A Community Activity

Weaving is a community activity

Handloom has a complex history and this shapes the contradictions and strengths of the industry. It is decentralized in nature where the weaver operates from his house. The strength of the community in the village supporting in pre-loom has dwindled and the weaver family has become nuclear. The markets have moved away and the immediate markets became weak. In the face of all these adversities the industry survives though in reduced numbers.

Weaving has always been a community activity located in a specific group / caste in each geographical area. Handloom production is mostly carried out in the village. The loom is located in the weaver’s home. The weaver almost always operates with the help of his family. Traditionally, pre-loom activities like dyeing & warping were outsourced and sizing, attaching the warp, weft winding & weaving activities were carried out by the weaver. This has changed over the years due to the breakage in traditional linkages; pre-loom activities like sizing are now also being outsourced. 

Handloom industry

We have 44 lakh families engaged in hand weaving in the country according to the 2010 handloom census. Andhra Pradesh is home to 3,59,212 weaver families and more than half of them work through primary handloom co-operative societies. Many weavers move between master weaver and the co-operative to optimize wages.  

Primary Handloom Weavers’ Co-operative (PHWCS)

A co-operative includes weavers located within a specific geography as members and is committed to provide production work to the members. Co-operative acts as the aggregation point for procuring yarn, chemical dyes and any other inputs required for production. The end product is sold in the immediate market, to APCO and to whole sale trader. A co-operative has to also ensure fair wages to the weaver member and act as a conduit for the various welfare measures initiated by the State on behalf of the weaver. 

Master weaver

This is a traditional system where the master weaver cum trader provides work for weavers in the village.  He also provides raw material, designs and looms for the migrant weavers. The finished products are aggregated for sale by the master weaver. He often advances loans for the weavers in times of need. Weavers may choose to work with the master weaver for lesser wages due to this facility of easy loans.

Handloom weaving provides a viable income for weavers in the village. When the weaver makes enough wage through consistent work, the weaver has a choice not to migrate out of his profession and village. Handloom weaving also uses the existing skill base, which is acquired by the weavers through their family. Handloom production is one of the oldest traditional production processes, which exists even today.