Handloom Weaving in Waraseoni - Innovation in a Cluster

Handloom Weaving in Waraseoni - Innovation in a Cluster

The heritage that still dwindles,

A respect - new found…

The deft use of the hand and the loom,

To ink the yards of the weave

If you have not heard of Waraseoni you would probably miss it on the map or even while pottering around in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Its a small town in the Balaghat district with a population of 24,757 comprising of 50% of male and 50% female population with maximum literacy rate(as per Indian census 2011).

Waraseoni finds itself on the world map owing to the popularity of its traditional cotton saress and present silk handloom fabrics.

Waraseoni art is clothed in the sensitivity of its design & centuries of mysticism. The intricacies of the design bear a testimony to the craftsmens love for his customs and rituals.The intricate hand embroidery on cotton and silk adds to its demand. Foraying into the diverse market of sarees, dupattas, kitchenware, dress material has also added to Waraseoni's credentials. The art is steeped in the beauty of its surrounding with exquisite motifs and designs.

Instruments of music, that beats to the rhythm of life; the music that arises and awakens the spirit and infuses reverence towards the fabrication of handlooms;the tempo of the weft against the bass of the warp.A place where designs consist of Floral motifs, Geometrical patterns, warli and tribal Inspiration,Chanderi & Maheshwari pattern can be seen.

A Project given to NIFT Mumbai, was an effort to incorporate innovation in cluster that aspires to provide a roadmap for cluster practitioners.

From the times of the kings, through the British Raj, till a formalized peak in the years following 1920, the cotton handloom industry of Waraseoni has thus far imbibed the growing demands of the markets and carved out a niche base for creating livelihoods that support and supplement the incomes of countless families. In addition to this is the emphasis of silk – the foundation and progress of the start to end production and manufacture of tussar silk.

To innovate and develop a design identity that provides equity to Waraseoni is indeed a task that shall elaborate the true culture and inspiration that defines the society that is woven into the fabric of dedication.


Selari Sari Reshmi Jote Sari


Patta Kinar sari


One has to constantly remind oneself that the weaver is an artist, a musician, and his loom - aninstrument of music. He is powerfully aware of every nuance of the weave and energises the rhythm of the loom to coax it into reproducing the finest music in textiles. The raga is established as he throws the shuttle through the tautly stretched warp threads, back and forth, over and over again. He beats the warp rhythmically, keeping taal. The wooden pedal is depressed to synchronise the throwing of the shuttles. The bamboo reeds are his wind chimes. All his senses of touch, sight and sound come into play during this play of divine music, a reverential piece of art. Each expression has its own language and its own interpretation, an expression which deserves to be respected and admired for all time.

There is hardly a village where weavers do not exist, each weaving out the traditional beauty of India's own precious heritage.

Mehndiwada, Beni, Hattaares situated in the Balaghat district of Madhya Pradesh. Weaving is one of the main occupations of the people of Mehndiwada, Beni, Hatta. Since ages, these villages are renowned for the cotton saris produced there; especially for their quality but with the passage of time this craft is now on the verge of extinction. Nowadays silk has taken place of cotton. Now in the present scenario there are around 150 looms in Mehndiwara, Beni, Hatta and people are still practicing this craft.

MadhyaPradesh is famous for Chanderi, Maheshwari and Waraseoni Tussar silk saris.

Cotton Saris of Waraseoni
The Waraseoni area, originally part of ancient Vidharbha, is the beginning of a vast cotton growing and weaving belt that stretches into neighboring Maharashtra. The Waraseoni area has been renowned for its fine count saris mainly 80 - 100s counts for years. Waraseoni handloom cluster has a history dating more than 100 years since the time of King Raghuji Bousle. It was his royal patronage that led to the flourishing handloom activity in the 1920s. During this phase, the weavers produced many varieties of cotton saris such as Jot, Mukty, Miradani, Mungiya, Partya, Ruiful etc., with 10 - 20s count yarns. In the 1950s cotton saris were produced in around 300 looms, mainly producing patterns. Hatta and Janta Saris of Waraseoni goes with a legend that they could be used for 2 years on daily basis and could be later cut or joined used in case it gave way in the posterior. The saris had a double aanchal , which mwant that they could be worn both ways and thus lasted longer. During the initial phases 9 meter Maharashtrian saris were produced.
The increased importance of sericulture has of late been the focus of the state government of Madhya Pradesh when considering the cluster of Waraseoni. The cluster was identified to provide sustenance to the languishing cotton weavers and improve the economy.
In Waraseoni area Tussar Silk is cultivated prominently. All processes from rearing of cocoons through weaving till sales at its formalized outlet is at Waraseoni. Tussar Silk, also known as Kosa Silk, is valued for its purity and texture. It is drawn from cocoons especially grown on Arjun, Saja or Sal trees. It is available naturally in shades of gold-pale, dark, honey, tawny, tobacco to beige, creamy, etc.

