The challenge of eating ‘less’ but ‘better’

A visit to a village of weavers, this sunny sunday morning, made me think a lot and I want to share this experience with you. Bhujodi, a small village about ten kilometers east of Bhuj is inhabited by several craftsmen who specialize in hand-loom weaving. Besides the fact that artisans welcomed us to their homes as if we were family, they shared their knowledge with passion and without a second thought about selling anything to us.

weaving05First we meet Narayan-bhai and his son. They specialize in the manufacture of woollen carpets. Today it is a bit special, they are preparing for Diwali, the Indian New Year, so are coating the walls of their home with a mixture of mud, lime and cow-dung.

weaving08

However seeing our excitement to watch the looms work, they settle down at their looms and start weaving a carpet. Although I’ve seen weaving work before, I am fascinated! Beyond the technical moves that are impressive, the complexity and beauty of the machine leaves me speechless. All these lines, these regular movements, these colors … create an atmosphere that is truly mesmerizing!

They have 2 looms, fully manual. The one that Naryanbhai uses

weaving01and the other handled by his son:

weaving02My wife and I sit there for a long time just watching them work. Most of their production is for a client from Finland! They take about 1 day to make 1 carpet.

weaving03They are proud to show that they have designed a carpet with three different types of wool: camel, black sheep and white sheep.

weaving04They say they love the creative side of their craft, but do not have enough time to truly experiment since they need to produce carpets for the Finnish which are large orders and are always the same : gray and white…”european tastes!” they say.

And then there is Purushothambhai. If you can read the name correctly the first time you win a silk shawl :) We had not even planned to visit his home, he catches us on the streets and says “come and see, I have something to show you.”

weaving10He begins by showing us a series of very finely woven shawls with a mixture of silk and cotton, then take us to his loom. It is much narrower than Naryanbhai because it is used to make scarves and shawls but it is equally impressive.

weaving07 The thread is much thinner, and the weaving takes longer. Depending on the type of pattern, a piece can take up to 1 month. The method for doing this kind of pattern is inexplicable in writing, it has been a good half an hour to figure out how he is doing it! Purushothambhai is first and foremost an artist, he creates his own designs, his own forms … He sells his works everywhere in India, at exhibitions and events related to crafts.

weaving09He tells us this moving story of how he once set off to create his “best” piece, he had already given three months of hardwork into it and while it was still on the loom and nearly complete, an insect ate into it. This piece hence will never get sold. But will remain with him to tell his story.

weaving11To be able to feel the connection between knowledge and the product is really a unique experience, it gives a new perspective on the value of things.

“The industrial era” helped us make a bunch of objects accessible in large numbers and at a price much more affordable than products that are “handmade”. This is what allows us to not have to save for two months to buy a pair of trousers, that I personally find quite handy … However, this “progress” has totally engulfed our concept of the “value” of things.

There is little or no information on the conditions under which the products we use are made, by whom, with what, with what impact on the environment and on society more generally. Take the time to take this step to “understand” a product, to look at it differently and go back again to the challenge of eating “less” but “better”.

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96 comments
  1. There’s a lotta truth here. Passion for your work is priceless. Good post.

      • Absolutely, ditto. What a great thing to see, and thanks so much for sharing. These artists, and the work they do, are truly special.

  2. Thanks for this thoughtful post. It’s good to be reminded to take the time to properly value things.

  3. kalicet said:

    My friend has a floor loom in his spare bedroom not so different from this… how exciting to see weaving from India :)

  4. alison said:

    how happy i am to happen upon your blog and to read this post! i work as a handweaver at a small textile mill in the northeast kingdom of vermont and all of our work is done by hand, from skein winding, dyeing, warp-building, and loom setup. we work on 18th century barn looms, and i can completely relate to everything you’ve written here, in particular having little or no time for experimentation…and believe me, i long for the opportunity to use my skills in that regard! your last few paragraphs about appreciating the value of things made by hand rings so true…in our modern life, we take for granted even the existence of fabric, ready-made clothing or household articles…sometimes i wonder why we handweavers struggle to make our living in this way, but it seems so worthwhile when one actually does it.

