Shamji Vishram Valji is a master weaver, designer and natural dyer based in Bhujodi village in Kuchchh, India. Shamji comes from a deep and rich artistic legacy. His father and his five brothers have won several awards between them and all have inherited a commitment and dedication to tradition. But while most of his crew's day is spent dyeing and weaving he also make time for design innovation. His weaving and dyeing unit employs 60 families from his village. Shamji has been recognized worldwide for his for exhibition quality textiles, but he still puts family traditions, technique and slow, careful skill first.
Weaving Process and Product Design
The weavers of Bhujodi are known for their special "extra-weft" weaving, creating patterns on shawls and blankets while the yarn is still on the loom. They have traditionally used pit looms, which they continue to use today. Patterns are created by physically lifting warp threads with their fingers and inserting the weft to create the design. The process is laborious and time consuming requiring great skill and patience.
For generations, Bhujodi weavers have woven shawls and blankets for use by local communities, primarily in a local wool known as "desi" wool. Shamji and his brothers have innovated over the years, creating stoles, saris, scarves, bed-covers and patterned yardage using this technique. They also use natural dyes and new materials like silk, cotton and merino wool, and and a variety of indigenous cotton known as "kala cotton".
Shamji works with a lot of designers, both in India and abroad, and continues to innovate his designs, a great example of innovation by an artisan, with designs and techniques rooted in tradition.
Shamji works with 60 weaver families, employing young weavers of the next generation.
In Bhujodi, weavers are mostly men. However, women are now beginning to weave using a local varietal of cotton - "kala cotton"
Even though women don't weave primarily, the weavers cannot function without the support of the women in their families. Their mothers, wives and sisters are all involved make the bobbins and form yarn hanks.