The Eastern part of India, especially Bengal weavers, are renowned for weaving with the finest count of hand-spun cotton yarn for a long time. Unfortunately, we are seeing such fine arts on the verge of extinction. Therefore at Anuprerna, we are in a continuous endeavour to revive such beautiful complex crafts working with certain experienced weavers.
India has a rich handloom history of producing the most beautiful textiles. Khadi is one of them. The word ‘Khadi’ is derived from ‘Khaddar’, a term for handspun and handwoven fabric in India. When handspun yarn of count higher than 150, gives rise to a finer quality called Muslin. According to researchers this superior quality variety of cotton fabric is said to have originated in East Bengal.
Phuti Karpas (Gossypium arboreum var. neglecta) was the cotton plant used for weaving this fine khadi. Its fibres are said to be the silkiest and responsible for the fine and delicate characteristics of the fabric. However, it could only grow natively.
Pre-Independence, heavy taxes were imposed on Handloom fabric along with the introduction mill produced cotton fabric. These factors compelled the weavers to resort to other means of livelihood.
Khadi Movement in India was started by Mahatma Gandhi. During the Swadeshi Movement of India, he reintroduced handspun & handloom,handweaving of fabric and popularised it as Khadi, which came to be known as the Khadi Movement. But Post Independence, there was a lack of market and demand due to competition from cheaper mill manufactured textiles. This made it difficult for the craft to be re-established.
Coupled with challenges exclusive to the finest handloom Khadi, the craft of 500 count and other fine quality of Khadi faced its downfall.
The spinning & handloom weaving process of such a fine variety of khadi is an interesting as well as a labour-intensive process. The yarns are so fine, that they can easily break if weavers are not experienced. It can take up to 10 years for an artisan to learn how to spin a 500 or 1000 count of Khadi. Several other factors influence the process such as the humidity which prevents the yarn from drying out and breaking, as well as the eyesight of the weavers.
At Anuprerna, we are in a continuous endeavour to revive and keep alive such beautiful & complex Indian handloom fabrics such as the 500 count fine Khadi by working with experienced weavers.