Picture an ideal and pristine hamlet located in the lap of nature, untouched by modernization and the bustle that it brings and you would be picturing Koyalgudam. A beautiful village located in the Pochampally district, 60 km from Telangana’s capital Hyderabad, Koyalgudam is a textile connoisseur’s paradise. Here almost every home houses a loom, so calling it a weaving village would be apt.
Koyalgudam is one of the principle manufacturers of intricate ikat pattern fabric. Notably, double ikat is spun here and requires a highly skilled weaver to balance both the warp and weft resist. Due to the high level of skill and precision involved in weaving double ikat, India is one of the few countries successfully making it, with Koyalgudam being a key contributor. Villages like Pochampally, Koyalgudam and many more in Telangana still have over 5000 looms in total dedicated to Pochampally ikat fabric production.
In Koyalgudam, weaving is a way of life where each member of the family contributes. If the husband is handling the pit loom, the wife marks the designs on the warp thread. The elder members help by counting the threads while the kids are in charge of all the errands.
The gorgeous weave fast became a favorite all around the country and has become a hot selling item overseas as well. As everywhere else however, modernization and mechanization brought progress at the cost of small-scale indigenous weaves. Industrialization brought power looms that were able to manufacture large quantities of fabric at low cost, in order to meet the increasing demand that rose thanks to the popularity of the fabric. The quaint village weavers posed no match to the enormous turnover that the machines could generate. The traditional manual weaving methods are much more time-consuming. Since they could not compete with the pace of production, these weavers at the base level suffered a lot.
The weaving communities however did not give in to these pressures and devised a way to rise up again. They got together and took steps to salvage their ailing trade. Their main challenge was marketing. A Handloom Cooperation Society was founded in every weaving village. It is given support throughout the state and acts as a marketplace for the local weavers. It provides the household weavers with the necessary raw materials at a discounted rate, pays upfront and collects the finished product from them in bulk quantities. This greatly benefits the local industry as the income is generated in a quick and transparent way that encourages the weavers to continue their craft without money constraints. The handloom societies tap into market requirements and create a bridge between the demand and supply of the fabric.
Koyalgudam ikat received intellectual property rights protection (or GI status) in 2005 and since then Pochampally ikat has been the registered property of the Pochampally Handloom Weavers Association and the Pochampally Handlooms Tie and Dye Silk Saree Manufacturing Association.
Ikat has garnered fame worldwide which leads to greater demand and hence better incentives for the weavers to continue with the glorious tradition that has seamlessly integrated into their lives. It is truly a heartwarming fact that small groups of weavers are doing their best to ensure that the traditional art of ikat lives through them for many generations ahead.