Durries are often found in Indian interior spaces as a furnishing. Made with attention to detail, these handwoven fabrics are true marvels of art produced by skilled craftspeople. These kind of skills are passed down through generations and encompass stories of community spirit and family. Durries are the Indian equivalent of a carpet and can be of various proportions and shapes all depending upon the area where it’s being produced. Jawaja Durries are one such kind that deserve the spotlight. The Jawaja Durrie is unlike any other carpet, have stronger and thicker yarns, and are dyed in the beautiful and most beloved Rajasthani dyes. Based in Beawar, in Ajmer, Rajasthan, the Jawaja Durrie is one such gem from the desert land of Rajasthan.
Ever since the start of 2010, the traditional Indian textile industry started facing one or the other complications, due to globalization and incorporation of several technological and industrial advancements. The economic standing of the industry took a large hit, putting most crafts and their artisans in space of financial instability.
THE JAWAJA WEAVERS AND THEIR STORY
When the Jawaja project was started, the condition of the weaver community was very different from now, they faced fierce caste system and bias from the community. The weavers were allowed to live only at the edge of the village, neither were they allowed to use the village well, putting them in a position of constant challenges. Although these hurdles soon started to dissolve in the year 1976 when the weaver alliance was formed, which has been nothing but a fruitful for the artisans of Beawar. Allowing the bias to slowly fade away and help weavers achieve a greater control over their craftsmanship not just as weavers but also as entrepreneurs.
THE CRAFT AND IT’S DETAILS
Various yarn materials such as cotton, wool, and jute, are used to make a quintessential Jawaja Durrie. The Jawaja weavers use both hand spun and mill spun yarn based on counts and finish of the durrie. A craft that grows out of one’s homes not only brings tradition but also sustainability as the mills do not consume any electricity. The bobbins are handspun by the artisans to their liking, while some even weave an entire 4’x6’ carpet by hand taking up multiple days of continuous work. Weaving the durrie on a mill can sometimes take up to 2 days as well.
Wool carpets are used in the bitter winters, whereas the cotton is used for the humid areas, yet the similarity between all of them is the distinctive striped and geometric pattern. The stunning dyes of Rajasthan, resembling the odhnis and turbans continue to influence the craft, right from glowing oranges to breezy blues, the durries come in a variety of colours adding to the interiors of any space they are used in. A major distinctive touch to Rajasthani crafts are the peculiar colour palette to its region. Similarly the durries are dyed in numerous ways mostly depending on the yarn used. Dyeing can be a time consuming process, including multiple stages and steps, all done by hand and practice, something that allows the craft to stand out further more.
THE INDUSTRY NOW
Almost 45 years since the program was initiated, the Jawaja Weavers have not only stood through the test of time but also improvised and changed drastically. The diminishing number of artisans has been a huge obstacle in the growth of this craft like many others in the new realities of the world, yet the industry stands tall, adopting technology and other means for a steady growth. With the prevalence of fast fashion and the textile industry being geared towards instant consumption, traditional handicrafts made by artisans such as the weavers of Jawaja take time to produce. Although, much like any other handicraft industry in India, the weavers of Beawar also find themselves in the dwindling future, with youngsters leaving the craft for other more lucrative occupations. Although this does not stop the weavers who believe in their craft and lineage, with the help of technology, the weavers now send their handwoven creations to decorate homes all over the world. Being appreciated for not just showing the textures of the yarn but also the hard work and quality that goes into it. With the rise of sustainable fashion within people and people actually caring about genuinity of their products, there has been some ray of hope for the weavers of Jawaja, giving them an opportunity to share and showcase their work all around the group.