Delving into the heritage of Handloom industry



A handloom is basically a loom which is a device used to weave cloth without the use of any electricity. The shape and patterns on the cloth may vary, but the basic function is same for all handlooms. Some of the well-known Indian handloom saris are Kanchipuram silk saris, Maheshwari sari, Bagh print sari, Chanderi silk saris, Tussar sari, Banarasi silk sari, Baluchari saris, Sambhalpuri saris, Kantha stitch saris, Bhandini saris and Munga saris.


There are different types of Handloom fabric materials from different states. Handlooms are found in most Indian homes and liked by many. Let us know about the history behind it. 7th August is celebrated as National Handloom Day to celebrate India’s rich History.


The roots of origin of Handloom come back to Indian sub-continent. Archaeological evidence trace it back to the time of Indus Valley Civilization. There are traces of floral and other prints on cloth which were found during the reign of Mohenjodaro civilization. Subsequently Aryan settlers too adopted the technique and experimented with cotton and wool followed by adding fabrics with dyes and embroidery.



Spinning, weaving, dyeing and other textile art forms gave rise to the cottage industry. This even became a source of income for people as it became so famous that international trades started. The Roman Empire traded cotton and muslin fabrics and other western countries started trading Indian silk via China through the silk route. The invasion of Mughal emperors made the weavers create more royal clothes. New fabrics like ‘Mulmul’, ‘Benarsi Brocade’, ‘Jamawar’, etc expanded its markets. The demand for Indian textile grew massively. India was contributing 25% of the textile industry in the 17th century. Bengal accounted for about 50% of it.


When the East India Company came, the weavers were forced to sell exclusively to the British at very cheap rates. The profit makers were pushed to poverty overnight. After the industrial revolution, there were machine made fine products sold at a cheaper rate and at bulk. The Indian handloom weavers could never compete with it. It was a bad time for Indian textile.



Soon the freedom struggle started and so did the Swadeshi movement. Mahatma Gandhi’s spinning wheel became a symbolic representation of the importance of swadeshi movement and wearing kadhi became a symbol of self-reliance and self-determination. This helped in giving the people the pride and feeling of one nation.


After India became Independent, the government of India helped in the restoring the growth of Indian handloom sectors. Parliament of India passed the Khadi and Other Handloom Industries Development Act in 1953. The All India Handloom Fabrics Marketing Co opoerative Society was formed in the year 1995. The motive of this was to promote Indian handloom fabric.


Talking about the handloom sector today, India is the largest producer of hand-woven fabric worldwide.


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