Handloom weavers in Chennai suburb use natural fibres

Chennai: The constant sounds from the handloom units located at Shanmuga Mudaliar Street near the Murugan temple in Anakaputur, at Chrompet in the city suburb speaks volumes about the efforts put in by members of the weaver locality. ‘News Today’ explores the history of this place.

According to sources, “About half-a-century ago, the then-village area was developed as a handicraft centre and began exporting the famous ‘Madras Real Handkerchief’ to Nigeria.”

It was informed that weavers in Anakaputhur, started slowly knitting garments using natural fibres including banana, pineapple, aloe vera and bamboo.

Speaking on this, C Sekar, the president of Anakaputhur Jute Weavers’ Association, who is also said to be the crusader for natural fabric, said,“From fabric to dyes, the making of garments here is completely organic. The stem of the raw material (banana, pineapple or kenaf) should be dried and scrapped to remove dust. Each strand of the fibre that is taken out is then made into a yarn by a manual procedure, to weave in the handloom units.”

“There are chances that the fibre may be damaged if machines are used, thus making it fit only for the paper industry,” he added.

Dyes are later extracted from the natural products, including turmeric and indigo. Pieces of iron are soaked in a jaggery solution for about 21 days, after which it gives out a black colour.

It is poured on the colourless fabric, which sucks it in. A similar procedure is followed with any other natural product to extract the colour, it is learnt.

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Nivedhika Krishnan