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Warp and weft in banana fibre

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FINESSE OF A TRADITIONAL CRAFT: Anakaputhur weavers making fabric from banana fibre. Photo: K. Manikandan
FINESSE OF A TRADITIONAL CRAFT: Anakaputhur weavers making fabric from banana fibre. Photo: K. Manikandan

K. Manikandan

Anakaputhur craftsmen use `vazhai naaru' for latest creations

TAMBARAM: After other natural fibres, it's now the turn of the banana fibre. A group of weavers in Anakaputhur, a southern suburb, have been weaving attractive pieces of cloth from the humble `vazhai naaru' (banana fibre).

Anakaputhur was once an important handloom centre, known for its Madras handkerchiefs. Over the years the vocation fell upon hard days and is now restricted to a few families. Some of them own pit looms to weave dress materials from natural fibres, with some government support.

Self help groups and members of Anakaputhur Jute Weavers Association are these days busy trying to meet the deadline for bulk orders placed by Central government agencies and private firms.

According to C. Sekar, president of the association, dresses woven out of natural fibres were in great demand inside and outside India.

Raw fibre is purchased in bulk from growers in Kunrathur area and the Koyambedu wholesale market. The fibres are cleaned in a simple bleaching process and the fat content removed. After a very delicate process of removing single strands of the fibre, they are woven into fabrics like any other material, Mr. Sekar said. As it had an affinity for colours, attractive designs could be woven, he said.

Self-help groups could be trained and encouraged to take up weaving of natural fibre such as jute and banana, which was quite profitable. C. Durairaj, branch manager of Indian Bank at Anakaputhur, said they had extended assistance to about 100 self-help groups in the area, which included nearly a dozen groups involved in weaving jute and banana fibre.

The bank was satisfied with the re-payment capacity of the groups and had recently given about Rs. 1 lakh as assistance to them, Mr. Durairaj added. The money would be used to buy fibre and other materials, and the finished goods would be sold at exhibitions organised by Central and State agencies promoting handlooms, as well as to select private firms.

"There is plenty of scope for weavers to make sufficient money if they take up weaving of natural fibre with help and encouragement from the government," Mr. Sekar, said.

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