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
, 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.