With intricate designs and unique story, handloom and handcrafted mekhela chadars and sarees are epitome of creativity and craftsmanship. Handloom and handicraft ornamenting is an age old tradition and pride of India. It also relates to our freedom movement when Mahatma Gandhi discovered khadi in 1908 and was adopted as a symbol of the Indo-British battle over the looms of Manchester during the non-cooperation movement.
For a record Handloom Industry is the largest and oldest cottage Industry of our country. It is the second largest employment provider in rural India after agriculture Industry by providing direct and indirect employment to over 13 million weavers.
Unfortunately, the handloom and handcrafted garments are on the verge of extinction due to tough competition with mass and low cost production of machine made garments. Additionally, due to low demand of dearly priced hand-loom products which require a huge investment of man hours, many weavers are demotivated to continue with their crafts and move away in search of better livelihood. For example, genuine Goa Kunbi sarees and Muga silk Assamese Mekhela Chadar are almost a rare thing to be found in the market now.
Fortunately, it is very welcoming to see a lot of handloom and handicraft enthusiasts who are determined to preserve our heritage Industry. We at Asomkriti are dedicated and committed towards contributing towards the sector and we try our best to work with NGOs, self- help weaving groups and Government registered Artisans.
Here are a few simple but precious steps to identify whether the mekhela chadar you just bought is 100% handwoven, the Lucknow Chikankari is hand embroidered or machine made, the Linen Saree you bought is purely handwoven or even the handblock Sarees are handprinted or machine printed.
Look for imperfection and non-uniform patterns
Machine made sarees or mekhela chadars are extremely smooth with absolutely no sign of imperfection in it. Handwoven garments are prone to human errors and thus, small imperfections are must. There might be non-uniformity in the threads across warp and weft or a small gathering of threads here and there. To ease the process of weaving mekhela chadar, graphs are cut out to weave the motif designs of similar patterns. But in most of the cases, for unique and colorful motif designs it is always done manually resulting in uneven patterns.
Intricate and unique patterns
Look for intricate and unique designs in the motifs. Some of the handmade designs in the weave or hand embroidered are impossible to recreate with machine. Machine can recreate only design with uniform and easy patterns. Sarees and mekhela chadars made in factories cannot match the level of detailing in the handwoven ones.
Price and quality
Most importantly, pricing is a very tricky aspect for original handloom and handicraft products. To get a real sense of the hard work which needs to be put in, one pair of genuine handwoven Muga silk or paat silk Assamese Mekhela chadar or saree takes almost a month or more than a month depending on the design to be completed. On the other hand machine produces more than 30 sarees in a week. Thus, handmade products are of extremely high quality and always priced on higher side. Additionally, if the prices are lowered, unfortunately the ones who get affected are the extremely hard working weavers and artisans. For example, it is impossible to have an MRP of less than 1000 INR for a handwoven cotton mekhela chadar of simplest design since the weaver has to receive at-least 500 INR to complete the weaving of the same. Thus, including all the overhead cost and raw material cost the INR for the same should be more than ₹1000. Where else, market is flooded with fake machine made mekhela chadars or Assamese sarees sold as Handmade, ranging from ₹200 or even ₹100 in some cases.
Asomkriti is committed to providing genuine handwoven quality assured mekhela chadars. Click here to shop for genuine handwoven and authentic silk Assamese mekhela chadars.
Texture of handwoven mekhela chadar or saree is coarser compared to machine made ones.
Touch and feel the garments. There will always be a kind of coarseness in the handwoven sarees compared to the machine made. Even the soft silk sarees will be bit coarser than the machine made ones.
You can shop for other handwoven and handcrafted sarees, accessories and fashion products here.