Updated: Aug 26, 2020
Jiske pehnne se badh jaati thi shaan nawabbon ki,
Aur khush ho jati thi ruuh,
Woh jab mausaqi aur junoon se tayyaar hota tha
Tha voh HIMROO aur MASHROO…
This little couplet written by Imran Qureshi aptly sums up his family’s 200-year old Himroo heritage. The Qureshi family was known all over the Hyderabadi Nizaamiyat for the opulent Himroo fabrics produced at their kaarkhaana in Aurangbad.
At its peak over 50 weavers toiled on their looms to create luxorious shervani fabric, shawls and scarfs. However, “toiled” might actually be the wrong word. Each weaver was a creator and loved his work. “I remember when I was a child I used to enjoy coming from school to learn weaving at the kaarkhaana”, Imran tells us. “The weavers always enjoyed what they did. Often someone would put on a qawwaali cassette and everyone would sing along as they worked. The entire atmosphere was one of celebration.”
Before Independence, the main patrons of Himroo were the nobles from the Nizam of Hyderabad’s court but Himroo’s popularity continued into the late 80s with film-stars like Dilip Kumar and noted politicians like Rajendra Prasad favoring it. “Once a wealthy businessman from Mumbai delayed an entire Air India flight as he was waiting for us to finish his shawl,” narrates Imran.
However, in the early 90s, the Qureshi Kaarkhaana began to suffer...
There were 2 main reasons for this, the competition from cheap powerloom fabrics of Banaras and the decline of Aurangabad as a tourist centre. Gradually, the looms started shutting down and eventually only 3 looms remained standing though in defunct condition. But Imran still prayed for a miracle. He meticulously saved swatches of every design ever produced by his family and their weavers. When the LoomKatha team met him in late 2018 on their quest for Himroo, we were amazed to see a repository of some of the most exquisite Himroo textiles. And so, began our journey of revival...
‘Through my interaction with Arushi and LoomKatha I was able to see that there will always be customers for genuine crafts. When they provided us with the pure cotton yarns and newer
colour combos plus also re-started 3 of our old jacquard looms, I thought of taking on an even more ambitious task--re-starting the PAAAGA or DRAWLOOM,” says Imran.
A Paaga Loom is the most complex type of handloom. It requires 2 people to operate it. Designs on a Paaga Loom have a complexity and range of colours that till date cannot be imitated by a mechanised powerloom.
“Just as we resumed weaving with one historic design—the floral motif worn by Dilip Kumar in Mugha-e-Azam—the pandemic struck. Again, it seemed like we were fighting a losing battle. But LoomKatha stepped in and through their program on Instagram ensured that we had a wait-list of orders for the next 3 months. The
idea that so many people believed in my work and were willing to wait for 3 to 6
months to receive my product really motivated me. We resumed weaving as soon as lockdown eased and have just completed our first batch of products. These designs have been woven after almost 30 years. I have also been working on creating the naqsha or graph for 3 new designs. My dream is to re-start 10 more looms and bring back the glory of Himroo that my forefathers worked for all their life.”
Imran’s Paaga Loom products are available on pre-order through LoomKatha.
Each product takes nearly 3 weeks to be woven. Browse the catalogue below and email us on firstname.lastname@example.org to place your order.