Primitive hand looms, dating back to 5000 to 6000 years B.C., were traditionally used by sinking the frame into the ground and operating it with both feet. These looms, typically made of bamboo, involve manual threading of the weft to interlace with the warp ends. They are still employed today in North-East India, particularly for weaving silk pieces, sarees, and other textiles such as the renowned Mekhla Chadar. Additionally, vertical looms, woolen blanket looms, durries looms, and tape looms fall under this category of hand-threaded weaving techniques.
Portable Naga Loin Loom/ Backstrap Loom
The loin loom, also known as the back strap loom, is the oldest and simplest device used in cloth weaving. Widely used by tribes in Nagaland and Mizoram, this portable loom is adjusted to the weaver’s body, enabling manual weaving without mechanical adjustments. It is predominantly practiced by women, serving as their main source of income. The resulting woven fabric, with its ribbed texture, is stitched together to create traditional garments like the “Puans” in Mizoram, showcasing intricate designs and motifs.
Khwang Loin loom of Manipur
The khwang (loin loom) is widely used in Manipur. The khwang loom (loin loom) has traditionally been used to make all phanek mayek naibi – the traditional sarong worn by Meitei women in Manipur as well as other shawls.
Small Looms used in Kullu Weaves of himachal pradesh
Kullu shawls are known for their plain body in basic weaves bordered with bold, colorful patterns. Apart from these, other commonly woven products are the thick pattu /lois or the narrow colorful borders, ‘patti’. Narrow strips or ‘pattis’ are woven on small looms. These decorative strips are stitched as borders on shawls, bags, the famous Himachali cap, or on any other small product.
A small, narrow low-standing loom is made specially to weave these strips. They are casually housed in verandas of weaver’s homes and are used while sitting on the floor. Many rolls of woven strips await stitching onto larger fabrics, dresses or caps. Sometimes they are even used to attach to tote bags.
The Pit loom is a loom situated on the ground/floor with a pit having two peddles set in the pit for the weaver to operate. Pit loom weaving is considered to be better weaving as the fabric woven retains the character of the fiber and fabric due to the proximity to the ground. The ground absorbs the tension and speed and makes the fabric more breathable. Two types of Pit Looms are in operation. One is a throw-shuttle pit loom and another is a fly-shuttle pit loom. Pit looms are better to weave Silk Fabric. It is very popular and mostly seen in Odisha, Varanasi (UP) and in South India.
Frame looms (fly shuttle) almost have similar mechanisms that ground looms hold. The loom was made of rods and panels fastened at the right angles to construct a form similar to a box to make it more handy and manageable. Frame looms are useful for production of designed fabrics like bedsheets, heavy furnishings, towels, dress material, striped and check material, bed covers, gauze cloth, etc. as in Kerala, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Assam, etc. Also woven on the frame loom are ordinary saris with plain border, saris with extra warp and cross border designs.