'Indian Handlooms', a termthat spells exquisity, ebullience and enunciate a multifarious equip of excogitatingdesigns, both ethnic and modernistic. Providing livelihood to 90 millionpeople, the level of artistry and intricacy achieved by Indian handloom fabricsis unparalleled and beyond the scope of modern machinery, preserving itsheritage and culture.

With a long tradition of excellence inits craftsmanship, Indian handloom is said to have dated back to the ancientages. The earliest Indian fragment of cloth (before the Christian era) with ahansa (swan) design was excavated from a site near Cairo.Later excavations from Harappan sites revealed a scrap of coarse madder dyedcloth and a terracotta spindle whorls which evidenced their expertise over handlooms,Indian handlooms, to be more specific.

The turning point of Indian handlooms andits weavers is said to be Indias independence i.e. 15th of august, 1947. TheCharkha acted as a symbol of national regeneration, as propagated by MahatmaGandhi, and the focus on the weavers of Indian handlooms during the Indianfreedom movement was largely responsible for the breakthrough. And at the dawnof independence, Indian handloom industry became the largest cottage industry ofthe country, a point of recognition which is still maintained.

Indian handlooms cater to the needs of adiverse cultural ethos ranging from exquisite fabrics to popular items of massproduction for daily use. A village without a weaver is a myth in the Indianscenario; millions of looms across the country are busy producing thetraditional beauty of a precious heritage called Indian handlooms.

Undoubtedly cotton gave the splendid weavers of Indian handloom theirresplendent expression but silk and woolen cloths also originated during thepre-Vedic era, endemic to India. In the world ofhandlooms there are muslin of Chanderi, silk brocades of Varanasi, the ikatsfrom Andhra and Orissa, the tie and dye from Rajasthan and Gujrat, the phulkariand khes of Punjab, jacquards from Uttar Pradesh, thephenek, tongam and bottle designs from Assam and Manipur, and lots more.

Indian handloom continues to be craftoriented, even though it was circumscribed by a limited choice of processingand technology. The Indian handloom industry mainly exports fabrics, bedspreads and covers, quilts, shams, pillow covers, curtains, towels, tablelinen, cushions and pads, tapestries and upholsteries, carpets, etc, the whole lotneeded in making a house a home.

Looking back, the story of the Indianhandlooms in the last fifty years is one of patient nurturing of an industrywhich touches upon the livelihood of millions of Indians. Little efforts weregiven to develop the Indian handloom sector during the first half of thepresent industry. The handloom weavers were pitted against modern textilemills. Their ingenuity and skill contributed to their success in preserving thelong tradition of excellence of Indian handlooms.

And in today's date Indian handlooms aregoing global in a big way and have found support in the designer community."Handlooms represent not just an industry but the cultural heritage of India. It needs to chart out a road &sec=article&uinfo=<%=server.URLEncode(2413)%>"target="_new">mapfor itself. Designers can play a major role in promoting handlooms. However, sofar we have not been able to utilize our own resources to cope up with thechanging lifestyles and aspirations. The handloom industry and the fashiondesigners should work in coordination to initiate yet another 'swadeshi'movement," Rathi Vinay Jha said at the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Weekheld in the capital recently.

A rich and resilient media of ethnic expression, Indian handloom is given isdue respect by the government too. National awards are given every year tomaster weavers in recognition of their excellence and contribution. Anexpression which deserves to be respected and preserved, Indian handlooms todayfinds place in the national and traditional design vocabularies of the world.

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