Checks and Balances

Women weaving cotton yarn in Kaithun.

Women weaving cotton yarn in Kaithun.

Kota: Kaithun, a village about 15 km away from Kota, Rajasthan, is home to nearly 500 weavers. Mostly women from the Ansari Muslim community, they have been weaving in the tradition of handwoven Kota Doria for generations. As one walks through the turban-like winding streets, where houses sit cheek-by-jowl providing solace from the 48 degree desert heat, it’s not unusual to see pit looms and charkhas in almost every home. It’s about 7am and women are already out for sizing (starching with rice paste and wild onion juice) and warping the yarn. Gossamer silk threads that are almost invisible and pure cotton yarns are stretched out on bamboo stands, allowing them to gain strength before they are dyed and put on the loom.

Kota Doria (doria meaning thread) saris were patronised by Maharaja Bhim Singh, who summoned the weavers from the Deccan region to Kota, in the early 18th century. Its unique warp and weft combines threads in a delicate check pattern, called khat, with cotton yarn that gives it stiffness while the silk lends the fabric its lightness. However, with challenges of duplication from the power loom, and its lack of visibility on textile platforms, Kota Doria has seen a decline over the years.


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