Indian Handloom is not just an Art; Science and Mathematics are embedded in each weave of this Centuries-old art form
The Handloom Sector represents India’s glorious culture and heritage. It is also an important source of livelihood in the country. Moreover, Handloom plays a vital role in empowering women as over 70 per cent of handloom weavers and workers are
women. Also, this cottage industry is the second biggest industry in terms of employment after Agriculture.
This ancient knowledge needs appreciation that “Handicraft is not just a product but a masterpiece” to survive over to future generations.
Each region of India has a unique type of Handloom, and one such is the Patan Patola weaves. This traditional art form has been in use since the 11th century that is over 900 years. Unlike some weaving styles where designs are printed onto fabric, in Patan Patola, the threads are dyed first with mathematical precision according to the patterns.
Avipsha Thakur, a handloom evangelist and founder of Bunavat, highlighting the science behind such art forms, says “we always talk about Handloom and handicraft as an art form, but there is so much in terms of the mathematical calculations of precision in patterns. There is a rhythm to all of it and combined together, it is a beautiful amalgamation of art and science. This is
what makes handlooms so unique.”
It can take anywhere between six to twelve months to weave one saree. Such long timelines impact the final cost of a product. That explains why the royalty wore Patan Patola fabric.
According to Sarvan Salvi, an engineer who turned Master Weaver of Patan Patola, “the pattern and colours used on a saree will last
for several years even if the saree gets torned.”
Weavers families such as the Salvi family have kept this unique art form alive. They have passed on the heritage from one generation to another for over 900 years. For this, the Savi family have received multiple awards from successive Indian governments.
In the last several decades, modernisation, the culture of mass consumption and demand for cheap products have severely impacted the handloom industry. As a result, traditional weaver families who preserved this art form for centuries could not make a decent living sell their art. Thus, thousands of families quit this industry and move on to
other forms of lively hood. Due to such mass migration, many unique designs and patterns and have been lost.
Handloom enthusiasts and social entrepreneurs have joined forces with government initiatives to revive this ancient knowledge in recent years.
Ruchi Jha Founder of iMithila
One such social entrepreneur is Ruchi Jha, who is working on conserving the Madhubani art form in its true state. Her
startup iMithila provides a bridge between weavers and end consumers, thereby making the product affordable and maximizing returns for a weaver.
Ruchi is also helping the weavers adapted their designs & patterns to be in sync with the latest trends. According to Jha, she is working on "preserving the traditional Madhubani art form by making it relevant using contemporary products for the urban population."
Ruchi also has taken it upon herself to narrate the traditional stories through handloom and handicraft products.
Avipsha Thakur advocates, "orientation towards art forms and weaves" should be included in our education system. As it will imbibe appreciation and understanding of the rich heritage that our ancestors have blessed us with.
Salvi Family Museum Patan Patola
Savan Salvi has created a textile museum called Patan Patola Heritage. According to Master Weaver, his"family is working keenly on promoting the art as well as preserving it." In addition, they are working ardently on creating awareness about the Patan Patola art form by showcasing different kinds of weaving patterns and equipment in their museum.
Handloom and Handicrafts are contributing to the socio-economic development of India. However, this ancient knowledge needs appreciation that "Handicraft is not just a product but a masterpiece" to survive over to future generations.