BIRBHUM, West Bengal


Khesh weaving originated in Birbhum, West Bengal. It is a sustainable practice where old saree scraps or discraded sarees are used create woven products. According to Birbhum’s traditional weavers who learned the craft from their fathers, Khesh was first practiced in Shilpa Sadan in the early 1920s. Rabindranath Tagore established this vocational training facility at Sriniketan to empower women and give a market to the local community.

The craftspeople's endeavour to use environmentally friendly methods is called Khesh. For weaving, new yarn is used to prepare warp and old sarees are torn in lengthwise direction to form strips of fabric to be used as weft. Thinner strips lead to better beating up process while weaving, hence, giving a finer Khesh. Weavers may source sarees from Amodpur market, already torn strips from suppliers, and from homeowners in exchange for a fee.

Female members of the weaver’s family do the labour intensive ripping procedure. To speed up the procedure, certain shortcuts have been discovered. First, the saree is split into five to six divisions lenthwise. These divisions are split further into thin strips by pulling and tearing the incisions in opposite directions. A saree produces 75 to 80 strips. . It takes up to 3.5 pieces of fabric (saree or dhotis) to make a ‘piece’ of Khesh fabric which is about 2 meters.



Discarded sarees are collected and torn into strips to be used a weft.


Warping is done and the loom is set up.


Weaving is done where the torn strips form weft and the new yarn forms warp.