Handloom saree- Nikhila Vimal

Handlooms: The distinct identity of Kerala’s clothing tradition

When someone thinks of Malayalees, the very first image that springs to mind is of a woman wearing a Kerala Kasavu saree and a man wearing a Kasavu dhoti. This demonstrates how distinctive and expressive Kerala’s clothing tradition is.

Handicrafts, coir weaving, ivory works, and handloom weaving are a few examples of crafts that are closely related to Kerala’s cultural heritage. In addition to serving as a symbol of tradition, Kerala’s handloom sector is crucial to the state’s economy and employment generation.

People all over the world laud Kerala handlooms for their excellent structure and texture. The fabrics tend to maintain great quality with their fineness, thread count, and natural colors.

Balaramapuram, Kuthampully, Chendamangalam, and Kasaragod are the four main locations for weaving Kerala traditional handlooms. If you examine both the fabric and the techniques used, you can see noticeable differences between them. Geographical indicator (GI) tags have been given to these textile designs to emphasize their exclusivity within the Indian handloom industry.

Balaramapuram textiles

Reputed as one of the greatest hand-looming regions in Kerala, Balaramapuram (Thiruvananthapuram) is best known for the production of traditional Kasavu mundu (white cotton dhotis) and Settu Mundu (or Mundum Neriyathum). Traditional Balaramapuram textiles are normally woven from natural cotton yarn and feature a gold zari border and a simple zari stripe at the end. The patterns have recently been subjected to experiments, such as weaving the same patterns using colored thread in between.
These textiles are perfect for Kerala’s hot and humid climate because of the lightweight and coarse texture of the cotton fabric.

Chendamangalam textiles

Chendamangalam is a small village in the Eranakulam district of Kerala. The handloom designs made here are close to the Balaramapuram designs. Pure cotton yarn is used to weave the fabrics but the Zari border design is less used. Instead, prominent borders are woven with colored threads. Textiles from Chendamangalam are woven on frame looms and have a little thicker texture than comparable textiles from Balaramapuram.

Kuthampully textiles

Kuthampully has a lot to give Kerala’s clothing culture being the primary handloom region of Thrissur, the cultural capital of the state. The Kuthampully patterns play a significant part in popularising Kerala’s traditional handlooms because they are more well-known outside of the state. This is primarily due to the reasonable prices of the clothing produced here. The undyed cotton yarns are woven with half-fine zari threads, which is primarily responsible for their affordability.

Kasargod textiles

Kasargod sarees are a significant exception to the idea that Kerala sarees are made of natural cotton and embellished with Kasavu. Instead of the usual pattern, a variety of colors are preferred and there is no zari decoration in the handloom design of this region. The design aesthetic remains rather simple, which is consistent with Kerala’s relatively modest tastes. Vat dyes are commonly used for Kasaragod sarees.

In Kerala, there are a few other handloom hubs in addition to these locations for traditional textiles. Most of the designs woven in Kerala are traditional varieties of Mundus and sarees, with slight variations from the types woven at Balaramapuram, Chendamangalam, and Kuthampully. There are even a few locations where sarees with Ikat patterns are woven.

The majority of looms are found in rural areas. In practically every hamlet in Kerala, you can hear the rhythm of hand-looming. In these places, weaving is a way of life for both men and women. In an effort to support the weavers of Kerala, Byhand is committed to promoting traditional handloom sarees. You can shop for a gorgeous collection of genuine and unique Kerala handlooms at our store or visit www.byhand.in.

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