ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles By Seemanthini Niranjana

Many Threads of a Story

Many Threads of a Story Textiles and Weavers in South India by Vijaya Ramaswamy, 2nd edition; Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2006; SEEMANTHINI NIRANJANA The handloom industry in India has been a source for comment by traditionalists, modernists and all those in-between. Its survival and reinvention has baffled many, while its continuing problems pose big challenges for those within the industry and for the policymakers. All this notwithstanding, the production of cloth by handlooms continues to provide new ways of thinking about economic activity and social change, and the links between textile production and trade, weavers, state and society. Typically, in evaluating a traditional industry like handlooms, economic historians have examined the scale and shifts in weaving and trade across centuries. Alternatively, the sociological analysis of handlooms focuses on the way production is organised and the social relations and the networks that support both weaving activity and trade.

Introduction

This special issue seeks to offer a new way of thinking about the relationship between production by handlooms and market theory. The attempt is to map the trajectory of successful handloom enterprises, locating them in the context of the growth of the handloom industry as a whole. The mapping seeks to highlight certain trends and processes that typify how handlooms work with markets and market institutions. In doing so, it also offers insights into understanding marketing practices within an artisanal mode of dispersed production.

Mangalagiri: Case Study of Master Weavers

In Mangalagiri in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh, master weavers dominate and handlooms cooperatives are more or less non-existent. The master weavers handle a large volume of business and have expanded from a small base initially. But the entry into the trade has been managed differently by different entrepreneurs, in terms of their approach to flexibility, product differentiation, new markets, etc. This case study focuses on a small sample of five master weavers from the region.