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Yarns of change

The Indian weaves have had many interpretations throughout the years, supported by an unsurpassed legacy of textiles and crafts. It has been a strong tool of revolution, empowerment and resistance for women, from bold political statements to small changes in more intimate spheres. As such, metaphoric inspirations were born from them, and the weaves became a site for the (re)articulation of "tradition". 

Gandhi loomMahatma Gandhi weaving cloth with charkha.

Kadhi: beyond a sartorial approach

Khadi has evolved beyond a piece of cloth to reflect a sense of freedom & self-reliance for an independent India. Started as part of the Swadeshi Movement by Mahatma Gandhi, who used clothing as a metaphor for unity, empowerment, and liberation from imperial subjugation, it was used to replace foreign materials and establish local industries: sartorial subversion carried to its most effective assertion

However, its significance changed and was reflected in the act of spinning and weaving,  becoming a symbol of independence. 

“Gandhi’s militant non-violent non-co-operation freed a quarter of the world from imperialism…He stripped imperialism of its romance and gold trim and revealed it as simple theft. He made it much easier for other countries to win their freedom.”states Peter Gonsalves in “Khadi: Gandhi’s Mega Symbol of Subversion”.

Women protesting freedom struggle
© National Gandhi Museum newspaper archives, New Delhi

During the freedom battle, the hand-spun saree stamped nationalistic intensity, characteristic of that time. Women followers and other associates of Gandhi wore their Khadi Sarees as shields representing self-sufficiency and self-reliance.

Few garments in the Indian closet are as multifaceted as the sari: from the freedom movement to political stances, the saree has been sewn with the threads of history and became a symbol for assertion in the hands different authority figures.

Saree: tales of politics

1 Response

Shamima Ali

Shamima Ali

May 13, 2023

So proud of Madina!! This again proves that women can do anything.
Thanks to Tilfi for sharing her inspiring story with us. Hope this will motivate many other women.

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