India's vanishing weavers

Line by line, a weaver lays the thread down in preparation for the loom.
Line by line, a weaver lays the thread down in preparation for the loom.PHOTOS: BRYAN CHAN AND MARIJA SAVIC
A woman turns the spinning wheel in her home. The craft of weaving is a kindred affair with whole communities involved in all parts of the process.
A woman turns the spinning wheel in her home. The craft of weaving is a kindred affair with whole communities involved in all parts of the process.PHOTOS: BRYAN CHAN AND MARIJA SAVIC
One weaver sends the shuttle across while another receives, repeating the process until the cloth is completed.
One weaver sends the shuttle across while another receives, repeating the process until the cloth is completed. PHOTOS: BRYAN CHAN AND MARIJA SAVIC
An artisan showing the spools of pre-dyed yarn that are used to create the designs by a master weaver.
An artisan showing the spools of pre-dyed yarn that are used to create the designs by a master weaver. PHOTOS: BRYAN CHAN AND MARIJA SAVIC

These artisans and their handlooms face a bleak future as they cannot compete with power looms and cheap, fast fashion

Muthu, a 70-year-old Keralan weaver, sits hunched at his loom, operating a rickety contraption made of wood, bolts and strings. His slender hands move swiftly and methodically.

The loom is an instrument and he is a musician bringing a song of silk and cotton to life.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 27, 2019, with the headline 'India's vanishing weavers'. Print Edition | Subscribe