The Song of the Loom
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Professor of History, Jawaharlal Nehru University
This book is a narrative from below, mediated through the author’s interaction with south Indian weaving communities for over two decades. The author stayed with weavers, participated in their cultural and religious festivals and listened to their many songs, which related to all facets of their lives – their struggles on the loom, their despair with the younger generation which is forsaking a traditional way of life and their desperate clinging to their traditions and their memories. This book, then, is as much about a retelling of folk narratives and the recording of loom songs as about the nitty-gritty of the survival of a leisurely craft which is struggling to stay afloat at a time when speed driven technology is the prime mover in the major commercial domain of textiles, and saleability and competitive pricing become the decisive factors. It endeavours to connect the concerns of the weavers with the role of NGOs and government established weaver service centres and, thus, provides a valuable feedback to votaries of the handloom industry.