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Implementing Agency

Thiruvanthapuram Handloom Cluster
Kerala State Handloom Development
Corporation Ltd.
(Hanveev) Kannur, Kerala

 

About Cluster :

It was during the regime of His Highness Maharaja Balaramavarma, which dates back from 1798 to 1810 that the handloom weaving was first introduced at Balaramapuram. The Maharaja and his Delava (Chief Minister), Ummini Thampi jointly decided to convert Balaramapuram and its surrounding places in to an agro-based industrial belt with various traditional industries by the development of paddy and coconut cultivation, fishing, weaving, oil extraction, etc. Separate streets with cluster approach were organised at identified places having comparatively better infrastructure for development. Market places were opened at convenient locations to make the marketing of products easier. The vision of the great Maharaja and his Delava can be compared well with the latest programmes of development in Industrial sector. Thanks to the earnest and sincere efforts made by His Highness Maharaja Balaramapuram by whose name the place, Balaramapuram and the handloom weaving are presently known, has become world famous. The Delava of Maharaja brought seven weaver families (Syaliars) from Tamilnadu and made them to settle at Balaramapuram in a separate location now called "Syaliar Street".

The weavers used primitive type throw-shuttle pitlooms for the production of exclusive cotton fabrics with pure zeri. They did not use any type of improved appliances such as Dobby, Jacquard, Jala, etc. for the production of designs for cloth with extra warp and extra weft. The weavers used a unique technique by which each and was separately controlled by hand to interlace with the weft wound in small pirns. Butta and larger type extra weft designs were woven on the motif/pattern printed with wooden block using easily washable vegetable colours. This type of unique weaving of finer count cotton fabrics with 100 percent pure zeri rapidly and extensively spread out in the district. Identical appearance of designs, including warp and weft stripes on the face and backside of the fabric is obtained by this technique of weaving. No change has so far been taken place in the type of loom or technology of weaving in producing such varieties. The variety known as "Pudava and Kavani" (veshti and upper cloth with pure zeri) still remains as a prestigious bridal gift in the marriages. The designs with zeri or coloured yarn, using the age-old technique still has unparallel appeal which can attract even the most sophisticated customers. The identical appearance of the design on the face and backside of the fabric makes it unique and exclusive. This technique of laced weaving is practiced only at Balaramapuram and its surrounding places. 'Balaramapuram' became the synonym for the above type of handloom fabrics.

Till, the varieties of Balaramapuram had excellent market potential and the weavers thereon were getting reasonable income for maintaining better standard of living. Nearly 5100 looms were engaged in the production of such fabrics. No attempt was made to exploit the skill of such weavers, who are master craftsmen in their trade, to produce any other variety for expanding market demand.