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Story of A’chik Weaving

The first thing that catches our eye in the weaver’s home is the wooden loom in the courtyard veranda. Weaving or Bara Dokka, as A’chik or Garos call it, is a traditional handicraft skill passed down from one generation to another. Men too have been known to learn weaving. Some do it as a hobby but most weavers see weaving as a source of income. Woven on these looms are gamcha (cotton towels), daksare and dakmanda (wraparound skirts), shawls, chunni (traditional stoles) and jhola (bag) fabric.

Daksare or Gana are simple wraparounds that can be plain or mix-and-match stripes, bands and blocking. Rural women wear them in their daily lives, for doing their chores, and at informal social gatherings. Daksare are woven in cotton or acrylic thread. Cotton daksare are challenging. Even though they wear on the body like a dream, a weaver finds them extremely difficult to weave. Cotton threads are weaker, so they tend to stick or break while handling and weaving. Acrylic is preferred for ease. Rural women prefer wearing acrylic because the threads are stronger and the colours do not fade. After purchasing the threads, an artisan can take up to two days to sort them. Another two days go into setting the warp on the loom. It takes four dedicated days to finally get ready to weave. One daksare can be completed in a day.

Dakmanda is the traditional wraparound worn on formal occasions like mass, weddings or at official engagements. They are colourful, lustrous and feature bold and elaborate floral patterns. Dakmanda are woven only in Acrylic. Cotton thread is not feasible. A dakmanda with large flower patterns can take as long as two weeks.

Weaving is a slowly dying art. Handloom weaving is a slow process. Weaving no longer pays enough to cover living expenses. Youngsters  migrate to cities in search of education and work. Faster and cheaper copies made by power looms are threatening its worth and existence. Bumbum wants to do its bit to preserve the craft as well as promote the use of cotton.

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