Kullu – Manali weavers get down to shawl making for summer tourists

Kullu: As winters and the accompanying cold encroaches upon the valley, villagers have pulled out their handlooms to start weaving the much in demand Kullu woollens for the summer tourist next year after having spent many memorable evening by the family bonfire hand spinning the wool into yarn.

This glorious tradition of craftsmanship in the Kullu valley dates back to centuries. For the simple valley folks, spinning and weaving is the part of the rhythm of life that is in tune with nature. 

 Steeped in its unique culture and imbued with unique character, the hand weaving skills are reverently handed down from generation to generation. The artistic endeavours of Kullu reflect the legendary beauty of art and craft that catches the fancy of the discerning tourists.

The practical utility of the items created is the essential features of Kullu handicraft. In the valleys higher reaches, hill folk rear sheep and goats and weave the wool and hair in a delightful array of colour texture, designs and style.

Using natural wool and hand operated mechanical looms, the skilled hands of the villagers weave and create woollen garments, accessories and household items that epitomises the glory and sheer superiority of the region’s handicraft. Articles made from wool plays an important role in providing bread and butter to the villagers of Kullu valley.

The famous Kullu shawls are mostly woven from merino wool in bright colours with borders in brilliant geometrical designs, displaying the exquisite craftsmanship passed on from generation to generation of weaver families.

The soft delicate Pashmina shawl made from the fleece of Pashmina goat is most notable because of its high value and the warmth it provides in protecting oneself from the cold.

Apart from the shawls, pattoo and local tweeds are though rough but unbelievably warm. The extremely colourful Pattoo,s are usually worn by women as a traditional dress in the valley.

Caps, hand knitted colourful socks and pulas who’s sole is made of hemp and upper half from goat hair woven with wool in different colour combinations are also part of the traditional Kullu constumes.

Jamana Devi of Rangri village of the left Beas River bank of Manali while speaking to Hill Post disclosed that wool yarn stockpiles with her were enough to make 25 shawls this season.

Jamana further said that she had started weaving shawls at her home handloom and by May end would be able to make about 10 to 15 shawls that would be sold to tourists visiting the valley in summers.

Photo: Sanjay Dutta

Sanjay Dutta, an engineer by qualification but is a journalist by choice. He has worked for the premier new agency Press Trust of India and leading English daily Indian Express. With more than a decade of experience, he has been highlighting issues related to environment, tourism and other aspects affecting mountain ecology. Sanjay Dutta lives in a village close to Manali in Kullu valley of Himachal.

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