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Are e-tailer weaving web of revival for rare textile crafts?

Posted On: July 24th, 2017 11:53 AM, IST By Super User
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Be it the Telia Rumal or the patola, e-tailers are resurrecting rare textile crafts back from oblivion, finds out Gargi Gupta

The Telia Rumal of Telengana is one of the more exquisite of the little-known and languishing textiles of India. A variation of the double ikat — an extremely intricate weave in which both the warp and the weft (two strands of yarn criss-crossed to form cloth) are resist-dyed according to the complex design — the Telia Rumal gets its name from the process of dipping the yarn in oil before it is woven, and, because, originally these were made into squares that were coveted as headgear by Middle Eastern sheikhs. Done the old-fashioned way, the Telia Rumal is a time-consuming weave, taking a month or two to finish a single sari. This makes it expensive — each sari costs about Rs 15,000 explaining why the Telia Rumal was well on the one-way street to oblivion. There remain, according to NGO workers working in the textile domain, only about 20 weavers practising the art today.

now the tide seems to be turning with demand picking up, some say, by about 50 per cent. "Earlier, I used to get 20 pieces. Now, the weavers are producing around 30 pieces," says Sudha Rani, CEO of Abhihaara, a social enterprise that works to sustain craft traditions. Rani credits this to e-commerce sites of Jaypore, Avishya and others. "Online retail gives global reach, especially to customers who have the money and taste," says Rani. Unlike in India where it's the sari that is popular, abroad Telia Rumal scarves, stoles and table covers are also finding a market. Increased demand means incomes too are rising, adds Rani. "Weavers would earlier make Rs 14,000; now they don't make less than Rs 20,000 a month."

Telia Rumal is not the only textile craft to have gotten a lease of life thanks to online retail. There has been a proliferation of e-tailers that sell Indian handloom and crafts, too — Jaypore, iTokri, Parisera, Avishya, Gaatha and Masmara. Archana Shah, founder of Bandhej, a well-known brand that specialises in indigenous handcraft textiles, says, "In Kutch, some of the younger generation of artisans are constantly putting up their work on the Internet," says Shah.

There are limitations, however, says Shah. "Given the millions of people involved in the handloom sector, it will take much more than the amount of business from online retail currently to truly make a difference." Jaypore founder Shilpa Sharma makes the point that online retail has limitations. "Even with very high zooming capabilities, it's not possible to communicate the beauty of the weave or the textures. We need a way to tell the story of our crafts to people abroad. It's only then that we can create demand," she says.

Source: http://www.dnaindia.com/lifestyle/report-a-web-of-revival-2503298

Last modified on: April 25th, 2024 01:07 PM, EST
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