Monday, July 6, 2009

Mashru Woven Cushions

Product: Cushions

Region of Production: Gujurat. Whilst Mashru weaving was once common in many parts of India, the hub of production is now Gujurat. Patan is one of the most important centres for mashru weaving.

Craft Process: Mashru. Mashru is distinct from other fabrics because it has two faces, cotton on the reverse side of the fabric, and silk on the outer. The fabric was developed because of religious laws pertaining to Shar’ia Muslim men, who were not allowed to have pure silk touch their body so this fabric composed of silk warp and cotton weft was developed. Mushru is an Arabic word meaning ‘permitted’ and may have been brought to India from the Middle East. The double sided fabric enabled men to wear clothing that had on the exterior the rich, decorative qualities of woven silk. When worn, the cotton weft is inside and the silk faces outwards, Thus when used in garments the cotton layer comes in contact with the body forms an absorbent protective layer to the rich and decorative exterior. Weaving is characterized by its bold colourful patterns and stripes of various colours and sizes, including small floral or geometric patterns in alternate stripes. There are many types of Mashur including sangi, galta, gulbadan and susi, the differences are based on pattern, colour, weave and location of production. Whilst once widespread, the production of Mashru is now limited to Patan, Mandvi, and Surat in Gujurat.The fabric which is still hand woven on pit looms uses cotton and silk threads which are now locally available through traders. In the contemporary scenario, the fabric is now used for decorative cushions and table accessories apart from garments.

Producer Organization: KHAMIR

KHAMIR stands for Kachchh Heritage, Arts and Craft, Music and Integrated Resources. Set up in the aftermath of the 2001 earthquake, KHAMIR was initiated in partnership with Kachchh Nav Nirman Abhiyan (KNNA) and the Nehru Foundation for Development (NFD). In 2003, KHAMIR began working to sustain local livelihoods and empower the creative industries in Kachchh, Gujarat. KHAMIR works to reposition, revitalize, and promote Kachchh’s handloom weavers sector. The local market for woven cloth decreased in the 1960's due to the production of synthetic fabrics, causing unemployment and a drift of weavers to other sectors. Despite challenges, there remains great potential and opportunity for Kachchh’s handloom sector. In Kachchhi, the region’s dialect, KHAMIR also means 'intrinsic pride'.

Regional Snapshot: For centuries, agriculture, and craft have been Kachchh’s predominant livelihoods. Each is an integral part of the local culture and landscape. The region has a vibrant heritage, rich craft and music traditions, and unique ecology. Each are a source of local strength, identity, and pride.

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