Weaving a success story

Spinning his fortune.

Spinning his fortune.  

COME `NAVARATHRI', the handloom weavers of Chinnavalayam in Perambalur district, work overtime weaving the popular `Venkatagiri' sarees, which are widely marketed in Andhra Pradesh.

There are about 300 weavers in this village.

They have been busy for the past few days as bulk orders from the merchants of Jayamkondam have started pouring in recently in the wake of Dasara and Deepavali celebrations.

The weavers are skilled in weaving this kind of sarees. On an average, a family of weavers, including the children, can produce 24 sarees in a month.

They produce sarees of different designs — `Venkatagiri 100', `Venkatagiri-putta', `Venkatagiri-silk.' Texture and durability varies from one variety to another.

The aged weavers select simple designs while the younger ones prefer intricate designs, which require extra efforts.

Decades ago, the weavers used to get adequate patronage from the local cooperative society. But ever since it has become sick, they entered into a tie-up with the merchants of Jayamkondam.

The merchants provide raw materials since the weavers do not have the wherewithal to invest on raw materials. The weavers produce the sarees and get wages at the rate of Rs. 65 per piece.

V. Sivagurunathan, a weaver, says the art of weaving `Venkatagiri' variety has been on the wane in the recent years.

Changes in lifestyle and uncertain wages from merchants have forced the young weavers to opt for other means of livelihood.

The weavers who produce sarees are not trained in any other skill. The number of active looms in the village has dwindled from 2,500 to 500 in the last few years.

The finest variety, `Venkatagiri 100,' because of its light weight, is the much sought after product.

Saree are also woven in Sengunthapuram,Variyankaval, Elaiyur, Kallathur, Andimadam and Marudhur villages.

Apart from weaving `Venkatagiri sarees,' they are adept in making silk saris also.

The vendors and the handloom weavers have developed a mutual trust to such an extent that no new weaver can make his debut in the trade.

From Balaganessin M. in Tiruchi.

Photo: S.R. Raghunathan.

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