The Imperfect Handloom Saree

A gentle lady in her mid-thirties came to our ‘Experience Centre’ a while ago. She loved a Tussar silk saree. As is the norm, we lovingly helped her drape it and admire herself in our King sized mirror before she decided on her final purchase. 

She loved the colour. She loved the fall of the fabric. However, she noticed small knots at two places and showed her apprehension. As always I explained with a smile that since it is a handloom saree, such knots and slubs are common. In fact, it was a mark of a true handloom saree.  

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Pure Handwoven Linen Saree

Frankly speaking I do not know if she was truly convinced with my explanation, though she did buy the saree eventually.

In reality, there are two types of saree lovers mostly. 

  • Those who love, respect, and understand handloom sarees and its worth
  • Those for whom handloom or powerloom makes no difference. The saree has to be attractive and cheap 

The first type are a dream to engage with. Discussing a weave here, exchanging gyan on a fabric, talking about motifs and traditional designs over our now famous filter coffee.

The other type are well, the more difficult to please since all efforts go in convincing that it is truly a handcrafted, handmade saree over weeks and months of the artisan at the loom. The artisan who is now part of our journey or rather we are part of his journey.  Of course, the knots need to be explained too.

I genuinely enjoy these extended chats, in my effort to popularize the quintessential handloom saree. 

Types of Defects in a Handloom Saree

The so called ‘defect’ in a handwoven saree could either be a yarn or a weaving defect. 

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Weaving Perfection Out of Imperfection

Yarn Defect

These are defects that happen either during the spinning stage or what is called the winding stage. 

  • Sometimes the individual filaments get broken in the main yarn. These are called broken filaments.

  • The small knots you often see occur when broken threads are pieced together by improper knotting.

  • When a bunch of fibers are twisted more or less than the normal spun yarn then if forms a slub. 

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Imperfections Like These is What Makes it a Handloom Saree

Weaving Defect

The other type could be a weaving defect. That is after the yarn is ready and put on the loom, some ‘human’ mistakes happen. 

  •  When a bunch of broken ends are woven into the fabric they are lead to Broken Ends.
  • When the weaver despite his precision and sincere work improperly interlaces the warp and weft threads in the fabric over a certain area, it is called a Flout
  • The dear weaver, our Indian artisan remember is working in the open or in a room but much closer to nature. Wind blows, and lets say a foregin matter like lint or some waste falls on the loom fabric! Well, it accidentally gets woven too and is called a Gout.
  • Oil and Other Stain happen. You would wonder why? If you were to see the conditions where the weavers work it would answer this question. In the bylanes of Banaras or Chanderi, the weavers have their addas within dark dingy rooms that are both their homes and workplace. The children are playing around, the kitchen is right there, all action happening in that small little room. So yes, the imperfection of this saree could be an oil, rust, grease or other strain in the fabric. 
  • Hole, Cut or Tear is self explanatory.

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Do these small mistakes and imperfections make the 6 yard drape any less attractive or tempting?

Lavendar Jamdani Buta Handloom Saree

I often wonder, when let's say we paint a canvas, is it perfect? When we cook that perfect meal, is it really perfect? Or that embroidery we tried our hand at? Is that perfect? 

We however, pine for compliments. We give excuses why it is not perfect. We are upset when others do not appreciate the time and effort we put into it. 

To simply put, if you feel the painting or the DIY project you (hand) made can never compare a finished product from the market, you might not argue about the ‘tuk’ or knot or broken filament on your next purchase of a genuine handloom saree.

Working towards a day when the word imperfection shall be stopped using with the word Handloom.

ALSO READ: How to Preserve Your Handloom Saree

Till the next post...

Pallavi Rao Narvekar


  • Deepika

    Thanks for sharing such useful information. It will be beneficial to me for knowing more about handloom Sarees.

  • Katherine Otto

    Even though I’m not Indian I am fascinated by Handloom. Indian saree and Handloom fabrics are all in my wardrobe. Long may the Handloom industry continue! The weavers are geniuses in my eyes and need to be paid appropriately.

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