Tapestry Tales in Handlooms

Story on traditional weaving of grass, jute and cotton, as a way of life of rural communities.

Loom used for weaving Madur (2016)Banglanatak

Natural fibre weaves in handlooms

Just like cotton and silk, varied indigenous natural fibres are woven on handloom as a cultural tradition of India, in both eastern and western regions. These natural fibres are woven by different rural communities who have been practising this craft for generations.

Carpet weaving (2016)Banglanatak

West Bengal is rich in a variety of locally grown natural fibres, majorly, madur and jute. Basic, rudimentary handlooms are used by these weavers.

Setting threads on the frame (2015)Banglanatak

Different types of handlooms are used to weave natural fibres by different communities. 

Seen here is a simple floor loom.

Artists weaving Madur on a loom (2016)Banglanatak

A large number of rural households weave different types of natural fibre across the districts of Midnapore, Dinajpur, in Bengal. 

Madur weaving (2018)Banglanatak

Madur weaving of Bengal

Madur is the craft of weaving the grass reeds with cotton yarns on a handloom, by interlacing the reeds in the weft and the yarns in the warp. Looms used to weave madur are made of simple bamboo frames.

Madur weaving (2016)Banglanatak

Madur weaving is a cottage industry of West Midnapore in Bengal. The cluster, Sabang, has undergone design and technical interventions by many stakeholders and designers. 

Today this is a vibrant hub employing about 5000 craftspersons. 

Madur making process (2016)Banglanatak

Both men and women have great mastery in making handloom madur products by skilfully processing, dyeing, arranging the reeds and yarns on the looms, and weaving.

View the process of making madur in this video. 

Colourful Madur Products (2017) by Artists from Paschim MedinipurBanglanatak

Madur patterns and designs

The talent, artistry and creativity of the weavers can be seen in their beautiful colour combinations and use of motifs, that make their products alluring. 


Patterns in a Madur (2019)Banglanatak

Seen here, and in the following frames are different motifs and colour combinations used in madur weaving.

Patterns in a Madur (209)Banglanatak

Multicoloured stripes is a popular design on madur.

Patterns in a Madur (2019)Banglanatak

Simpler stripes with subdued shades of yarns bring out the natural colour of madurkathi (madur reed).

Artist weaving Dhokra (2019)Banglanatak

Dhokra weaving of Bengal

Dhokra is a unique jute mat weaving tradition of North Bengal. Women of the indigenous community, namely the Rajbanshis and the Polis are engaged in weaving. 

It is believed that they belong to an ancient community originally from the Koch Dynasty, and the name Rajbangshi literally means 'of royal lineage'.

Dhokra artists at work (2019)Banglanatak

Dhokra weaving provides livelihood to hundreds of women in Dinajpur districts who practice this craft in between their household chores. 

Seen here is the pre-processing of jute yarns before fixing on loom for weaving.

Dhokra process (2019)Banglanatak

Seen in this image are dyed dhokra yarns which are drying, before being fixed on the looms for weaving.

Artists weaving Dhokra (2019)Banglanatak

Dhokra is woven on a back strap loom. The loom is supported by two thick bamboo sticks or bars which are fixed to the ground. Between these bars the warps are stretched. 

Leather or cloth band is used to fix the loom around the woman’s back to tension the loom with their body weight.

Dhokra wall hanging (2019)Banglanatak

Dhokra products

Dhokra weavers make a range of products including wall hanging,...

Cushion cover made from Dhokra (2019)Banglanatak

...cushion covers,...

Dhokra Bag (2016)Banglanatak

...different types of bags,...

Dhokra Mat (2017)Banglanatak

...and table mat sets.

Tools for Durrie weaving (2020)Banglanatak

Punja durrie of Rajasthan

Durries are unique homespun rugs hand-woven with strong and thick yarns for everyday use. 

Durrie weaving is a beautiful tapestry handloom tradition of Rajasthan. 

Durrie artist- Ramesh Mundal (2020)Banglanatak

This Indian version of carpets can be found in the village of Salawas in Jodhpur where it is called Punja durrie. The rug has its own utility and charm. Traditionally durrie was made of camel hair and and sheep wool, but now they are made with wool and cotton. 

In old days durries were called ‘Jhat ka Ganda’ and were used on camel back and exported to the Middle Eastern Countries to douse fire in oil wells.

Design planning for Durrie weaving. (2020)Banglanatak

Durrie weaving is a household tradition and a community craft where all the family members are usually involved in different parts of the process, starting from yarn processing to weaving and then finishing, for markets.

Durrie weaving loom (2020)Banglanatak

The weaving is done in simple horizontal floor looms installed in the courtyards of the weavers' houses. 

Durrie maakin tool- Panja (2020)Banglanatak

The comb like tool used for bitting and setting the weft yarn for perfecting the designs is called Punja. Hence their name Punja durrie. Durries of Salawas in Jodhpur are famous for their high quality and durability.

Durrie weaving process (2020)Banglanatak

Usually the process of making a 5 ft by 3 ft durrie takes about 15 days and the monotony of the process is broken through conversations with family members and fellow weavers working together on a loom.

Durrie Product (2018)Banglanatak

The Salawas Punja durries are famous for their unique geometric patterns.

Durrie Product (2019)Banglanatak

These patterns are woven in stunning vibrant colours.

Durrie Product (2018)Banglanatak

The motifs are linked to their local lifestyle and surroundings such as peacocks,...

Durrie Product (2018)Banglanatak

...and camels.

Madur weaving (2016)Banglanatak

Traditional knowledge embodying timeless legacy

Handloom is one of the most fascinating and high skill techniques of weaving that requires knowledge of yarn materials,  science of the looms used, skill of complex counting, and an inherent sense of design. 

Madur weaving (2015)Banglanatak

It is also an art form that carries the living moments of the weavers thus preserving their emotions and devotion associated with this craft. Its relevance is increasing in the current times for its highly sustainable production process. 

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