Aiming social change: Carpet weaver’s innovation for marginalized craftsmen

It was after three years of closely observing the traditional loom-made carpets that Hussain has come up with a modified loom, which can produce quality carpet in less time.

Saqib Malik
Srinagar, Publish Date: Feb 13 2018 12:01AM | Updated Date: Feb 13 2018 12:01AM
Aiming social change: Carpet weaver’s innovation for marginalized craftsmenGK Photo

A socially relevant innovation aimed for revival of the traditional Kashmiri Carpet, developed by a Magam-based carpet weaver and dealer, is not just winning this innovator praise and prayers from the marginalized craftsmen but also accolade from the government.

Fifty-year-old artisan-cum-innovator, Syed Altaf Hussain came into limelight earlier this month after his innovation ‘Portable Carpet Loom’ was showcased at an exhibition organized by Directorate of Handicrafts at Kashmir Haat in Srinagar. Hussain’s innovation, which is half the size than the traditional loom and 10 times less in price compared to the modern loom developed by the government is aimed to produce flawless carpets, he says. 

Hussain who has been associated with carpet weaving for last 35 years says this art passed to him from his ancestors is a prized possession.  With so many years of experience, Hussain has earned the recognition of being the most experienced carpet dealer in Magam vicinity. The dying state of carpet weaving art in Kashmir coupled with a growing clout of Iranian, Turkish and even Chinese carpets in the global market has made Hussain a worried man. It was in 2014 when Hussain visited Iran to explore the nuances of the carpet weaving art.  This innovator who resides at Ahmedpora near Magam says he was immensely helped by a visit to Iran to understand latest techniques in carpet weaving as that country has been immensely progressing in this art, he adds.  

“My Iran visit was an eye-opener as I realised the presence of loopholes in our carpet which was a result of the traditional looms. I regret why I didn’t visit Iran earlier so that I would have been able to imbibe latest technology of carpet weaving,” says Hussain. 

It was after three years of closely observing the traditional loom-made carpets that Hussain has come up with a modified loom, which can produce quality carpet in less time.

According to Hussain it took him about six months to shape his idea in to a physical form of portable loom but the research and development was a more time consuming process to bring the idea to the design state. Hussain believes the portable loom can produce carpets that can compete with foreign rugs.

“A video recorded by me of carpet loom in Iran helped me to design a similar loom. But soon I brought a few modifications to that loom and eventually developed five varieties of the portable loom,” Hussain said.

Hussain says a major drawback in the traditional Carpet loom is the vast area occupied by these bulgy devices and the trash left behind by them. In order to design the sleek portable loom, Hussain modified the traditional loom to fit into just a few meters. 

“Most of the artisans are economically downtrodden and do not have enough space for bigger looms.  The portable loom is quite handy and can be taken from one room to another.  The artisans can also move the loom to outdoors during summers and weave while enjoying the sun light,” Hussain said.

Hussain says even the ‘modern carpet-loom’ provided by government on 100 percent subsidy to weavers also occupies more space and is even costly with a price tag of Rs 40,000 – Rs 60,000.  The talented carpet weaver and dealer believes his innovated portable loom can revive the carpet weaving art in Kashmir as it is the most cost effective machine in the market.

“The price of the loom designed by me is just Rs 6,000-Rs 7,000. I hope that this product gets commercial viability and proves beneficial for the marginalized carpet weaver of Kashmir who has suffered both physically and psychologically for all these years,” says Hussain. “Our women folk who are into carpet weaving leave this profession once they start a married life.  This portable loom can go along with them to their in-laws home so that they continue with this art form,” Hussain said. This carpet weaver and dealer hopes that government promotes his innovation so that it reaches to maximum number of carpet weavers in Kashmir. 

Assistant Director Handicrafts, Mushtaq Ahmad Shah said Hussain’s loom could be a game changer, as it would provide option of portability. “Traditional looms which are used currently by artisans are big in size and difficult to move, but this loom can be used at any place.” Shah said, adding, that majority of the looms provided by the government were not used by the artisans due to their large size. “We issued some 1400 looms previously but majority of them were not used. So the one made by Syed Altaf Hussain is very efficient and I appeal all the artisans to get benefitted with it,” he said.


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