Bhavani Jamakkalam: Weavers in knots despite GI tag

Considered a highly laborious task, it takes two people’s work for two days to weave one 10-by-10-foot carpet. Photos: Prabhu Mallikarjunan

It’s nearing lunchtime. In the scorching heat with temperatures already soaring over 40 degrees Celsius, two bare-bodied men and two women sit on the cow dung-smeared mud floor to weave Jamakkalam (thick cotton carpets) at Kuruppanaickenpalayam village in Tamil Nadu’s Erode district.

The weavers in their late 30s and 40s, move their hands constantly with a weft shuttle in hand to weave the carpet bit by bit. Their feet remain entrenched in the pit where the wooden loom stands. A bottle of oil is kept handy to lubricate the moving parts of the loom. It’s hanged alongside the yarns. All of them are either second- or third-generation weavers. Sitting beside them is an old lady who spins the yarns that are passed on to the weavers. Nearly a third of the population in this village under Bhavani taluk are unlettered, as per the Census 2011.

Considered a highly laborious task, the weavers say their lives haven’t improved much over the years and lack of innovation in the looms have resulted in them losing out to competitors from other states. Besides, the GST and lockdown impact only worsened their conditions with dwindling earnings.

A long tradition

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