Kullu Shawls
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History of Kullu Shawls

During the pre-independence era clothes from industrialized regions couldn't reach the valley due to lack of transportation facilities. As Kullu Valley falls under temperate Himalayan region, the cold climate prevalent is suitable for sheep and goat rearing, which also fulfills the necessity for woolens.

Initially the people of Kullu used to weave Patti which is 18'', 20'' or 22'' wide, and having an appropriate length. They wove it to fulfill the bare necessity of covering their body and protecting themselves of severe cold. Menfolk wove Patti for coats and suthan (pyjamas) and women used it as Pattus for themselves. Men also made caps out of Patti, which was originally, woven in natural colors of wool i.e. black, white and grey.

Until 1936 pattus were made on the pitloom, but after that handlooms came into way, this probably happened because of British influence. When weavers from Bushehar (Shimla) came to the valley in early 1940's their craft influenced the people of Kullu Valley. The weavers of Bushehar were acquainted with the geometrical designs, which they successfully used on Pattus.

In 1942 when Indian film star Devika Rani, daughter-in-law of famous Russian painter Nicholas Roerich , came to Kullu. She took a zealous interest in the looms and it was at her request that Sh. Sheru Ram of Banontar village fashioned the earliest urban size shawl (72" x 36"). On being inspired from Mr. Sheru Ram, Pt. Urvi Dhar started manufacturing shawls commercially.

The advent of synthetic threads in Kullu too dates back to 1940's when Busheheras came to the valley. As there weren't any spinning mills in the valley, weavers started importing yarn from Ludhiana (Punjab) and used them in pattus and shawls. Most of these are being imported even today.

In 1957 Kullu Shawl Improvement Center opened up in the valley and Mr. Devi Prakash Sharma joined there as a technician. He developed diverse designs, visited the various co-operative societies and individual weavers and gave them new designs.

With time shawls are now being manufactured in a wide variety of patterns and the use of vegetable dyes, which augment an exotic array of subdued colors in apricots, ochre, rusts, browns, olives and many more, is in vogue.

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