Forum For Rural Weavers is a not-for-profit company working towards protecting India’s cultural heritage and providing rural livelihoods. It works with artisan groups to create exquisite handwoven dhurrie rugs, cushions and Gond Art in central India. Each dhurrie is hand-made on a traditional wooden loom using weaving techniques which have been passed through generations. While Forum for Rural Weavers was formally started in May 2018, its founders have been working with artisans since April 2011
With a passion for traditional crafts and their potential to provide sustainable livelihoods to artisans, Vivek founded Forum for Rural Weavers, a non-profit social enterprise in May 2018. Earlier, he had founded Kalāvilāsa Handmade in Aug 2011 to work with dhurrie weavers. Vivek graduated in Electrical Engineering from IIT-Kanpur in 1991, and worked in the telecom and IT industry for 20 years in India and US.
Kalyan mentors social and educational enterprises in under-served segments. He was a co-founder of Mindtree, an IT services company. Kalyan graduated from IIT-Kanpur in 1986 and served in the computer design and engineering department of Wipro R&D. He serves as a Director of Forum for Rural Weavers.
Starting his career as a teenage weaver in the dhurrie workshops in Varanasi, Jan Mohammed has come a long way. As a master weaver now, he runs the dhurrie workshop and guides the young weavers. An important member of the team, he has tremendous insight into the punja weaving craft, and readily takes a challenge to weave large dhurries and difficult designs.
Sameer has been weaving dhurries for more than 20 years and is a perfectionist to the core.
An elderly weaver who wants to earn his own living despite having sons who earn themselves, Hisabuddin enjoys his time weaving beautiful dhurries.
Nikki is a Gond tribal who learnt traditional Gond painting from his uncle. He has been painting since 2001.
Namita is a Gond tribal who was taught by Nikki, her husband. She has been painting since 2014.
Vivek's Story and the first steps we took on this journey to empowering a Rural Weavers Community
India’s rich craft heritage appealed to me, which was, however, tempered by the neglect of rural India, where craft continued to be practised. After finishing the first-half of my career, I decided to take the plunge in mid-2011 to do something meaningful in crafts domain. Visits to craft clusters across the country followed, and after experimenting with various craft forms, I decided to work with the weavers of dhurries, the Indian flat-weave rug. Dhurries have been woven for centuries in India, and were first recognised outside India the in mid-19th century. A versatile rug, dhurrie is eco-friendly, aesthetic, easy-to-maintain, and thus a modern alternative to the traditional pile carpets. After working with dhurrie weaving groups in northern India, I found a group in central India with excellent skills and professional attitude, and we are now partners in this journey. In the mid-2018, Forum For Rural Weavers was founded. Customers love the dhurrie rugs, which are designed by us using the latest CAD tools or by hand, and woven by the artisan groups. Having experienced customer delight at a small-scale of individual buyers, we look forward to supplying the dhurrie rugs to stores and brands across the world.
Dating Dhurries Back In Time
History - Rich Heritage - Kilims
Flat-weave rugs are called dhurries in India. They are being woven for centuries, perhaps more than a millenium. A textile fragment found during excavation in Khotan is supposed to be the oldest surviving piece of a dhurrie woven in India. Dhurrie was primarily a utilitarian textile, being used for purposes such as covering a wooden bed, or seating people on a bare floor, or as a prayer mat. The design of the dhurrie was simple, and typically featured stripes. It was always made of cotton and was woven in households. Mughal kings brought carpet and it's weavers to India from Persia in the 16th century. Unlike a dhurrie, it was a decorative textile which had a pile, and was made of wool and silk. The design of a carpet influenced the dhurrie design, which the Indian artisans readily adopted and internalized. Indian motifs like lotus and peacock were added to the design portfolio. To cater to demands from Europe, pictorial and floral designs were woven in the dhurrie. During the colonial rule in India, the British found a novel use of dhurrie by getting the prisoners to weave dhurries in Indian jails.
To this day, the best vintage dhurries are the ones made in a jail. Rajasthan Maharajas were enamored by the Persian kilims, a flat-weave rug admired for its geometrical patterns and earthy hues . Made of wool, these kilims were unsuitable for the hot weather in Rajasthan. The local artisans were asked to make decorative cotton dhurries, a first in India. Unlike kilims, the Rajasthan cotton dhurries were made in bright colours, and used local motifs. Natural traders, the British encouraged Indian artisans to make wool dhurries, primarily for export to UK. After independence, the patronage of Maharajas diminished in Rajasthan and the British owners of wool dhurrie workshops left India. Since then, dhurries have made a comeback as a chic rug in the world of home textiles.
The Story Of Hatwa Village
Sone River - Kaimur Hills - Fertile Soil
Situated to the north of the mighty Sone river, Hatwa village lies in the foothills of Kaimur hills in in central India. Landholdings are small, soil is fertile, and people practice rain-fed, and largely subsistence farming. Because of lack of industries, the area has practically no employment opportunities outside agriculture. Consequently, most of the able young men leave for work to the more prosperous states. In the earlier days, many people from the village were employed in the weaving workshops in neighboring state of Uttar Pradesh. That work has reduced to a trickle now, and many weavers have taken up alternate professions. Forum For Rural Weavers has tapped into this base of weavers to provide them work in their native villages. The number of weavers is dwindling, as the youth are more inclined to work in the cities which appear attractive, and the urban work is considered a move up the social ladder.
Gond Art : Reflection of Man's Connection To Nature
Nature - Tribal Heritage - Sacred
Originally adorning mud homes as a symbol of good
fortune, Gond art owes its origins to the folklore of
the Gond tribe. Now, globally recognised in its
modern vibrant version on canvas and paper, it is no
longer appreciated for just it's tribal heritage but is
well respected as a characteristic modern art form.
Subject matter includes myths, folklores, abstract
concepts like emotions and dreams, and images of
daily life. Gond artists use lines, dots and dashes in a
way that they convey a sense of movement to the still
images. Colours are vivid, reflecting the beauty of
nature. According to their belief system, everything,
be it hill, river, rock or tree, is inhabited by a spirit
and is sacred. Gond paintings are a form of respect
and a reflection of man’s close connection with