Introduction India is a rich country of diverse cultures and heritages. Almost all the states of India are represented by their particular cultures and traditions.
The article talks about one such state from India, which is a legend in itself for its culture, traditions and heritages, called Rajasthan.
Bikaner in Rajasthan is a city famous for its wool named on its place called Bikaneri wool. This wool is used as a cheaper substitute to New Zealand’s wool used in carpets and rugs. Bikaner as district has 926 villages under it.
Location of Nagasar
One such village in Bikaner district is Napasar. It is a weaver’s hub on a road trip of 20 Kilometers away from Bikaner city. There are private as well as government buses which connect this village to other villages around Bikaner. In earlier times, camel cart were used as transportation, but with the advent of the technology people started using cars, bikes and other transportation vehicles. The village has a railway station which connects it through trains coming from various parts of India.
People of Napasar Population As per the population of India website (2014), the total population of Napasar is 19500, out of which 10101 are males and the rest 9399 are females. Most of the population of Napasar belongs to Brahman and Baniya castes. This village is small and is divided in different mohallas like Uttaradwas, Goyalon ka Mohalla and Deshnok roads. The major percentages of weavers and spinners are residing in these sections of the village
Literacy Most of the men of the village have acquired education till middle school and there are very few of men who have done senior secondary or are doing graduation. On the other hand most of the women of older ages are completely uneducated, while there are also women of younger ages who are educated till senior secondary levels. The research revealed that the aim of acquiring education is becoming essential with the younger generation be it male or females.
Profession Napasar is a place of semi arid zone, where farming is done only for three to four months in a year. Therefore most of the people are dependent on textile industry for earning their livelihood. Khadi Gram Udyog and few other khadi institutions are providing job to spinners and weavers in the village. Most of the women of this village are hand spinners and they are either helping their family profession or are working as freelance spinners for different organizations or persons. Almost all the weavers of Napasar have agricultural land and they do farming during the season which lasts for 3 to four months in a year. Most of the family members are involved in weaving and spinning but there are few families, where younger generation has now opted professions out of the textile industry which gives them steady and continuous salaries. Almost every house in a village has a loom. So either one or more than one family member is involved in weaving at home. There are also a few other weavers who are attached with NGOs outside Napasar, or work as daily wage weavers at carpet and textile factories in Bikaner. As per an old weaver’s information there were around 500 weavers approximately in Napasar till few years back, but with the recession in the market and income getting lesser many weavers have changed their professions, while many have moved out of the village, decreasing the numbers of weavers in the present. The weavers of Napasar work in different clusters or groups.Sometimes they even work individually.
Many clusters are producing just the fabrics like solid cottons, striped cottons, extra weft cottons, woollen shawls and woollen aasans, which are later stitched to make garments for vendors like Fabindia or other fashion brands like Desert Craft, Maandana etc.
Napasar Hathkargha Vikas Samiti In this slow and poor condition of weaving profession, there is still a hope for many weavers by a cluster called as Napasar Hathkargha Vikas Samiti. This samiti is a group of weavers working together under one roof in a workshop located at Deshnok road.
The cluster workshop was started by the aid of Rangsutra, an NGO headed by Ms. Sumita Ghose based in Delhi with its branches at Banaras and Bikaner. This cluster is presently, serving to the fabric demands of Rangsutra and few other small organizations like Maandana a fashion boutique from Bikaner. The cluster is headed by Om Prakash Meghwal ji and Tulsiram ji. They are the most experienced and resourceful personalities of the cluster. Om ji is in his middle age and handles all the administrative work of the cluster. He has acquired education till senior secondary school. Along with handling all the accounts work, he also manages all the raw material sourcing, meetings
and communication on behalf of thecluster. He is also an excellent weaver by
Tulsiram ji is a proficient and sample weaver of the cluster. He guides and trains other weavers working in the cluster workshop. He along with Om ji takes care of all the production orders. His career of weaving is more than forty years, and he is among the few who remembers about the age old techniques of fabric production and its raw materials at Napasar.
Currently the cluster has 9 weavers on the list, and the number keeps increasing and decreasing depending on the amount of work with the cluster. The fabric production in the workshop is of mainly 100% cotton fabric in various densities and weights. The fabric is mainly used in apparels. There are about 7 big width looms and two small widths loom, with one sample loom created by Tulsiram ji. The cluster is developing fabrics for kurtas,
waistcoats and lowers both for males and females. There are few more younger weavers in the cluster like:
Govardhan, who is a young weaver attached with the cluster since past few years. He is trained by his forefathers to weave. He intends to carry weaving as his profession for income generation.
Ashok is the son of Tulsiram ji and is a young weaver. He has inherited the weaving craft from his father and forefathers. He also works independently as freelance weaver for other organizations along with the cluster.
Ramesh is the youngest weaver among all. He is just 19 years old and he hasn’t inherited the craft from his father or forefathers. He has learnt the craft of weaving at the cluster from Omji and Tulsiram ji. He doesn’t have loom at home, so he is completely involved with the cluster work.
Handloom fabrics of Napasar
Napasar is famous for its cotton fabrics production. The fabrics are produced on looms having 4 harnesses mostly. The yarn used is majorly 2/60s count which is sourced and dyed in Bikaner. The weavers produce solid color fabrics which have warps and wefts of same color. Along with solid color fabrics, chambray fabrics are also created. The warp of these fabrics is of one color and the weft is of another color. This gives a double color look to the fabric. Warp striped pattern fabrics using sectional warp techniques are also produced in Napasar. There is a new development in the cluster work where usage of extra warp patterning is seen. The fabrics so developed are used for various puposes.
The major problem of the cluster is its dependency on yarns which are manufactured and dyed in factories in Bikaner. However the cluster still manages to produce good quality 100% cotton fabrics for developing apparels as well as home products after stitching. Almost 95% of the products from Napasar are unstitched which includes products like stoles, shawls, chindi dhurries, single bed cotton linens and towels.
Weavers outside Napasar Hathkargha Vikas Samiti are creating woolen shawls and aasans given by Khadi Gram Udyogs or Pratisthans. This is a place where earlier double cloth fabrics were made of camel hair which were used as floor coverings. Also the double cloth technique was utilized in making large width carpets on smaller width looms. However with the elapse of time, the craft of making double cloth is lost and usage of camel hair as fibers is forgotten. Reason being that currently most of the homes at Napasar have replaced camels by transportation mediums like cars, bikes and cycles, which in turn have reduced the number of camels in the village. This has negatively affected all the crafts and products associated with the camels. The Napasar Hathkargha Vikas Samiti is trying to revive one such forgotten craft of its traditional weaving along with generating income sources for their weavers in its village. The cluster wants to give an identity to its village and its craft in local, national and international markets with quality products and designs.