Handicraft

HISTORICAL EVOLUTION OF HANDLOOM WEAVING

Handloom weaving is the outstanding, wide – spread small Industry, providing employment to largest number of people in the District.The growth of weaving activity in the District is ascribed to the advent of the “Bhulia Meher” community in around 1765 AD from Sonepur. Bhulia Mehers are said to have been original inhabitants of Rajasthan and Delhi from where they moved to Dhamantari and Dhansa villages of Raipur District of Chhattisgarh. Later on, they were brought to Patnagarh of Bolangir District after the first Chauhan King Ramai Deb ascended the throne of Bolangir Patnagarh. It is presumed that the original Bhulia Meher community, after setting down in the region, intermingled with the other castes too and soon the kosta Mehers (who are usually tussar weavers) and Kuli Mehers (who are the least skilled labour class) came into existence. The District predominantly consists of the Bhulia and Kosta Meher and the Ganda weavers. Kosta and Bhulia castes figure around 30% and 50% respectively each, whereas Harijan/Kuli castes account for 20% only of the total population of weavers in the District.

SILK WEAVING :-

Tusser silk weaving was for many years a principal industry of the Sambalpur District of which Bargarh was a part. Dr. Short who visited Sambalpur in 1855 found that tusser silk was manufactured to a great extent, the fabrics being used locally and also exported.  Five large villages or towns were occupied in weaving tusser, and in each, at the very lowest computation, 1,000 tans or pieces were produced annually. The culture of the tusser silkworm was carried on in almost every jungle village and at least 7.5million cocoons were produced. Only one-third of the cloth remained in the District the rest being exported to Cuttack and Berhampur , and also to Raipur and Bilaspur; and it is clear that the industry was then in a flourishing condition. Again in 1876 it was reported that Sambalpur(including Bargarh) was more advanced than other Districts of the Central Province (now Madhya Pradesh) both in the quality of the cocoons exported and in the workmanship of the cloth produced by its weavers. The export of manufactured tusser had apparently fallen off, but half of the cocoons produced were sent out to Ganjam, Cuttack, Raipur& Bilaspur.

Since that time the industry declined still further, the local supply of tusser cocoons having decreased in quantity, degenerated in quality, and raised in price. The closer conservation of Government forest, the clearing of village forests which were most convenient to the rearers, unfavorable seasons, and lack of care and capital on the part of the breeders are all said to have contributed to this result.  The rearing of tusser worms differs widely.  The ordinary silk worm, is a domesticated insect, where as the tusser worm thrives best when in the jungle. Not being able to have access to forests, the rearers are not able to renew their stock of cocoons from wild seed. Consequently, decline sets in. Diseases such as grasserie have become common and the cocoons do not contain as much silk as they did formerly. Even as long ago as 1892, the rearing of the tusser worm in Government and malguzari forests had practically ceased. It was then reported that the cocoon rearers had migrated to the Feudatory States, where although taxed, they were at least given strips of forest, and that the weavers drew their supplies of cocoons only from those States and from the Zamindaris. This was exactly the state of affairs which then existed, except that the weavers had to go further afield for their supply, and obtain most of the cocoons from Singhbhum and Baudh State.

The rearing of the tusser worm (locally called Kosa) was carried on by Gandas, chiefly on the Sahaj tree (Terminalia tomentosa). Spinning and weaving were a monopoly of the Koshtas, the centers of the industry being Sambalpur, Remunda and Barpali. The industry was carried on almost entirely with cocoons imported from outside the District. The rearing of tusser cocoons is almost extinct as an industry in this District. The Koshtas were extremely conservative in their methods and the silk industry of the District suffered setbacks owing to the necessity of importing cocoons and the failure of the weavers to adopt more up-to-date methods At.Present only   35 no. of looms are working on silk and 28 no. of looms are working on tusser yarn of this District.

COTTON WEAVING :-

The District is famous throughout India and even abroad for handloom fabrics. It is an indigenous industry manned mostly by Kostha and Bhulia weavers. Besides their adroit workmanship, the speciality of their products is reckoned more for the choice of colour and the design. This has earned them world-wide fame. This industry was in a flourishing condition in the past. Some fine exhibits of handloom fabrics at the British Exhibition in Wembley in 1924 and 1925 were much appreciated and orders were obtained though the department of Industries and Labour for a supply of the said type of cloth. The weavers exhibited considerable taste in colour and variety of pattern. Even the finest cloth was woven with a dainty border. The Bhulias had nothing to fear from competition with mill cloth as they made good use of their monopoly of inherited skill. The Gandas who weave a cheaper and coarser cloth went down against the onslaught of the glamour of mill cloth.

