India’s oldest industry after agriculture, is its textile industry. For centuries, the weavers have created magic with the cotton, jute and silk yarn. Historians have documented that the Harappan civilisation were weavers of cotton cloth. Vedic literature contains texts that describe weaving and spinning.

The relations that India established with all other parts of the world involved the trade of cloth made here. India exported cloth to all parts of the world. In fact, history teaches us that when the British came here, they slowly and steadily destroyed the textile industry. That is why Mahatma Gandhiji made home-spun khadi a great symbol of his sathyagraha against the British rule.

The sheer variety of different weaves of India is amazing. Travel anywhere in India, North to South, East to West, every state has more than 2 to 3 different types of unique weaving technique that is totally different from the rest of India.

The richness, fine quality, and exquisiteness of the  cloth are cornerstones of the handloom of India. The craftsmanship of the weavers is remarkable. Every region of India is steeped in tradition and the weaves of the area reflect the culture and tradition there. These skills are passed on from generation to generation.

The versatile, comfortable, and unique garment of India – the saree, is showcased in a myriad of weaves by the magicians of warp and weft. Just to give you an idea, here is a small, probably incomplete list of different types of weaves and styles that are unique to that place. The list includes styles of weaving of both silk and cotton.

Andhra Pradesh: Uppada, Venkatagiri, Kalamkari block prints, Dharmavaram, Mangalagiri
Arunachal Pradesh: Apatani
Assam: Muga silk, Mekhela chador, Paat silk, Eri silk
Bihar: Tussar silk, Bhagalpur silk, Madhubani prints,
Chattisgarh: Kosa silk, Gond painting
Gujarat: Patola, Kutch shawls and embroidery, Parsi Gara embroidery
Haryana: Phulkari embroidery, handloom bedsheets and durries, Chope shawls, Bagh embroidery
Himachal Pradesh: Kully weaves, Rampur chaddar, woollen textiles of Kinnaur
Jammu and kashmir: Printed pure silks, Kashida embroidery dresses and shawls, Pashmina shawls, delicately embroidered scarfs and dresses
Jharkhand: Tussar silks
Karnataka: Mysore silk, printed pure silks, Kasuti work, Gadag sarees, Belgaum cotton, Ilkal sarees
Kerala: Kasavu,  Balrampuram silks
Madhya Pradesh: Chanderi silk, Maheshwari silk,
Maharashtra: Paithani brocades and silk, Kosa silk, Karvati sarees, Narayan peth sarees, Mashru and Himroo shawls and stoles
Manipur: Moirangphee, Phanek, Leirum, Lasingphee fabrics
Meghalaya: Dakmanda
Mizoram: Aimol shawls, Puanchei sarongs
Nagaland: Anagami Naga weaves,
Odisha: Sambalpuri sarees, Bomkai handlooms, Ikat sarees, Mayurbhanj sarees, Naupatna silks used to dress Lord Jagannath, Berhampuri silks
Punjab: Phulkari embroidery
Rajastan: Bandini tie and dye fabrics, Sanganeri block prints, Gota, zardosi and zari work
Sikkim: Carpets and woolen garments, Thangka paintings, Lepcha weaving
Tamilnadu: Kanjivaram silks and cottons, Chettinad cotton, Coimbatore cotton, Madurai cotton, Arni silks
Telangana: Gadwal silks, Ikkat sarees, Pochampalli
Tripura: Riha
Uttar Pradesh: Chikan kari embroidery,  Banarasi silks and brocades, Jamdani silks, Batik printing, Zari and Zardosi embroidery,
Uttarakand: Chamba rumals, Lohi shawls, Aipan paintings
West Bengal: Baluchari, Kantha work, Murshidabad silks

The mind boggling variety is simply awe-inspiring. The talent of our weavers must be passed on to the next generations. Otherwise this treasure of knowledge will be lost forever. This can happen only if we buy handlooms, so that these magicians may continue to create stories in cloth for generations to come.

So how many of these varieties do you own?