Recently I had a chance to visit village of Dedadra in Surendranagar district and see unique textile tradition of Tangaliya weaving and interact with craftspeople.
Gujarat,western most state of India,has always been famous for its textile traditions. Surendranagar district of Gujarat is one of the largest producer of "Shankar" cotton in the world. No wonder many textile traditions, like Tangaliya weaving, Khadi , single Ikat have flourished in this region.
Arid land of Surendranagar District
Tangaliya, 700 years old hand weaving technique, is native to Gujarat. Traditionally it is woven by Dangasia community of Surendranagar district. Dedadra village is one of the main clusters for Tangaliya weaving.
There is an interesting story behind Tangaliya art. According to folklore one Bharwad (shepherd) boy fell in love with daughter of weaver and married her. This displeased his family and he was thrown out along with his wife. So he settled down with his in-law's family and continued to herd sheep. Slowly he learned art of weaving from them. He used sheep wool for his weaving and started weaving shwals. Thus the art of Tangaliya weaving was developed. Today it is woven using varieties of yarns like cotton,merino wool and eri silk. Product line has also developed keeping in mind modern requirements.Interesting sidelight to this story is that, today this art is not taught to daughters of the family, as daughters can pass on this knowledge to other families when they get married and create competition for existing craftsmen!! Idea of protectionism exists since ages it seems!
Bobbin being prepared out of yarn
In summers and winters,warp is prepared in the open while in monsoon it is done indoor.
Yarn is ready for weaving.
Warp is ready.
Tangaliya weaving is very labour intensive process. It is special technique of weaving where dana-work (bead of yarn) is done using cotton yarn. Bead is formed by tying yarn on 2,3, or 4 warps depending upon design. This also brings out design on both sides of fabric.
Attaching a dana(yarn bead)
Traditionally weaving is done on pit looms ,though at some places now frame looms are also being used.
Weaving in progress.
Fabric is ready.
Unfortunately today this beautiful art has no takers. Government has give "GI"(Geographical Indication) tag to this crafts which means quality assurance and also defines facts of its origin. But no follow up measures are taken by government for marketing of this product. Weavers lament their woes. Many of weavers do weaving only part time as they do not get sufficient work. More and more of them are now leaving their traditional craft. They prefer to work as farm labourers rather than do weaving as it provides them with continuous work. Is this end of road for this hand weaving craft too? It seems it will soon die and future generation will not enjoy beauty of this wonderful craft.
Hands that weave
tell thousand tales
of relentless toils.
Patterns and weaves
come and go
in thread he weaves.
His soulless eyes
designs of his dreams.
Reds and Greens
on the beam.
White and black
and hues of Grey
paint his life grim.
bending on his loom
in airless room
waits for his doom.
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