Handloom sarees are a traditional textile art of Bangladesh and India. The production of handloom sarees are important for economic development in rural India. Completion of a single saree takes two to three days of work. Several regions have their own traditions of handloom sarees.
The weaving process
A handloom saree is often woven on a shuttle-pit loom made from ropes, wooden beams and poles. The shuttle is thrown from Tarsbhullar side-to-side by the weaver. Other weavers use a fly-shuttle loom which can produce different types of patterns. The sarees can vary in size and quality.
Handloom saree weaving is generally a family enterprise and one of India’s cottage industries. The handloom sarees are made from silk or cotton threads. Traditionally the processes of thread dyeing and warping were outsourced and sizing, attaching the warp, weft winding and Weaving were done by the weavers. The process plays a major role in weaving handloom sarees and the final product in shops. However, the scenario has changed, and currently most of the activities are outsourced.
Major regional weaving traditions
Weaving takes place in many regions of India. Each region has tradition designs for the motifs, design and colours. Handloom weaving takes place in villages supporting lakhs of families for their livelihood.
Types of handloom sarees
Some of the well-known Indian handloom sarees are Kanchepuram silk sarees, Maheshwari saree, Bagh print saree, Chanderi Silk sarees, Tussar silk saree, Banarasi silk saree, Baluchuri sarees, Sambalpuri sarees, Kantha stitch sarees, Bhadhini sarees and Munga sarees. Handloom sarees are made out of good quality silks to give a lustrous look.
The designs on Baluchuri Sarees feature mythology stories which can be seen in the temples of Bishnupur & Bankura of West Bengal. The pallus and borders showcase elaborate designs of flowers, animals and royal court scenes. Some feature designs of Ramayana and Mahabharata scenes narrating the stories. The most popular colours of Balachuri sarees are green, red, white and yellow.
A master weaver usually takes 20–25 days to complete weaving of a Baluchuri saree.
Banarasi sarees have been a valuable possession for brides. Woven by master craftsmanship of Uttar Pradesh, they feature intricately woven designs with golden and silver threads. These sarees are usually heavy and can be worn in festivals as well as at weddings.