Laxmi Narayana is a Dhurrie weaver from Warangal in Telangana. He practises the craft of weaving Interlock and Kalamkari dhurries. When he started his journey in 1991, he had only four looms at home. Today, this has grown to a sizable endeavour of close to 200 looms with a team of fifteen weavers. He is even able to undertake export orders.
The past three generations of his family have been into handloom weaving. Laxmi Narayana’s grandparents wove fine yarn saris and dhotis by hand. Then in 1978, he started carpet weaving as there was demand from the International market for Interlock dhurries. From the year 1983, he learned many techniques and became a master weaver.
Earlier he used to live in a joint family with his brothers but now he lives separately with his wife and son.
A typical day entails weaving from 7 am to 6 pm and his earnings are dependent on the design. There are several ailments faced typically by weavers from body pain to eye problems as they need to count the warp thread every time as per the graph design. They use different yarns as per design needs. During the monsoons, the weavers cannot work as pit looms pits get filled with water.
Laxmi Narayana says proudly, “To expand my product line, I have implemented many designs using different materials. I have fused linen, viscose, polyester materials with cotton durries to give a more modern touch. I am inspired by my imagination and listen to what customers expect when they share ideas. We also research and stay up to date with market trends in colours and patterns.”
The main competition faced by dhurrie weavers is from the machine-made carpet industry. The Telangana weavers also face stuff competition from Panipat and Badhoi. “Our products cost more because we take more time and this shows in the quality.”, he says sadly about why his industry is losing to competition.
He confesses that few people want to continue this line of work in the future as the earnings are low for effort invested. They would rather do other jobs. Now with the Covid 19 situation, his business has taken a big hit. He is stuck with excessive stock and since dhurries are commodities that do not classify as essential items, demand is near to nil. There have been no new orders and it has been months since the looms have been worked on. Laxmi Narayana believes it could take anywhere between six to ten months for business to resume to normal.
He continues to sell through e-commerce platforms, Whatsapp and social media. The only government support they received was a one-off sum of 1500 rupees . They are trying to use this time to spend with their families. His son is studying in the eighth grade and doing his classes online.