CHAPTER I . WOVEN TEXTILES
Keeping alive Kutch's traditions of natural dyeing and natural yarn.
ONCE UPON A TIME
The Marwada communities, creative, versatile, textile weavers, leather and woodworkers, are the origins of the nowadays weavers in Kutch region (Gujarat, India).
For socio-economical reasons the weavers would always be linked with their local clients, who were either from a pastoral community (like the Rabaris who would supply the yarn from sheep and goats) or from a farming community like the Ahirs (who cultivated Kala Cotton). For this reason, Kutchi woven fabrics were used to have designs replicating the lifestyle of the communities who wore them, such as musical instruments, the footsteps of an animal herd, etc.
KUTCH WEAVING NOW
The traditional bond between communities was once insulating the trade of weaving, and therefore had to be stopped, in order to be visible again in the modern markets.
Due to this drastic change, weavers, who were traditionally used to work with local and natural resources, started then to look for their raw materials outside of Kutch and became users of acrylic yarns instead.
Bhujodi, now a popular Kutch weavers village, is base for the "Bhujodi Weavers Cooperative". This group of few enterprising weavers was created as a response to the market declination of 1960's (when artisans were forced to adapt to the larger markets demands and to look for non-local clients), bringing together all the local weavers.
These Bhujodi's weavers, focus as much as possible, in keeping alive their traditions, in the use of natural dyeing, of natural yarn, etc; and institutions like Khamir engage themselves in helping the weavers communities, the Vankars, building sustainable businesses.
The nomadic Panja hand loom is the mother of Kutch weaving, being replaced after by other looms with more advanced technology: the shuttle looms - pit looms and frame looms.
Before the actual weaving starts, the yarn is dyed traditionally in vegetable colours, like indigo or lac, and prepared for many days (where women play a major role).
Then, the weaver (traditionally a man) creates various designs on looms through sequential movements of pedals.