Here’s some of what the Lonely Planet – India chapter Gujarat has to say about the Tana Bana handicraft workshop:
“One of the graduates of the Somaiya Kala Vidya design school for artisans, weaver Ramji Maheshwari demonstrates his craft on a traditional pit loom. It is a traditional profession and skills are passed on from father to son. Scarves, shawls and other quality items for sale.”
KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
After our second night at the Rann Visamo Resort it was time to say goodbye to the staff who had taken such good care of us, and had fed us so well, despite the fact that the four of us were the only guests during our two-night stay. It was time to head to the beach at Mandvi where we planned a three-night stay so that we could unwind after a hectic week tearing around Gujarat.
We would be stopping at two textile establishments along the way, the first in a small village to see weaving and the second, to Abu Bakar Wazir’s Museum Of Quality Textiles, a gentleman who had made it his life’s mission to collect and preserve an array of Gujarati fabrics. The textile museum is located in Bhuj and once our visit there was done, we were going to have a traditional Gujarati thali lunch at the Prince Hotel. Yum!
We really didn’t need a detailed explanation about the visit to the weavers at the Sumarasar village, sometimes it’s best to just show up and see what they have to offer. When we arrived, we were invited to sit on some lovely woven stools and were shown how to spin small clumps of wool into yarn on a traditional spinning wheel.
After watching for a little, I gave it a try and managed to cope for a short time, but I’m only too happy to say I’m glad I don’t have to do it for a living.
Our host then took us over to show us one of his weaving looms. I’ve seen so many looms of all different shapes and sizes, back home and in my travels that I just gave it a cursory look or two. However, what really caught my eye was the fact there was a hole cut in the earthen floor so that the weaver could sit with his feet comfortably below him, and wasn’t required to sit cross-legged in front of the loom.
I had to wonder if this is a new development, done for the younger generation who have grown up sitting on chairs, working at tables and are not as comfortable to sit for hours on the floor, working as their parents and grandparents used to do. Regardless of when this started, I think it’s a terrific idea.
Once I got a little closer in order take some photos of the weaving, I noticed that the design threads weren’t being added by using different shuttles to weave the different colours into the main body of the cloth. Instead, the man was using a needle and a long piece of black thread to add the design. He would weave the tip of the needle in and out of the warp (lengthwise threads strung out tightly on the loom) and pull the thread till it was taut.
Then he would make a pass with the shuttle, loaded with white thread across the width of the cloth. He would pack the rows of threads together and then make another part of the design using the black threads and the needle.
The problem with creating this type of design, is there is no way to tied off the loose ends of the black threads without the knots showing. They had an unusual way of dealing with this, they just cut the threads off leaving a short ‘tail’, one that wouldn’t work its way out of the tightly woven fabric.
To see what I mean, have a close look at the shawl our host modelled for us at the end of the visit. You can see the some of the tails of thread floating freely from the ends of the design motifs.
There wasn’t much more to show us, so we stepped inside to have a look at the weaving they had for sale. I struggled to find something simple to buy, I really didn’t want anything as I have so many shawls and scarves at home already, but it seemed the right thing to do.