“Himroo: The finest fabric of the Deccan” – Marco Polo
Himroo was a luxurious handwoven fabric made of silk and cotton such that the two sides of the fabric had a different colour. It was brought to Aurangabad in the reign ofMohammad bin Tughlaq, when he shifted his capital from Delhi to Daulatabad (Aurangabad). The word originated from Persian word Hum-ruh which means 'similar'. Himroo was actually the uniquely “Deccani” interpretation of the Persian “kinkhwab” fabric. It was borne out of the interaction of the Persian weavers with the local weavers of Paithan. Himroo designs are traditionally ornate in nature with paisleys, marigolds, vines and fruits being popular motifs.
The Need For Revival
Himroo is intrinsically linked to the glorious history of Auranagabad. Its one of the many jewels in Aurangabad’s history. However, in the late 1930s, himroo weavers suffered greatly due to the advent of cheap mill-made fabrics from Britain. So, some time before independence, a group of enterprising himroo weavers got together and created a fabric that was machine-made but incorporated the basic motifs of himroo. As a result, much of the original beauty and grace of the product was lost. While the “powerloom himroo” continues to thrive today, there is no trace to be found of the original product that would have a high demand in the luxury market (Similar to the pashmina of Kashmir).
Gradually in decline, it appears to have died out completely in the last 10 years as the remaining weavers are few and mainly weaving for display purposes at popular tourist sites. Revival of this art can provide livelihoods to the poor weavers, set up a market and make beautiful product available to the people. It keeps alive the tradition and handloom skills native to Aurangabad.
The challenge of this monumental revival project has been taken up by LoomKatha, generously supported by Can-Pack India Pvt Ltd, as part of its Social Responsibility project. LoomKatha has re-started 2 of the remaining handlooms still in usable condition in Aurangabad. An inter-disciplinary team of designers and social science fellows has been combing through historical books and speaking to diverse stake-holders to ascertain the best way forward. We are extremely grateful to Mr Imran Qureshi and his family for letting us access their bank of vintage Himroo textiles and sharing a wealth of information with us.
The team at the Himroo Revival Project by LoomKatha hope to have market-ready products in December 2019. However, it is a complex project given that the original yarns and loom constructions no longer exist and we need all the support we can get. Please follow our progress through our FB page here and do write to us if you would like to be involved: /firstname.lastname@example.org