History of Weaving in Rajasthan
Ancient terracotta spindles and fabric, excavated from the Indus Valley civilization, are best evidences to the familiarity of the crafts of spinning and weaving. Weaving in India is predominately a cottage industry and in the state of Rajasthan, the village weaver has been the community’s sole source of fabric. The loom has held a fundamental position in the social, economic and cultural lives of the people.
Effects of Urbanisation on Weaving in Rajasthan
With the advent of modernisation and industrialisation of the Indian textile sector, mill-made fabrics have made severe incursions into the village weavers’ traditional monopoly. The unique beauty of the Khaadi, Reza and fine Mathania Mulmul from Rajasthan, is becoming rare with the passing years. Powerlooms are fast replacing handlooms in most urban and rural areas. However, hereditary weaving-skills live on in many families in Rajasthan and economically viable products like Kota dona, pattus, durries, jajams and pile carpets, in traditional and contemporary designs are still woven in the colourful state of Rajasthan.
Process of Weaving in Rajasthan
Knowledge of the principles of weaving is found even amongst the most ancient people of Rajasthan. The process itself is simple and consists of 4 basic steps, irrespective of the kind of loom, level of technology or the pattern to be woven. The basic steps of weaving in Rajasthan are shedding, picking, beating and taking up and letting off.
Shedding is the process of raising or lowering the warp yarn by means of harness and heddles to create a shed. The weft is passed through this shed in a process that is known as Picking. This process is followed by Beating, in which the weft or filling yarn is evenly packed and made compact with a comb-like structure, called the ‘Reed’. Once the primary motion is complete, newly formed fabric is rolled on to the cloth beam and fresh warp is released from the warp beam. This taking up and letting off is the ‘secondary motion’ in the weaving process that is prevalent in Rajasthan.
Final Product of Weaving in Rajasthan
The village weaver in Rajasthan traditionally produces 2 types of cotton cloth, the Khaadi and the Reza. These are woven either as yardage or a finished garment, like an Odhna or a Dhoti. Khaadi is made from hand spun yarn in a plain weave, while a basket weave is employed for the thicker Reza fabric. These fabrics are then dyed and patterned as required.
The art of weaving has been epitomizing the culture of Rajasthan since decades. However, many modern mechanisms are slowly entering the weaving market of Rajasthan, but the demand for Khaadi and Reza in original form has yet not stooped low.