It was Mahatma Gandhi who unerringly picked on the spinning wheel as a concrete example for the nationalist movement of the 20th century. He was the symbol from the grass root level that represented means of livelihood for the people and a potent weapon against the British power.
However, the loom is one of the oldest symbols of our civilisation, used by men and women. Since it is so old, we tend to forget that it is also a machine. But these machines like the others have to heavily depend upon human skills. Hence the relationship between a weaver, his loom and the woven cloth is special. Perhaps, rooted in the ancient perception of the very universe as fabric upon which life unfolds like a painting.
Weavers from east to west and north to south use different kinds of looms to complete the weaving needs. The simple loin or backstrap loom that literally supports the weavers. The fly loom with its frame. And the pit loom where the weaver sits with his legs in a pit. The weavers use these looms to various other looms available in the market; from making clothes for the court and temple to those made for everyday use; mainly for the common people in cities or villages.
Circumstances do not matter for a weaver if his aesthetic quality is intact. Weaving, painting, dying, etc claims identity of a fabric. It is as if wrenched from the threads of life’s harmony. The joy of colours and the way the elements are designed is as if the fabric is permeated with beauty carelessly and almost unknowingly.
As they say, “Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder”, the beauty of the fabric lies in the series of stages required to prepare the yarn for the loom and to finish the fabric afterwards.
The weaving process is simple or complicated depending upon the fabric.
The warp yarn is stretched on the loom, awaiting the shuttle that will fly from side to side with the weft, which will be carefully tamped into place. There can also be two weavers patiently sitting at the loom, with their patterns on paper placed under the warp, with cut threads precisely positioned ready to be locked into place with bamboo stick and a sley so that the pattern slowly forma an extra weft is worked on.