Different regions have different crafts and every craft captures the essence of the culture is was born it. Himachal Pradesh, the beautiful snow-clad state in the northern region of India, is famous not only for its serene landscapes and delicious apples but also it’s art and craft. The state has a diverse talent for the craft dwelling in the small towns like Kullu, a small town famous for its handloom craft. From intricately woven shawls to caps, the products of Kullu handloom have become a popular fashion choice among the people.
Origin Of Kullu Handloom
Nestled in the lap of Himalayas, Kullu’s climatic conditions necessitated the birth of handloom weaving in the valley. The weaving activity was originally practised in the Kinnaur valley but eventually passed down to Kullu as the people migrated from former to latter. Nearly every dweller in the valley is involved in this craft and has honed the skill of hand-loom weaving to preserve the ancestral custom and tradition. However, with the passage of time, this skill has taken up the likes of new age fashion and few alterations have occurred in the designs to suit the needs of the modern buyers.
Today the Kullu handloom weaving occupies the major chunk of Himachal Pradesh’s economy. With about 20,000 weavers in the in the Kullu district, most of them are regular weavers who work independently from their homes and sell their products to either independent units or to cooperative societies.
Types Of Kullu Handloom
Due to the cold climate prevalent, the weaving craft was introduced by the locals to meet their personal needs of warm clothes. Traditionally, all the products of the Kullu handloom were characterised by bright striking colourful geometrical designs and motifs. But due to the demands of the customers, minor alterations have been made in the design of the products. Bright colours have been replaced with pastel shades and geometric patterns have seen variations in design. Kullu hand-loom has a variety of products, from shawls to carpets each product embodies the unique craft of Kullu handloom. Some of the popular products are
Kullu shawls are best known for their geometrical designs. However, due to the influx of bhushehari craftsmen from Rampur district of Himachal Pradesh to the valley, the shawls have seen an introduction to woven floral designs. The design is such that it can run all over or on the borders of the shawls. The designs contain traditional bright colours, like red, yellow, magenta pink, green etc. mainly used for patterning while more neutral colours like white, black, grey and brown are used as the base in these shawls. However as stated earlier these bright colours are gradually being replaced by their pastel counterparts due to the increasing customer demands.
It is a gent’s shawl, woven in light woollen fabric and is usually plain or with a narrow border at the ends. Loi is also termed as chaddar by the local people as it is generally bigger that a normal Kullu shawl.
Locally, known as Kullu topi, this traditional headgear has derived its name from its place of origin. The Kullu topi is an important part of a local Kullvi man’s attire as is a cap in other districts too. The Kullu cap is round in shape and is flat on the top. A band of colourful border brightens the front with beautiful pattern (the band is separately woven on small looms) while back of the cap is made of local woollen yarn and sometimes is also made of cotton or any other light material.
Pattoo is the traditional dress of local women folk of district Kullu. Pattoo is worn over the clothes and is draped like a saree however the two ends of the pattoo are pinned just below the shoulders in the front with local silver brooches, locally called boomani. Pattoo is tied around the waist with a piece of cloth called gachchi (belt). Being the traditional dress of the localities, it is manufactured as well as purchased by the local community and thus woven with local wool only.
Apart from these products Kullu also has few other lesser known products, these are mainly produced for the personal use of the locals and seldom produced for sale. These products are
A type of floor covering, which is spun from goat hair. It is woven in 2 portions of half width and later joined from the centre with very complicated stitches. It is rough in texture but provides warmth. Thobi is usually plain or available in checks or bands of black and grey.
Numdha is the local name for a mattress, which is made by felting the wool rather than weaving it. It is prepared by mixing low-quality wool with a small quantity of cotton. They are usually plain or decorated with embroidered colourful designs.
Gudma is a soft but heavy blanket, which is woven especially in the Kullu valley. It is made of Byang wool having long fibres. Gudmas are woven in natural wool colours and finished with red or black trimmings and are of the same size as Numdhas.
Which of the popular Kullu crafts would you like to try on? Do let us know in the comments section.