Anakaputhur weavers rue poor patronage    

C Sekar               Photo: R Pugazh Murugan

From over 3,000 families a few decades back, now only about a 100 or so, are involved in the traditional weaving business in the neighbourhood of Anakaputhur. News Today finds out more.

As C Sekhar, a third generation weaver, puts it, “This is because of the lack of funds and facilities. We have been requesting the government to help uplift our community, for more than a decade.”
According to sources, “The story dates back to the 1920s, when weavers here were doing good business. They formed the Anakaputhur Jute Weavers’ Association (AJWA). It was producing Real Madras Hand Kerchief, that was exported to Nigeria. Around the 1960s, they manufactured dress materials from the brand Bleeding Madras and Madras Checked. However, the military government that took over Nigeria in the 1970s, banned the import of the fabric. This took a toll on the sales.”

Photo: R Pugazh Murugan

Speaking on his association with the profession, Sekar who uses eco-friendly techniques, says, “It was a scene in Ramayana that inspired me to develop sarees from natural fibres. In the epic, Hanuman weaves a saree for Seetha with banana fibre, before rescuing her from Ravana’s hold.”
“The people here use many bio-fibres to weave. Aloe vera, bamboo, banana stem and erukkanchedi, are a few among the famous varieties. We also use natural dye like coffee, sandalwood, turmeric, indigo, and infuse medicinal herbs including neem and tulsi,” he explains.

Photo: R Pugazh Murugan

“Since pollution is high these days, medicinal herbs act as anti-virus agents and are good for health. Natural fibres are eco-friendly since they decompose easily. It offers a new alternative for reducing wastes,” he adds.

Sekar, is understandably, skeptical about the continuation of the legacy.
“I am not sure if the next generation will continue this business. Already, many weavers have left this job and moved to different streams. My son is studying B.Tech in Textile Technology. But, we don’t have proper facilities to expand. All we want is a better place and new machinery. We have been requesting the government to arrange for the same. But, we haven’t received any response yet,” he states.
Sekar can be contacted at 70109 15662

M Anandavalli