Hand woven fabric and clothes are impressive. The amount of time, skill, and attention to detail it takes is awe-inspiring. In Nepal, it is a trade that is learned over the course of years. It involves harvesting natural fibers, dyeing, and spinning the threads into yarn, and finally weaving. This knowledge is passed down in intimate lessons from elders to young students through generations.
Nepal’s history in the textile industry dates to around 3,000 BCE. As the industry developed, people learned how to spin and dye yarn, and weave detailed and intricate patterns, like dhaka. This trade predates the Silk Road by over 2000 years.
Nepal’s deep history and expertise in creating intricate hand woven textiles makes the artisans from Manushi fair trade group a perfect partner to create the collection. The intricate hand-woven fabrics with block printed dinosaur patterns combine ancient inspiration with longstanding traditional techniques. Unlike gifts that are mass-produced, you will often find unique differences in each handmade item, which really makes the product and the purchase very special. The very nature of handcrafting means each item is distinct. A one off made just for you.
WOVENS DESIGNED TO WOW
Weaving is primarily the interlacing of two sets of yarn – the warp (length) and the weft (width). The equipment that facilitates this interlacing is the loom. A ‘handloom’ is a loom that is used to weave cloth without the use of any electricity.
Many of the items in the Jurassic World x Accompany collection are made on a frame loom like the one here. Blankets are woven on the loom before a pattern is applied using the screen printing process. Ink is pushed through a fine mess frame to create the dinosaur-inspired patterns - each step of the process is done by hand.
Hand weavers turn fibers into yarn using a spindle or a spinning wheel as seen here. Working without a spinning wheel is a slow and arduous process. The actual wheel part of a spinning wheel does not take the place of the spindle, instead it automates the twisting process, allowing one to "twist" the thread without having to constantly do so manually. The size of the wheel lets one more finely control the amount of twist.
To weave, the threads are stretched in a horizontal direction and separated into two or more parts. A width-ways thread (weft) is then drawn through, inserted over-and-under the warp threads. A shuttle is a wooden instrument, which is used to carry the weft yarn for weaving the fabric. The warp threads can then be reversed and a weft thread passed through again. By repeating this process, fabric is woven creating a strong and tightly bound cloth that allows a remarkable variety of beautifully inlaid designs.
AN ECONOMIC TAPESTRY
Supporting marginalized artisans ensures their looms don’t fall silent. The skills necessary to create these wonderful objects and artifacts are kept alive, preserved and passed down to the next generation. Maintaining a thread through Nepal’s cultural history is important.
“Art and crafts save our tradition and the heritage of Nepal, which we are so proud to talk about.”
A leading figure in Nepal’s handcraft sector is Padmasana Shakya, President of Manushi and fierce advocate for fair trade in the region. Padma has seen first hand how these traditional skills have enabled marginalized, mostly female, producers change their circumstances.
“Our in-house artisans are 100% female. Outside of our premises, we have 1500 artisans bound with us. Not being able to be self-sufficient, women have been oppressed and exploited. These traditional arts and crafts have been able to change that. It has given a recognition to the women.”
It’s often the simplest solution that is the most impactful. For many Nepalese, the skills their parents and grandparents taught them are the key to a more secure future for their own children.
“If they can earn decent money, support poorer community and generate employment and income from there, then slowly the effects poverty will start to alleviate.“
Explore beautiful hand-woven textiles: