Updated: Nov 21, 2017
We arrived first in Guwahati, in the lush green region of Assam, north eastern India and from there we travelled one hour to the village of Jharobari.
No flash showrooms here with hundreds of products to choose from... we were in for a treat with this sourcing experience.
The surroundings made it feel as if we were much further away from civilisation than we actually were. A tranquil feeling came over us, as we walked through the dirt roads and narrow pathways that surrounded the homes. Tall trees, luscious vegetation and roaming farm animals characterised the neat, clean place we were now immersed in.
The area was quiet and peaceful, with only the cries of baby goats in the distance, the murmur of families talking and the rhythmic sounds of the looms working nearby.
What a beautiful place it was!
We were greeted by village elder Mr Das, a softly spoken man who has worked tirelessly to find ways to market the beautiful products made in this part of the world.
The region of Assam is well known for weaving with natural fibres such as silk. It comes naturally to women in this part of the world, as they have seen from a very tender age how their mothers would weave beautiful fabrics to make their own clothing. Every home has a loom under their verandah and this tradition has existed for hundreds of years.
Through his efforts, Mr Das managed to revive the local economy of his village. He had felt a sense of urgency for some time as he could see that people were moving away in search of more sustainable, income producing work. The young adults - who are now more educated than their parents - also planned to leave the village in search of financial independence.
It’s incredible to understand that the weaving never stops. There is always work in progress on a loom and the women are able to sit and weave for a few hours here and there around their other responsibilities. Nobody owns a weave and anybody in the family can sit at the loom and continue the work.
Walking around the village, meeting the women at their looms and watching them create the magnificent textiles was breath taking. I was so excited to see their skills at work at the homemade looms - yes, homemade. No fancy needles, manufactured parts or anything you would find in a modern sewing kit. Here, the looms are made with natural materials found in their local habitat. Levers, pedals and pulleys that only they would know how to operate are constructed from bamboo, wood and string. The workings are so intricate, I bet these women could assemble any IKEA project with ease!
What surprised me even more about their process is that weaving is only one part of it. They also master rearing the silk worms, harvesting the cocoons, processing the silk and turning it into the finest of thread. To top it all off, they source local roots, fruits and vegetables to dye the natural silk into the most amazing and fashionable colours as well!
Mr Das’ hard work has paid off. The village now commercialises beautiful Mulberry, Muga and Eri silk textiles, providing sustainable employment for those in his village. Finders and Makers is proud to source a number of products from this village.
We have had some challenges along the way, such as navigating product inconsistencies, which could then only be communicated via WhatsApp. We even had to wait patiently for the rainy season to be over as the dyeing process would take ages to dry. But, like with any new relationship, we are respectfully learning how to best work together. The product is beautifully meaningful to me now; I know the faces who have made every beautiful scarf, and like I always say, nothing worth having is easy.
Watch the video to get a glimpse of the experience.
Now you’ve seen the Makers, help me show them the users of their beautiful products.
When you become a proud owner of one of their hand-loomed treasures, send us a picture and we will make sure they see how their products are being used and how much they are loved.
Until next time,