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Somasar Patola weavers shift from silk yarns to cotton

With the rising prices of silk, many traditional weavers from Somasar village of Surendranagar, Gujarat are shifting from silk to cotton yarns. The traditional art of patola weaving has got a new life with the support of researchers at Vadodara’s M S University's Department of Clothing and Textile.

Silk is costly with each kilo costing anywhere between Rs 5,500 to Rs 6,000 - making it unaffordable to traditional weavers. Moreover, they have to procure resham from Bangalore. In contrast, cotton which costs nearly Rs 300 per kilo is not only cheap but also easily available and has good demand.

The problem arises when weavers started dyeing on cotton, the colours did not remain on the fabric for long and that's why they needed scientific help, according to traditional weavers from Somasar where the weaving community has a population of 3,000 of which 1,500 households are from Vaghela community. Presently about 30 households in Somasar are actively into weaving or allied trades.

The weavers got help from teachers and students of MSU and started preparing dupattas and dresses from cotton yarns. They will soon make shirts, cushion covers, curtains among others. This new technique has helped open new markets and attracted the attention of youth.

MSU’s objective was to train artisans in design development and value-addition. They applied a tool ‘Human Center Design’ developed by professor Wendy Weiss, a textile design expert from United States' and a Fulbright-Nehru Senior Research Scholar, MSU researchers developed a training program for Somassar artisans.