Project Name: Magtha Project

Magtha means handloom in the local language of weavers in the Chhindwara district of Madhya Pradesh, once a part of the historic Central Province.

Kala Swaraj Foundation has set up a project to revive handloom weaving in the Sausar, Lodhikheda, and Mohgaon villages of Chhindwara. Central Province region once had the largest population of handloom weavers anywhere in the sub-continent. It is estimated that more than 160,000 weavers were active in the late 1800s. Unfortunately, much of the region’s traditional artisanal culture was lost after machine weaving was introduced during British rule.

The majority of the weavers in the Central Province region belonged to the Koshti sub-caste of Hinduism. They wove durable cotton fabrics that were used for daily clothing, as well as silk fabrics in some of the weaving villages of the region.
Today there are approximately 7000 weaving families living in Sausar, Lodhikheda, and Mohgaon villages but unfortunately only less than 500 families are weaving. They are weaving the new fabric which include silk and cotton and are similar in style and technique to the well known Maheshwari and Chanderi weaves of Madhya Pradesh.

The Mulmul/Muslin cotton fabrics are the first type of fabric that Kala Swaraj and the weavers have chosen to renovate and find new markets for. These fabrics will be used for garments and accessories and are beautiful because of soft feel & excellent drape of fine cotton.

Another reason Kala Swaraj selected this region to help redevelop handloom is because they are located in a fiber shed that produces cotton, amber-colored tussar silk, and fine mulberry silk. Integrating local craft production with local agricultural production is an important part of our mission. The region is also rich with forests that could open up an opportunity to use sustainably harvested natural dye substances.

Kala Swaraj will include other weaving centers of the region once the potential of cotton weaving is demonstrated in these three villages. Ultimately, Kala Swaraj hopes that one day the Central Province, will again be famous for its weaving of cotton and many more traditional weaving families will again be able to choose weaving as their main source of livelihood and way of life.