A photo-essay from the weaver's colony of Anekal, where the handloom aka 'Magga' continues to thrive with its timeless melody.
The rhythmic sound of the 'Magga' is the rooster’s call and the moon’s lullaby at Anekal, a weaver’s colony. About 40 kilometres from the city of Bangalore, this small town is thrived by the six yards of textile most prevalent in the country, intuitively and delicately woven by the locals. Having an ancestral history with handloom, aging men and women confidently work their coarse but nimble fingers in and out of earthy pools of colours to create sarees.
Intricate designs trace contours, as disposed of golden threads glint in the dimly lit workshop. And weavers use stencils that look like braille scripts that breathe life into trees, flowers and peacocks on the borders. The handloom workshop is a sight to behold, both for the overwhelming humility that one feels when walking into an artist’s playground, but also for the sparsely populated and dimly lit garage that does little justice to the stories being woven here.
A cause for concern, is primarily the migration to power loom over the generations, as it opened up the doors to individually owned businesses and quicker production. The handloom weavers, on the other hand, work for the Karnataka Handloom Development Corporation and have been working for the organization for almost all their lives.
Torn between the lack of technical expertise compounded by the sincere respect and love for their own craft, these weavers have remained allegiant to their practice despite the comparatively low and slow inflow of monetary remuneration. A bigger concern, however, is the recent abolishment of the All India Handloom Board by the current government in an effort to homogenize their administration over small-scale industries rooted in the arts and crafts.
The Magga, despite all this, as is tradition, continues to hum its timeless melody- sometimes a lamenting caveat, and other times a cheerful ballad.
Written by: Janani Venkateswaran