Design Analysis

15-Flower with inlay work 19 – Jangleedar (Fence)
20 – Leher (Wave) 21 – Jai Phool
22 – Eight petaled flower 23 – KairiButi (Mango)
24 – Fenthbuti (Brick)   25 – Six petaled flower
26 – Batasha (Disc) 27 – JuhiPhool

Historically the saris of the Waraseoni cluster have been a brief mix and match of reigning designs. The motifs used were RuiPhool, Jai Phool – floral, Karavati, DoubleKaravati – Saw Faced, and Shahpuri with Gom - Arrowhead. The borders were from 1.5 to 5 inches in width and were measured using finger width (ungals). The pallu often had a Karvat/Kumbh – Temple pattern.

The Baal saris had a silk warp and a cotton weft weave. It popularly had a 7 inch silk double flower pattern border called ‘Do dhadiruiphool’ border. If the same sari was checked, it was referred to as the Kothisari.

The Anjani or the Aanjana pure silk saris are marriage saris and are also referred to as Bhamoari saris. They are characterized by red and yellow Mukhiya checks and the Cheechpopdi checks. They are influenced by the Gom motif and are often seen to cater to the wealthier Baniya and the Lodhi communities.

The Sendri sari is red in colour and most often an adornment for the bride in the marriage ceremony. The typical style of wearing saris in the cluster is the Double Kashta and the Marar style of draping.


Salari Sari


Bagha Sari



Mookhiya Sari


Mookhiya Sari


Tribal Motifs
The design terminologies that are still in vogue in the cluster reveal a similarity of approach and a great deal of exchange with Chanderi.

Design Problems
The motifs of paisleys and flowers, patterns of tendrils and the dobby borders of diamonds and circles are not traditional to the very core. They are not part of the legends of Waraseoni and the replications earn no identity.

Diamond Borders
Unfortunately, the efforts to contemporize and adapt the designs to the markets of today, as claimed by the weavers, are also failing to a large extent. It is noticeable that there is no sense of new-age design as far as weaving is concerned. The designs for the embroidery are also over used and are largely variations of the tilak, kundan and few other motifs.

This severe lack of design sensibility with respect to the traditionality of yesteryear and the modern mind-set of today is a drawback to which Design Solutions were given.

With the study done in Waraseoni Cluster, it was concluded for Design that motifs taken were neither traditional nor contemporary, no inspiration of real life taken. Limitations in the diversified range if Products.



Tribal Motifs

    Daimons Borders  


Design Solutions

A vast arena of inspiration, a scope unlimited for development and the profit of its rapid implementation…

The designs that exist in the products of Waraseoni may be recognized to be borrowed, but that is in the light of their present knowledge level. By cashing in on the skills of the weavers, new designs can be introduced to make an impact on the saris and weaves of Waraseoni. Butis can be enhanced and, variety can be added to the borders, design solutions can be suggested in terms of the variety in embroidery and endless variations of the same can be made under the watchful eye of belongingness to the cluster of Waraseoni and its inspirational influences can be beneficial towards the development of better design.

Hence Designs were developed taking inspiration from the heritage and real life experiences of Waraseoni. The motifs developed were placed in different products using pattern engineering.

Text Box: Bolster Cover, Cushion Covers

Product Development
The product range presently benefiting the cluster is that of saris and dress materials. Both of them include embroidery as a method of value addition. The inclusion of stoles, scarves, bed linen, cushion covers and other lifestyle products, aids the cluster in terms of production output factor. Many products can be developed in a limited time frame and this eventually widens sales horizons that cash in added profits that are extremely required prior to further growth. This development is crucial to add to the economic sustenance of the handloom cluster.

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