STORY FROM LOOMS
Bilkish Bano, Kaithun, Kota
Bilkish was only 16 years old when she married and came to Kaithoon, a village in Kota district of Rajasthan. Bilkish was not only unskilled but, unlike other weavers, she have never seen the craft then. Gradually, she started learning about the craft and, after some time, she organised a group of weavers. .
Over a period of time, she encouraged more weavers to join her and eventually formed the SHG called “Kota Women Weavers (KWW)” in 2005 with 13 weavers. Since then Bilkish is a lead weaver in the group.
For the last 18 years, Bilkish and her other weavers have been a part of this group. Rajasthan Government also built and set up a Common Facility Centre (CFC) to help and encourage the group to manage their day-to-day activities..
Earlier, the women were shy, and communication was a barrier. Today, they feel confident, and the women weavers travel to various places to participate in exhibitions and trade fairs to market their products. The weavers have overcome their initial hesitation and now talk freely to their customers and government officials.
Bilkish says, “Ever since we have formed a group, we can introduce the craft of Kota Doria to the world. In addition, we procured the geographical indication (GI) tag.”
Rubena, kaithun, kota
Rubena is a young weaver from Kaithoon, Rajasthan. The 30-year-old weaver has been in weaving practice for more than 10 years now.
Like many other women from the cluster, Rubena wanted to lead a healthy life supporting her family and upbringing her children. With that dream, she did sheer hard work to learn the skill and performed very well in her work.
Rubena has 4 children and her daily chores are constantly juggling between household work and weaving. Like many weavers in the area, Rubena operates from the loom set up at her home and the one at the CFC. The young artisan expressed her gratitude to ACCESS for taking the onus to re-establish the flood-affected CFC. She can now work efficiently and finds it encouraging to weave along with her sister weavers.
She adds that after the start of the Living Looms, her income has significantly increased. She adds, “Even though the income is still insufficient for savings, it provides a huge help in managing our day-to-day needs.” She wants every woman to learn & acquire skills and become financially independent for family prosperity.
Khushnuma, Kaithun, Kota
Khushnuma is one of the group's youngest weavers and is immensely connected with the craft. At only 27, she has mastered the art and dedicatedly weaves from the comfort of her home and the CFC.
She feels motivated to work and encourage other women artisans to practice the craft professionally to become financially independent.
She says, “Since the Living Looms started, there has been an increase in my income. As the ACCESS team restructured and renovated the CFC, many other women weavers in the area, who did not have looms to weave at their homes, are very happy to work at the center.”
Khushnuma is an example and source of inspiration for many young weavers and believes in preserving traditional art for posterity.
Ifthesham, Kaithun, Kota
Ifthesham comes from a family that has been recognized for its mastery over the traditional craft of Kota Doria. Her mother-in-law has received the national award for her intricate weaving and innovative Kota Doria patterns.
She has been practicing the craft for the past 10 years. Ifthesham feels a sense of familiarity with the craft as she grew up watching her parents and family weave on the looms. As a young girl, alongside her education, Ifthesham would actively participate in the weaving process at home.
While taking a trip down memory lane, she remembers that every home she used to visit as a child had a loom, but then, things changed. Due to the declining market, many skilled weavers migrated to nearby cities and towns, taking up unskilled jobs.
However, Ifthesham is optimistic. She adds that she is grateful to have been born into a family of weavers and feels content to know that their craft is adored throughout the world and members of her cluster are getting empowered. She and her mother-in-law travel to various exhibitions to showcase their products.
Her husband, Imran Ali, promotes her products on digital platforms.
Shafina joined Sanjog Ramakrushna SHG in 2016 and she is also an active member Kota Women Weavers Organization (KWWO) was set up by the women collective with the support of Govt. of Rajasthan.
Shafina has 15 years of weaving experience. She has 3 daughters and 1 son. One daughter and son are differently abled. It was very tough for her to bring up these kids with special care and support..
She has 5 support weavers to work for her in production and timely order completion. It was very difficult for her to continue her weaving profession during the first wave of covid19. She also lost connection with regular buyers and which forced her to work for other master weavers for living.
Shafina undertook the training to take photographs of Kota Doria handloom and support preparing the product catalog which she shares with her contacts. Now, she is confident enough to talk to her buyers and make a video call to show her products to her buyers.
Bashiran Bano, Kaithun, Kota
Bashiran Bano, 44 years old married master weaver from Kaithun, Kota has 2 sons and 1 daughter. She has studied 5th standard
She got married at an early age right after her marriage she started to learn weaving at her in-law’s house. Her financial condition was weak before marriage after one year she installed one separate loom for her to weave. The learning was very difficult for her as she was not equipped with the techniques of weaving because one year is too short to hone the skill of intricate weaving. Apart from the weaving skills she also developed leadership skills. Now, she holds the position of the secretary in Kota Women Weavers Organisation (KWWO) and also received a National Merit award for weaving. Her years of hard work have earned the support of 40 support weavers who work for her.
This what she has to say about Living Looms and ACCESS “Jabse access development services se jude tabse hamri bunker mahilaon mei atmavishwas aya hai ki firse hum achhese kaam kar sake.”.