Handloom Weavers of Kuthampully

Jul 01, 2015 | Vol. 7, Issue 4
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Surviving Traditions of River Nila- 5

There are many folk communities, traditional artists and artisans who have been living on the shores on River Nila (Bharathapuzha) since centuries. Kuthampully is one of the popular weavers' villages in Kerala (India), situated on the banks of River Nila. While you walk around here, you can hear the rhythmic beat of looms emanating from the small vernacular homes.

Kuthampully is one of the popular weavers' villages in Kerala (India), situated on the banks of River Nila. One can access the village by road from Thiruvilwamala in Thrissur district. As you approach the village, you are welcomed by name boards of textile shops and companies. The bank of Bharathapuzha (River Nila) is the last stop for the local bus traversing between Thiruvilwamala and Kuthampully, where a twin temple is situated. The deity here is 'Soudeswari' and is the community Goddess of the village. This must have been the centre point of the weavers' village in the bygone era. While you walk around here, you can hear the rhythmic beat of looms emanating from the small vernacular homes. Many of these homes are now converted into comparatively big modern buildings.

According to history, a few centuries back communities of weavers called 'Devanga' were brought here by the Raja of erstwhile Kochi state. In due course of time the weaving industry flourished  producing different products like Saree (6m long cloth) for women, Mundu (2m long) for men and Set Mundu (two piece Saree) etc. No bleaching or dyeing is involved in the process except for the dyed yarn used in the weft for the border or cross-border. During 1990s, with the use of Hal-fine Zari in the border or cross border, it has got a unique style. These traditional costumes in ivory color with golden borders (Locally called Kasavu Saree and Kasavu Mundu) became more popular as it's a mark of divinity and prestige for Keralites, especially among  Hindus.

Weavers' Street and Homes

Near the temple we can see the small and neat home of Selvarajan and family, where he has been weaving for the last 30 years.  He uses a frame loom. His father C R K Natarajan with his wife stays in the adjacent home and he uses a pit loom for weaving. For a weaver, the loom is also a part of their family and all the family members give utmost care and respect to it. Some supportive works like winding the yarn onto bobbins etc are done by the women in the family.  Almost all weavers in Kuthampully now weave Kasavu Saree and Kasavu Mundu, which has become a geographically identified product.

There are many small pathways leading away from the main road. If we just walk along any of these pathways, we can see the typical residential area of this community with traditional houses lining both sides of the road. Everyone here is engaged in weaving from morning to evening. The long area in front of their homes is commonly used by the weaver for warping the yarn. This is usually done in the early morning (6am-8am), when the climate is calm and cool.

Chandrasekharan who has been a  weaver for the last 45 years is of the  opinion that even though the products have good demand in the market, youngsters are not  interested in this activity as it requires more manpower and income is comparatively less.

All these men work for Kuthampully Handloom Industrial Cooperative Society, a cooperative movement supported by the Govt. of Kerala. At the same time you can also see a number of private textile shops and companies who do the weaving by employing weavers under small entrepreneurs.

Kuthampully Handloom Industrial Cooperative Society

This society was established in 1972 with an aim to provide decent income to the weavers and to centralize the efforts for promoting and sale the Kuthampully products.  The raw materials are supplied to the weavers by the society and wages will be given based on production. The cotton yarn and the imitation Jeri (half fine Jeri) are sourced from outside Kerala. Mr. Saravanan, who has been part of the society for the last twenty five years is the present Secretary of the Society and has been holding this post for the last five years.

According to him at present there are about 160 weavers under the society as against nearly 500 during 1990s. And in the village, the other private units put together had nearly 2500 weavers during 1990s, which has now come down to less than 1000.

The society is managed by a seven-member elected body. In September 2011, the Kuthampully Sarees got exclusive Intellectual Property rights through Geographical Indication Act. Since the early half of the last decade, designer items are produced. They use Government of India handloom hallmark that ensures that the products are genuine handloom. The price range of the products Mundu and Saree are from Rs.500 to Rs.3500/- and are available at the retail show room which functions in the society building.

Location /Access: Kuthampully Village is 4km from Thiruvilwamala in Thrissur District. From Thrissur- Thiruvilwamala is 46km and from Palakkad to Thruvilwamala is about 35km. Nearest main railway station Ottappalam is about 16km from Kuthampully. 


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Are u by imitation jari

hi, can i get the reporters email id. i wnt to knw more about this place and story

Hello.. you may Call M:+91 9446280603 oR email welcomekeralamagazine@gmail.com

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