Origin: For the last 5,000 years, the air of Himachal Pradesh is filled with the craft of weaving. A Kullu shawl is adorned with geometrical patterns and bright colors. Kullu’s cold climatic conditions called for the birth of handloom weaving.
The art of weaving gorgeous motifs on wool entered Kinnauri village Shubnam from Tashkent, in Uzbekistan, via China and Tibet. Kinnauri village transformed into the land of weavers. However, with time, the local king wished to persecute these talented weavers.
In order to save their lives, they escaped to Kullu valley. Very soon, Kullu valley become the land of weavers as they migrated artisans taught the skills of the trade to Kulluvi people.
Prior to learning this technique, decoration in Kulluvi weaving spoke only of distinctions in twill weave, checks, and plaids. Motifs and border patterning came courtesy Kinnauri village. Kullu shawls are used by both: men and women. Men’s shawls are addressed as Loi or Pattu and are minus any pattern. This ancestral technique and custom is well preserved in the land of Himalayas as each and every resident of this hamlet is well versed with the procedure.
This technique has embraced the flavour of Bhushehari craftsmen from Rampur district of Himachal Pradesh who introduced woven floral designs to this craft.
Present Day: Today, Kullu Shawls are well established in the global market. The handloom weaving is a major contributor to the Himachal Pradesh economy. Around 20, 000 artisans in Kullu have dedicated their life to this craft. These talented weavers have transformed their homes into their units and find buyers in independent units and cooperative units.
Almost each and every home in rural Kullu is manufacturing Kullu shawls. Traditionally, these weavers are habitual of weaving shawls and fabric for their daily needs.
The weavers of Kullu are facing are facing tuff competition from fake Kullu shawl sellers. State government has adopted various initiatives to stop the selling of fake shawls. One of them being assigning of Geographic Indicator (GI) to Kullu Shawls. This indicator is only on shawls that are manufactured in Kullu valley using handlooms.
Procedure: Three types of wool are used to make Kullu shawls – Merino wool, Angora wool and local sheep wool. Occasionally, the weaver also plays with a combination of these wools. These shawls are adorned mostly with geometrical designs. Some of the shawls also have floral patterns.
The Kulvi motifs have been inspired from Kinnauri designs. With time, the Kinnauri designs have been enlarged and simplified. Kullu shawls are made only using handlooms. Only organic and are non – toxic dyes are used.
To check the originality of shawls, observe the flip side. The indication of the handcrafted shawl is that the design appears the same either ways.
Bring Home Kullu Shawls: Walk around the streets of Kullu are you’ll come across copious handloom shawls. Pick the one that resonates with you!