With the passage of time Sambalpuri Sarees have got national and international attention due to their texture, colour and design. Even it has been found that women of this District rarely wear mill-made sarees or handloom sarees produced in other parts of the State.

Scarcity of raw materials, want of capital and lack of marketing facilities are the greatest impediments in their progress. They manufacture generally Saree, Dhoti, Gamuchha, Bed-sheets etc. Gradually many co-operative societies are being formed to help the weavers of the District. Technical aid is also being given. During 1966-67 there were 96 weavers co-operative societies in the District consisting of 14,426 members. The total working capital was Rs. 30, 14,000. There were 12,433 looms for weaving cotton fabrics and 1,365 looms for silk weaving in the District out of which 6,447 looms and 180 looms, respectively were working during 1966-67.

Presently about 1200 no. of looms are working on cotton yarn in this District.

TYPE OF WEAVERS IN THE DISTRICT

  • Bhulia- Traditional weavers
  • Harijan, Kosta, Kuli weavers.

Handloom Industry In Bargarh District:

Bargarh District is famous for its handloom weaving just like its agriculture. The handloom weavers reside in almost all blocks of the District. But blocks like Barpali, Bargarh, Bijepur, Sohela, Bheden and Attabira are deeply populated with handloom weavers. They are famous in silk, tussur and cotton weaving. The quality and design of the products are gradually improving. The products manufactured have been changed from coarser count cotton to finer count and use of chemical dye stuff in place of natural colours has gathered momentum now.

Number of Looms: Bargarh enjoys a pride of place being the highest weaving population with the highest nos. of active looms in the State. Apart from this, weaving activities are in full swing in more than 300 villages covering all the blocks of the District. Simultaneously, there are number of high skilled weavers in the District ..A  number of National and State awardees belong to Bargarh District. The handloomvillages are  Jhiliminda, Singhpali, Lurupali, Barahguda, Baragaon, Katapali, Khuntpali, Gudesira, Barpali, Bandhapali, Bagbadi, Kushunpuri, Jalpali, Bijepur, Pada, M.Sirgida, Bairakhpali, Laumunda, Sarkanda, Jhar, Chichinda, Remunda, Jamdol, Bheden, Khairpali, Jamla, Ruchida, Hatisar, Bhatli- Kushunpuri.

As per handloom census 2010, there are 12090 nos. of looms in Bargarh District. The block wise position is as follows.
SL.No Area No. of Looms
1. Ambabhona 119
2. Attabira 703
3. Bargarh 997
4. Barpali 2131
5. Bhatli 823
6. Bheden 868
7 Bijepur 2873
8 Gaisilet 262
9 Jharbandh 81
10 Paikmal 83
11 Rajborasambar 1096
12 Sohela 2054
Total 12090

Sambalpuri Bastralaya Handloom Co-Operative Society Ltd, Bargarh-

Sambalpuri Bastralaya Handloom Co-operative Society Ltd is registered vide Registration No. 117/SM dt.22.06.1954 under Odisha Cooperative Society ACT & Rule.  Padmashree Dr. Krutartha Acharya was the founder and life time President of the societySambalpuri Bastralay is a world famous Primary Handloom Coop. Society for production of exclusive Sambalpuri Tie & Dye fabrics. Later on, following the initiative of Sri Acharya it evolves as the largest handloom cooperative society in the state as well as in the country. The society is having It’s vast net work of production  and marketing organization founded by Padmashree Dr. Krutartrha Acharya for preservation and propagation of great Odishan Handloom Crafts. The society is having 25 production branches for providing works to the weaver members and 12 sales outlets to market the products of its members throughout the District.

Strengthening Of Co-Operative Structure. –

In order to sustain the cooperative societies created in the region, the state government provided a lot of support in the form of subsidies, margin money, rebate, market development assistance and technical assistance through its Assistance Director Textiles (ADT) offices and Weaving Supervisors and Textiles Inspectors during 1980-1990. Further to provide marketing support to the increased production through the primary weaver cooperative societies, the  Apex Society of the state – “BOYANIKA” came into being during this period. ‘Sambalpuri Bastralaya’ also grew through this heightened support to become one of the largest cooperatives in the country. During this period, these institutions procured about 70- 80% of the total production of the primary societies and were able to provide regular payments leading to sustainable employment for the weaver community.

Functioning of Handloom Society-

Sambalpuri Bastralaya Handloom Coop. Societies is the biggest primary Handloom Society having highest number of weavers with highest turnover of 45 Crores in the State. It is the pride of the State in general and Bargarh District in particular. The brand name of Sambalpuri Bastralaya enjoys a great fascination among numerous customers for its exquisite colour combination mingled with beautiful texture and design. It providess employment to a sizeable mass.