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The technology of handloom weaving

Leah Spencer

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Clothing is one of the three basic requirements for humans. Ever since olden days, cloth has been experimented with and given different colours and textures. Handloom or hand woven cloth has its own significance as it is made by ones own hands, requires efforts and hence is more valuable. In India, handloom is a source of livelihood for many people. It is specially beneficial for women as quite a large number of them are involved in this and it gives them financial independence.

The basic idea of handloom is a machine or device on which cloth is woven with hands. The basic crux is the intertwining of warp and weft threads to weave cloth.

The basic terminology used in handloom is as follows -

1. Loom- Machine

2. Warp- Longitudinal thread

3. Weft- Horizontal thread

4. Weave- Intersecting or intertwining of warp and weft thread

5. Harness- A rectangular frame

6. Heald- Long needle like groves with eyes from which warp thread is hung

7. Shuttle- Boat shaped carrier device

8. Pirn- Small wooden piece on which weft thread is wound

9. Pick- Crossing of thread from one side of loom to the other

10. Saddle- Wooden pieces which are moved by foot for weaving process

11. Yarn- Thread

12. Hank- Long strands of yarn

The methodology of handloom weaving is as follows-

The design which has to be woven is made on paper highlighting the pattern, size and colour shades. The yarn or thread is in the shape of a cone. This yarn is rearranged in long strands called Hanks. This strand is adjusted in the heald by knotting one end at the back side of the loom and pulling the other end or the open end to the front side of the loom. The thread that is passed through the heald is called the warp thread. The heald can be compared to a big size needle with holes through which the thread is passed, just like an getting an ordinary needle ready for sewing. The weft thread is wound on the pirn and many such pirns are made. It is then placed in the centre of the shuttle. In the weaving process the warp thread moves from top to bottom while the weft thread moves from left to right and right to left. Moving these threads in their stipulated directions, the cloth is woven by intersecting of the threads in different patterns. The two common patterns are 1/1 (one up one down) plain weave or one warp-one weft and 2/1(two up one down) weave or two warp one weft. The pattern can only be made by moving the threads one on top of the other in the form of up-down, up- down pattern. The shuttle saddle throws the shuttle first from left to right and then from right to left. Thus a particular cloth is woven.

The significance of handloom lies in the fact that it is methodical and continuous just like a moving clock which is sequential in its functioning. Many saris are woven on handloom and the basic fundamental is the contentment one gets as the end product is the result of one's hard work.

So next time you come across a handloom house, remember the toil of a fellow human being and do not hesitate to loosen your purse strings. Remember that you are contributing to some one's daily needs and livelihood.

Checkout Rajavivaha , the men & kids traditional wear online shop in India. Rajavivaha offers pure silk shirts, readymade dhotis, kurtas, silk dhotis for wedding and other special occasions.


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