    {how about making less, but better too?}

    thank you for this wonderful post. i’m glad i found you.

  5. Fascinating. It seems we’ve been spoiled by having access to so much of everything. Maybe if we learned to live with less, we could afford to pay for quality.

  6. Bridget said:

    What a privilege to see the manufacture of those wonderful products. Thanks for sharing.

  7. free penny press said:

    Much enjoyed this post and Congrats on the Freshly Pressed Nod!!

  8. These textiles are fabulous! I love the detail and precision…yes I agree that quality over quantity is important. Great photographs!

  9. What beautiful weaving! Such a great and awesome blog. Thanks for sharing.

  10. jalal michael sabbagh.http://gravatar.com/jmsabbagh86@gmail.com said:

    Fascinating crafts.Have a wonderful new year,jalal

  11. Lovely work.. Indeed an expression for all those who spend their life chasing this dream.. Eat less but sleep well!! :)

  12. Beautiful pictures! Thank you for sharing this wonderful story of these hard-working people

  13. Beautiful photographs both in composure, exposure, and conveyance of emotion. After reading a novel in which the protgonist embroidered, I led my 7th grade students to think about exactly this. I asked them to examine their clothing labels to see where their clothes came from and what that meant. I also brought in a woman who knits and embroiders to show students the process. Long and tedious, yet not without reward. Thank you for opening my eyes to another dimension of what I was teaching.

  14. mono said:

    Fascinating and beautiful!

  15. marymtf said:

    I’ve been thinking of progress a lot lately. It is not only that ‘progress has engulfed our concept of the value of things’ but also that whenever we progress, something valuable gets left behind. Creativity is lost. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Sampurna said:

    Beautifully written; and I totally agree with you. However, I have not had the oversight to essay my observations with such brilliant photographs. Congrats on FP!

  17. Awesome product, they are really create beautiful things.

  18. billy said:

    Happy holidays dear friend!!!

  19. What a great lesson and story. We often times forget about the craft and skill that is required to hand make things because we never really see it in our daily lives. Thank you for reminding us.

  20. I love native handcrafted items! I appreciate the hands behind them who carefully crafted them. Thank you for sharing!

  21. Yelly said:

    There is something to be said about handmade things. Your blog entry made me think about the lovely handwoven fabrics from Northern Philippines and I wonder what can be done to promote it…the craftsmanship is amazing too, as is the fabric that is featured in your entry! :)

  22. These weavers remind me of my own experience of watching Navaho Indians weaving carpets in the US.

  23. rrranand said:

    I like the philosophy and fully endorse your approach to life. Cheers,

  24. Tanks a lot for all your comments and encouragement, it keeps the energy high and makes me feel like writing more. Happy christmas to all of you!

    • Kate Johnson said:

      Happy Christmas….. !!!!!Have a fun….!!!! njy..!!!!

  25. nice post, and congrats for freshly pressed.

  26. Beautiful photos and wise words. Thank you for sharing!!

  27. agbl said:

    Interesting reading! Merry Chritsmas from Sweden

  28. This blog really relaxed me , made me think more about what I do and challenged me to be more focused on the detail…thanks for this..

  29. ekhava said:

    Reblogged this on ekhava and commented:
    The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination. –Albert Einstein

  30. Really nice, thank you. The pictures are beautiful.

  31. Really nice article….. Thanks for putting this across…

  32. Awesome share! This is definitely a work of art and labor of love.

  33. Paul Pri said:

    Hand work is beautiful.
    I want one! How mach will it cost?
    Where I can get one?
    Can I order it from a Web side?
    Will they ship from India?
    Some one please help them with a webside so they can sell this world wide !!!

