Silk - 22 denier mulberry silk from NSDC (National Silk Development Corporation),
80 percent pre-dyed Tussar silk yarn (produced naturally in forest areas with trees like Arjun, Saja and Sal).
Zari - from Chanderi or Surat.
Cotton - from south India.
Dyes - From Nagpur
Tools & Technology
Traditional pit loom - The loom was placed over a pit dug into the ground, so the weaver could sit on the edge of the pit which contains the pedals. The warp from the log is wound over another log. The threads are guided through metallic reeds till it reaches the 'Hattha' or frame which is used to beat in the weft threads. Screws on the loom beams are used to adjust the tension of the warp. One Dhurrie is normally made in a few hours.
Charkha - use to prepare bobbin.
Bobbin - from Nagpur
Reed - A reed is part of a loom and resembles a comb. It is used to push the weft yarn securely into place as it is woven, separates the threads and keeps them in their positions, keeping them untangled and guides the shuttle as it moves across the loom. It is bought from Nagpur.
Before beginning work for the day the weaver makes obeisance to his looms and implements, he may not touch them without having washed his face and hands, this is his way of paying respect to his workspace and equipments. Some superstitions also surround their practice; A woman must not approach the loom during her periodical impurity, and if anybody sneezes as work is about to be begun, they wait a little time to let the ill luck pass off. They believe that the posts to which the ends of the loom are fastened have magical powers, and if any one touches them with his leg he will get ulcers up to the knee.
Among some classes of Koshtis the killing of a cat is a very serious offence, almost equivalent to killing a cow. Even if a man touches a dead cat he has to give two feasts and be fully purified. The sanctity of the cat among Hindus is sometimes explained on the ground that it kills rats, which attract snakes into the house. But the real reason is probably that primitive people regard all domestic animals as sacred. The Koshti also reveres the dog and jackal.
Silk production : Silkworms are the larvae of the silkmoth. Tussar silk is produced from a species called Antheraeamylitta. Their wings are cut and the males and females are put in an earthen pot called Matka, to mate. They produce around 150 eggs. These are then sent for testing. The good ones are given to the farmers who, once they hatch, leave them onto the trees of Arjan or Saja. They change the tree onto which they are put, every 28 days. Three harvests are done in a year.
The cocoons on the tree are watched over all night by the farmers. The cocoons are made into garlands and stored during the monsoons. Once the mating is done, the male is separated from the female worm and can be used to for another 3-4 batches.
The silk threads are then extracted from the cocoons and this process is called Reeling. Charka and the reeling machine are used for this purpose. The silk obtained out of the reeling process is referred to as 'Raw Silk'. It is the silk reeled by drawing together the filaments from a number of cocoons (6-12) based on the thickness required for weaving sector. In the case of Matka silk, the discarded short fibers are handspun. Coarse silk fibers are obtained after they are twisted on the base of an inverted pot.
Preparing the loom: The yarn is bought from the government organization like MPHSVN at the ITI Centre in Waraseoni. The reeled yarn is taken out to an open area and wound onto the warp beam. Care is taken to keep the threads at regular intervals so as to not get them tangled. Sticks are also inserted at regular intervals to keep the tension and also have the threads spread evenly. These warp threads are then taken through the heddles and the reed. The craftsmen dust ash onto their hands to help pick the threads better. The weft threads are then wound around the bobbins using the charkha.
Weaving: The weaving is done on a traditional pit loom. Specific warp yarns are raised in the process called Shedding. The weft yarns are picked and passed through the shed using a shuttle. The picking movement propels the shuttle by pulling the handle to let the shuttle move across to the other side. In the process of beating, the weft is pulled and tightened. Different textures of hand woven cloths are produced by varying the count of the warp and weft threads, the order in which the warp threads are lifted, and varying density or tension of the yarn. The finished cloth is taken and rolled onto the beam and steps taken to release the tension. In a day, 3 meters of silk is woven and 5-6 meters of Chanderi or cotton can be woven.
Finishing : The fabric, if dyeing is needed, is sent to the skilled dyers. Designs are made according to the requirements. In some cases, Butis or motifs are inlayed in the body or the Pallu of the saree or fabric. The women also embroider intricate and colorful patterns onto fabric. Sometimes patterns are block printed onto fabric and for this; the fabric is sent to Champa. It is then roller pressed and given back to the government organization which then markets it.