Jamakkalam, a Traditional Durry, in a New Form

In the middle of all the hullabaloo of western trends monopolising designer avenues and ruling high-end fashion, the exotic Indian handloom emerges unscathed, with an enviable lineage that makes every other modern day fabric look drab in comparison.

Following on the heels of Kancheepuram silk, the illustrious Bhavani jamakkalam from Tamil Nadu has been granted an authorised user label under the GI (Geographical Indication) Act. Once ignored, these fabrics are making a grand comeback by becoming prominent benchmarks.

Jamakkalam Durry or Durret is made out of cotton yarn or art silk yarn or wool yarn or jute yarn or in any combination. In the case of cotton yarn, it has a coarse count of single yarn of up to 20s or folded/plies of resultant count upto 10s. In the case of art silk yarn or wool yarn or jute yarn, it has up to 26 ends per inch, woven with plain weave or twill weave or in combination thereof in any dimension.

The multihued jamakkalam, which is a blanket or carpet with woven crossbars, has thrived for centuries due to its distinct style, affordability and sturdiness. These superior cotton textiles are woven in pit looms and derive their name from the river Bhavani — the story goes that a community of Lingayat Veera Saivites from Mysore migrated to the small town on the bank of this river in the 16th century. Jambai is a place near Bhavani and is well known for production of Jamakalam or the thick bedspread.

“This fabric is Tamil Nadu’s signature textile and has thrived through centuries due to quality consistency and its distinctive bold style. Awarding this label will provide the artisans the right kind of trust and acknowledgement that they deserve,” says M. Patel, a geography professor.

For those in the line of endorsing such handicrafts and taking it to an international platform, the GI tag is a milestone of sorts.

“The recognition has been long overdue and it’s the first step to copywriting an art form. Jamakkalam is a unique product — though the patterns and textures have been copied and mix-and-matched often, it has always been taken for granted. The recognition is a good thing for the weavers, as these folks don’t know any other way of change but to weave the fabric in the way they’ve always done.”

“The acknowledgement is a medium to reinforce their trust and passion for their art. Apart from numerous forms of handicraft, I believe that the Lambani art, wooden-craving from Virudunagar and the Chola bronze work that is known as panchaloha also deserve the tag,” says Deborah Thiagarajan, director, Madras Craft Foundation.

“I feel like the lucky mascot for this traditional weave, as post my March line, the fabric has picked up pace in the market. And now, the recognition,” laughs designer Rehane, who incorporated the jamakkalam fabric in clothing for the first time.

“Though Chennai as such hasn’t been very receptive to the dresses, French women and folk from all over the country have been extremely fascinated with the ensembles. Kalki Koechlin was recently photographed wearing one of my jamakalam collections.”

“From Madras checks to lungis, I love these indigenous fabrics and you’ll find a touch of them in all my creations,” adds the fashionista.

Posted on December 26, 2011, in Art, Fashion and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. OMG 🙂 jamakkalam as dress ?? lol !
    so, people can use it for floor and also for their girls 🙂

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