  34. Every handwoven carpet is different and it tells a different. Unfortunately, we don’t find many handwoven carpets these days because its more economical to produce machine produce carpets.
    It must be a great experience to witness one in the making. Thanks for sharing 👍👍👍👍

  35. Very nice!”As long as there are people who love to make handmade things”.!!!

  36. Miya said:

    Beautiful

  37. jonathanochart said:

    It’s funny that they consider gray and white to be quintessential European! Your photos and explanations definitely opened my eyes to the art of rug-making – thank you for sharing.
    -Jonathan, http://styleoverstress.wordpress.com

  38. That’s why I adore handmade. There are too many stories behind it. Oh, I want that shawl.

  39. Beautiful craftsmanship! Thanks for sharing.

  40. Lady T said:

    Thank you for this post, truly wonderful!! I just got a weaving loom for Christmas- thank you for the extra inspiration :)
    Congratulations on being freshly pressed!

  41. Burlap's House said:

    Your post is inspirational ! Very nice to read it :D

  42. Great story! It’s so therapeutic to be able to create something with your hand and see the individual piece of work come to life. But greater yet is the satisfaction that comes from being able to do something you love, and share in the experience alongside family.

  43. I know you are getting tons of comments on this, but just wanted to make a quick share. The photos of the loom that the men are using is remarkably similar to those used in traditional Zapotec weaving in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. The looms were brought over by the Spanish. Thanks for sharing! I wrote one of my first posts on the dying process in the weaving villages here in a post:

    http://inspirationinfocus.wordpress.com/2012/03/21/inspiring-color/?preview=true&preview_id=11&preview_nonce=34250fe021

    Lovely photos, also :)

  44. omaa442 said:

    Wow lovely crafts, knowing how to use ur hands for something is really a blessing!

  45. Great post, beautiful photos, and great overall writing to capture the experience and bring it to us! Congrats on being freshly pressed!

  46. so surprissing iv neva thought of the ancestry of the things i use…thanks for bringing that up to my mind
    …good work

  47. What a gorgeous story & pictures! Thanks for sharing. Although, I believe the picture with Naryanbhai’s son is of a spinning wheel for making yarn or a swift for winding it into a hank- it’s hard to tell from the picture.

  48. I find the same happens in photography…I am so busy capturing the moment that stopping to take some time to truly create often ends up happening in post production, instead of right in the camera. Often I find that I have to stop and make the time!
    Great article!

  49. zachandclem said:

    This made me think of something I bumped into on the internet the other day, but I can’t remember for the life of me who said it. It was this scientist, might well have been a guy from Social Innovations, who explained how the process of globalization is ever increasing in our daily life. He used a computer mouse as an example; a beautifully adapted piece of equipment that you can use every single day, but who can you thank for it? Is there any single person you can say to “thank you, for making me this handy, beautiful mouse, I’ll put it to good use”? No; because the man who made the left button, doesn’t even know the man who made the right button. The person who assembled the pieces, doesn’t know how to make the pieces, and so on. But I really liked how he explained that today, millions of people are working together, even though they don’t realize it, to make products that others can enjoy. He made it sound less pessimistic than so many people do. I really liked your post, because it’s also optimistic.

  50. Thank you for sharing this. The carpets are beautiful and even more so after seeing how they are made.

  51. Awesome, thanks for the insight!

    It’s funny how little I generally trust seeing ‘hand made’ on a label. Photographs like this put a good dent in that cynicism.

    Can I have my silk shawl for knowing how to say his name? I assume it’s not cheating that my family’s from the subcontinent ;p

  52. Love the post and the photos! My family imports shawls and scarves from India to Canada but I have yet to see the process. You presented this beautifully :)

  53. Pratibha said:

    This is true. I have seen these with my own eyes. We think of life so differently in every part of the world but these are so true. Thanks for bringing this to the Blog.
    Pratibha

  54. khanhuda said:

    I am an Indian, and proud to be one.India’s talent is absolutely uncountable. The ART is India’s pride.

  55. anildeshmukh999 said:

    Great job for indians person talent

  56. Bubu said:

    this is touching. i hope you make more posts like this. cheers!

  57. Thank you for writing about Kutch, My roots are from Kutch even though I am based out of the country. Every time I visit my hometown, I feel a deep kinship to the people and the place. It is truly very special and through your blog, I am learning so many things about my heritage.

    I have also nominated your lovely blog for the Liebster Blog Award. To know more, please visit: http://desperatelyvegan.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/i-am-a-beliebster/

    Thank you again and congratulations ! :D

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