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Indian Weavers

  • Weavers specialised in weaving.

  • They passed their skills from one generation to the next.

  • Some of the weaver’s community in India were …

  • The tanti weavers of Bengal

  • The julahas or momin weavers of north India,

  • Sale and kaikollar and devangs of south India

The Art of Weaving

  • Cotton was first spun into yarn. This was called spinning and was done by women. The charkha and the takli were household spinning instruments. The thread was spun on the charkha and rolled on the takli.


A Chakra

  • When the spinning was over the thread was woven into cloth by the weaver. Weaving was mostly done by men.

Indian Weaver

  • For coloured textiles, the thread was dyed by the dyer, known as rangrez.

  • For printed cloth the weavers needed the help of specialist block printers known as chhipigars.


Block Printers


Handloom industry provided livelihood for millions of Indians.

The decline of Indian textiles

The development of cotton industries in Britain affected textile producers in India in several ways.

  • Indian textiles now had to compete with British textiles in the European and American markets.

  • Exporting textiles to England became increasingly difficult as very high duties were imposed on Indian textiles imported into Britain.

  • In the beginning of the nineteenth century, English-made cotton textiles were preferred to Indian goods. Indian textiles lost their market in Africa, America and Europe.

  • Thousands of weavers in India did not have any work. Bengal weavers were the worst hit.

  • English and European companies stopped buying Indian goods.

  • During the 1830s British cotton cloth flooded Indian markets. In the 1880s two-thirds of all the cotton clothes worn by Indians were made of cloth produced in Britain.

  • This affected the entire textile industry in India. Thousands of rural women lost their lobs.

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