From the loom of M.Sridhar
Weaving is an art that blends threads of different colours in a loom to produce some of the exquisite designs on clothes. M.Sridhar, 44 years, has been in the weaving business along with his father for more than a decade. As a family, they have been into this for over 60 years, with his father doing it right from the age of 15. They have gone a long way in making bedspreads, blankets and doormats and in each weaving a story of their lives that speaks volumes...
Excerpts from Sridhar’s Interview:
Can you take us through the process of weaving?
The first step is to procure the threads from mills / co-operative societies. We get Cora - the half-white threads and dye with suitable colours based on the bed sheet design, pattern etc. We usually get our dyes from Mumbai and some dyes are prepared locally too. Once dyed and dried the threads are tied to a rattle to get it ready for thari(loom) and then the weaving begins. A proper weaving setup requires warp(தொகுப்பை), Weft (ஊடு), Loom (தறி) and the thread (நூல்). Finally, we send back the finished product (on an average we take about 3 bedsheets per day) to local markets, where our products are displayed and sold.
What are the other products offered by weaving?
We also make blankets and doormats apart from bedsheets. The price varies depending on the thickness of the fabric (yarn counts), threads used and the method of dyeing.
We are one of the members in Weavers Co-Operative Societies which gets support from the government of Tamil Nadu. We use the raw materials that we get through Societies to make the bedsheets, pillow covers, towels, etc and send it back to them for sales.
Speaking of government help, can you provide us more insights into their role?
Yes, we are provided with government support to some extent. Threads are distributed by the government and the rest of the materials are procured by us to make the bedsheets. We also take individual orders from other companies, businessmen for extra income.
How do you view the progress of Handlooms in India?
Since the inception of civilizations, people primarily focused on agriculture and weaving and our ancestors chose the latter as their occupation. People during the pre-independence period had a great following for Khadi clothes which was later improvised with more designs and patterns. Currently with the large scale manufacture of clothes by power looms and low prices they are considered better alternatives than handlooms.
Your association with Kairaasi…
Our first impression on Kairaasi was that they had good knowledge and background of weaving. They did motivate us to make creative designs and that made our work interesting.
What would be the future scenario for handlooms?
While Handlooms produce some of the most exquisite designs and patterns, they are out beaten by power looms and air looms in the aspects I mentioned above. Since Handlooms are quite intensive, intricate work of art, the skills don’t match up with the wages that workers get paid.
With such drawbacks, next-generation is neither keen on learning this skill nor working on it. For example for making jacquard bed sheets, we pay Rs.380 for hand weaves whereas people working in power looms get Rs.600 for making the same. We have ten looms for making bedsheets which may last another 4 to 5 years, but not more than that. After this period even if we provide threads or raw materials to our labors they are not ready to take up this work.