When we talk of our commitment to revival of dying or languishing handlooms and handicrafts, we believe that change is happening, right now, right here and that it can only go up. Our confidence is based on many instances of craft revivals across India; far reaching changes brought about by the collective efforts and the initiative of different agencies like AIACA. And more importantly by the artisans themselves, who value their art and are but looking for a window of opportunity in a world fast moving to the power loom. One such success story is that of Mubarakpur, a dusty little town in the ancient handloom weaving cluster near the famous city of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, India.
Mubarakpur, a small handloom cluster close to the holy city of Varanasi, is an ancient weaving hub, known for its fine silk weaving since the 14th century. The silk woven in Mubarakpur was once known as an opulent weave with kadhua zari motifs and found praise from the famous medieval traveler Ibn Batuta, who talks about the fabric at length in his travel diaries. However, because of its close proximity to Varanasi or Benaras, the Mubarakpur weave did not have enough space to create its own brand and became synonymous with the well known 'Benarasi Silk'. The story of this beautiful weave worsened with time and came to a literal stand-still after communal riots in the early 1990s.
The weaving hub which once saw fabric buyers from places as far away as Mumbai and Chennai lining up at their doors saw them shying away owing to communal disturbances. The silence of the looms became deafening and some of the weavers decided to move to the power loom sector to make ends meet. The ones who stayed with traditional looms faced a trickle of jobs. This left the field open for middlemen from Benaras who exploited this sorry situation by offering the weavers poor quality polyester yarn and high interest loans to weave poor quality fabric, which then they would buy at very low rates.
Weavers, who, in a state of despair, decided to let go of their traditional skills and more importantly, their weaving heritage and join the power loom sector quickly found out the harsh realities of mass production units – low, and often irregular wages, and poor working conditions. A lot of government and private institutions tried to help but couldn't resolve their economic situation effectively. Then in October 2014, The All India Artisans and Craft workers Welfare Association (AIACA), intervened in a bid to revive this ancient handloom weaving hub and took studied steps to help the weavers.
With its main objective being to create a weaver's collective so that greater economic value of the end product can be transferred back to the individual weaver, AIACA, with the help of traditional weavers and artisan families, started weaving the success story that ultimately resulted in the formation of various Self Help Groups in the weaving town. By organizing the artisans to take charge of their own economic future and by providing training to young artisans that come from traditional weaving families, AIACA has helped this languishing handloom hub get back on its feet.
Facilitation of direct linkages with yarn suppliers, textile experts at the back-end and wholesalers and buyers, like Jaypore, at the front end ensure long-term sustainability of this initiative that has started to revolutionize the way handloom is characterized in India. By showcasing these beautiful Mubarakpur weaves, Jaypore not only reinforces AIACA's endeavor by getting them a step closer towards recognition, welfare and market access at a fair price but also its own commitment to reviving languishing crafts.
As an online brand dedicated to creating a unique interpretation of age-old handloom crafts, Jaypore.com travels across India curating unique and exclusive collections that represent the country’s finest craft-based designs. We present collections online by partnering with artisanal communities, textile designers, and independent artists to showcase a new contemporary design language that comes from India and is understood globally.