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The Mashru Loom

July 13, 2016 2 min read

My knowledge of weaving techniques is minimal – so I might be wrong in thinking that the Masru or Mashru loom is a complicated one. But the few looms that I have seen – back strap looms in Northern Thailand & North East India, the hand foot loom in Ryukyu and the suspended hand-loom in Tibetan refugee camps seem simpler than this one.


Photos taken on a trip to Kutch in 2007


The final product – masru – has silk on one side and cotton on the inside making it a combination of both yarns.

Why? Why was it necessary to have two layers – one facing the world and one facing the wearer? In the case of most mixed yarns the mixing is done by using one yarn as the warp and the other as the weft. So why was this different method adopted?  Was it just for beauty? Was it just one more fashionable thing to make just because it could be done technically?

Apparently not.

It seems to be the result of a ruling that prohibited muslims from wearing any silk material on the skin.

So, in order to stay within this constraint and yet to be able to enjoy the qualities of silk,  a new construction technique was cleverly created in which the inner layer is made of cotton and the outer layer is made of silk.



And so this wonderful fabric came into being.

Created in bright vibrant colors, this fabric is now popular with all communities in the Western state of Gujarat, India and yardage can be found in most cloth stores in Gujarat.

This fabric was once popular in Persia as well and is one more poignant example of migration of memes. 

Here are two examples of old mashru – skirts from the Kutch region.

0 137 masaroo skirt_0 138 outer layer is silk or stin and inner layer is cottonVINTAGE-MASHRU-SKIRT-GHAGRAA--2VINTAGE-MASHRU-SKIRT-GHAGRAA--4

[From the wovensoulscollection]


July 2016



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