Though the pandemic has left the weaving business in Balaramapuram hanging by a thread, the weavers hope to regain pleasure of place for his or her high-quality work
Abhilash Rajendran continues to be spinning gold at Payattuvila, a small village on the outskirts of Balaramapuram, 20 kilometres from Thiruvananthapuram.
Payattuvila is among the many locations round Balaramapuram that weave the GI-tagged Balaramapuram cottons that Thiruvananthapuram is known for.
On a Sunday previous to Onam, a minimum of 40 weavers, women and men, are laborious at work weaving dhothis, saris and Kerala’s conventional settu-mundu. Regardless of the 2 lockdowns, Abhilash and his father, Rajendran Okay, are decided to maintain the work going at their centre, Sree Nandanam Handloom.
“My forefathers had been weavers and I learnt weaving on the age of 14 from a grasp weaver at Kattachalkuzhi. In these days, virtually each home within the neighborhood of Balaramapuram had a loom,” says Rajendran.
In darkish, dusty sheds, on the trademark pit looms of Balaramapuram are woven the high-quality unbleached cotton fabric with gold borders that has put the place on the style map of India.
Pivoting across the pandemic
The pandemic got here as a blow in 2020 when their looms needed to be shut down for 3 months. “We incurred heavy losses and we nonetheless haven’t recovered from it. Because of this, not many people can afford the actual kasavu (zari) used to weave the gold borders. The actual kasavu is thread plated with silver after which actual gold. The value varies with the costs of gold and silver. So many people have switched to weaving with second-quality kasavu, which is copper plated,” explains S Asokan, secretary of Venganoor Village Built-in Handloom Weavers’ Growth Cooperative Society.
Whereas the value for material woven with actual kasavu is from ₹10,000 onwards for a Kerala sari with a slender border of kasavu, it tumbles right down to round ₹2,000 when second high quality kasavu is used, say the weavers.
For a similar purpose, on the six-acre Eco Tex Handloom Consortium at Machavilakam, a consortium of 26 weaving cooperatives arrange by grasp weaver Gopinath, the one weaver to be honoured with a Padma Shri, only one weaver is working with the actual kasavu.
“Powerloom-woven dhothis and saris are forcing the actual handlooms out of the market as it’s less expensive. The standard is inferior to that of the handlooms that we weave. Though the federal government has introduced schemes to assist the handloom weavers, the authorities should appoint handloom inspectors who can confirm that the handlooms bought are genuine,” says the grasp weaver. After the lockdowns, there are solely 350 girls weavers on the consortium as in opposition to 1,000 in 2019.
The costs of the genuine handloom go up as it’s a labour intensive course of involving many fingers and a whole lot of hours of laborious work,” explains designer Alan Alexander Kaleekkal of brand name RAHÉL in Thiruvananthapuram.
Every employee will get between ₹500 to ₹750 relying on the variety of items woven day-after-day. One Kerala sari takes eight to 10 hours of labor a day over a interval of 5 to 6 days. The motifs are impressed from native lore, natural world resembling peacocks, mangoes, paisley, leaves and geometric designs together with polka dots, strains and checks.
The weavers on the looms
Binukumar, a weaver educated by Rajendran, smiles as he works dexterously on a designer Kerala sari with mango motifs. It’s being woven for one the oldest boutique retailers promoting Balaramapuram handlooms. “The mark of our handlooms is that because the motifs are handwoven, the design is identical on either side of the material. Whether it is machine woven, the design will likely be just one aspect,” he says as he arranges the thread rigorously to weave a pink mango on the cream sari with a golden border.
The kasavu is purchased from Surat the place cotton thread is plated with pure silver after which gold plated. “At current a reel of actual kasavu varies between ₹16,000 and ₹20,000. It varies in accordance with the costs of silver and gold,” says Abhilash.
In one other shed at Payattuvila, males are weaving with jacquard playing cards on that are punched designs to be made with the kasavu. Displaying a sample being made on the border of a dhothi, Abhilash says with a smile that it’s the similar designer dhothi that Mohanlal sports activities in an upcoming movie, Aarattu.
“It was woven right here for the movie. The design is punched on playing cards with computer systems or manually with the assistance of design graphs and the threads kind the design accordingly because the warp and weft are moved to kind the material,” he explains. One other dhothi’s border has Kathakali faces as a motif. Abhilash says it’s an Onam particular that’s standard.
“The Onam season is sort of over and we haven’t actually been in a position to recoup our losses. We’re wanting ahead to the wedding season and house-warming features that normally happen within the month of Chingam (August-September) within the Malayalam calendar. For weddings, most prospects insist on actual kasavu and that helps us,” says Rajendran at the same time as he’s busy weaving the mundu of a pudava.
A dhothi for a bridegroom with the well-known tamarind leaf motif, referred to as puliela kara in Malayalam, is being woven on an adjoining loom.
Rajendran, who has woven for the Lakme Vogue Week Reveals and main designers, is assured that with a serving to hand, they’d be capable of revive the glory of their legacy.
“Now we have the ability and the know-how. All we’d like are prospects to help us. We additionally weave customised designs,” says Abhilash.