Love can weave colors- Tangaliya

The state of Gujarat boasts vibrant art, architecture, culture and heritage; and among all the states I have visited to, I somehow developed the closest relation with this place; maybe because of the sheer simplicity and amiability of Gujaratis, the vast array of handicrafts and intricate patterns of weaved textiles, and ofcourse the variety of the famous Gujarati delicacies including dhokla, fafda, khandvi, undhiyu, ganthia, khakhra and thepla (trying to remember as many I can).

The arts and crafts in Gujarat are of immense aesthetic importance and have ever since established their potency all over the world but among all these, one craft has immensely lost its value- the 700 year old indigenous weave of Gujarat- Tangaliya, geographically unique to the Surendranagar district in Ahemdabad. This textile employs an exquisite technique of weaving adopting raw wool yarn creating designs in dots for floral and geometric motif using the traditional pit looms.

There are four types of Tangaliya:- Ramraj, Charmalia, Dhunsla and Lobdi. The motifs are made up of dots or danas ranging from a single dot to elaborate arrangements of dots, which form flowers, peacocks, temples, trees and other geometric forms like circles, squares, triangles etc. The inlay of bids is very unique in the craft and that is done during the process of weaving. This very process of inlaying of bids in the woven fabric demands great deal of skill and efficiency and though the woven fabric looks like embroidery work, it is not. It is unique to the community, to the place, indigenous, age old and confined to the very craft.

Coming to this tiny village in Surendranagar, with approximately only 200 artisans actively involved with this craft and making it means to earn their livelihood, gave me an immense feeling of joy. There lies hope of upliftment. Professionally being an Indian fashion designer, I understand what unique treasures of textile variety our country holds and losing even any one of them due to limitations and narrow market reach is a sorrowful scenario.

There is an amazing story behind the flowering of Tangaliya; According to one of the weaver, it was originated by a young boy from Bhadwad community who was shunned by his family for marrying a girl from the Wankar (weaver) community. The couple made their living by weaving shawls using the wool provided by the Bhadwads. In this way a new community, the Dangasiya community, came into being, and thus came into being the Tangaliya Weaving.

Major challenges that the craft is facing is production and its social importance. With the emerging trends and the introduction of less expensive, printed textiles in the market, the communities lost interest in hand woven textiles, as a result lost their only source of income. In the present time many traditional weavers and their descendants are sustaining themselves by working as labourers in factories or on farms, while few have migrated to cities looking for better opportunities. Weavers face challenges in marketing their products due to the high price. Cloth made on power loom is cheaper compared to the hand woven thus weavers loose their potential market and have hard time explaining that each hand woven piece is unique in its own way.

The craft has attained a certain position in the market after receiving the GI certification and its social relevance changed from traditional to contemporary. You yet see the smiling faces of the artisans ready to show their amazing skills in full spirit, the beautiful cloth they have weaved, enthusiastic to get clicked with you and lovingly feeding you lunch of Rotla na Shaak (Chapatti and vegetable) off their plates.

Its very important for every individual to be aware of traditional crafts and appreciate their design aesthetics, which is the only way for further encouragement and prosperity of the community and the craft. Government organization, initiatives like ‘Amounee’ (www.amounee.com), and Indian Fashion Designers should all work in their own ways and collectively to bring the best to our artisans, to revive the dying crafts and to bring forth the colors of our country to the world.

SHIVANGI BAJPAI