art form forward but give up because of the meagre wages. I myself face such tough dilemmas sometimes only to remind myself that if we give up, it dies with us.”Weavers Lipika and Supriya to point out that lack of new takers of and skilled labour are the biggest threats handloom is facing today.
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