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Primary Projects

Mubarakpur Weavers Village

Mubarakpur is situated about 80 km (50 miles) north of Varanasi on the river Tons. Several thousand skilled artisans still carry on the village's 400-year-old tradition of fine silk weaving.

The widespread fame of Mubarakpur's weavers had slowly disappeared over the last several decades, as they became increasingly dependent on middlemen who would market their products as "Benares silks." Poor infrastructure had cut off direct contact with markets, and lack of exposure had resulted in static design, colours and styles not always in accord with contemporary markets. Dependence on middlemen and lack of economic resources had led to lack of fine quality raw material, and, additionally, increasing competition from cheap power loom products had added to the problems.

The artisans, however, still hand-weave extremely beautiful silks. The skills, although endangered, remain very much alive. ITRHD realized that by enabling the artisans to access markets directly, and by adapting the distinctive traditional design elements for appeal to contemporary buyers, the situation could be greatly improved. This is a long-term initiative, but one that has already shown results. We have helped the weavers to access better quality raw materials, and designers are working with the weavers to develop new versions of traditional designs that appeal to contemporary markets, as well as to diversify into new product lines.

Starting in 2013, a number of the Mubarakpur weavers have participated in ITRHDs Azamgarh Festivals Azamgarh And Patiala Cultural Festivals in Delhi and Lucknow. Here they interact directly with customers, enjoy robust sales, and attract some large buyers. An indirect benefit of this process is that the artisans become acquainted with current market demands. In addition, we have arranged for several of the weavers to participate in the annual Surajkund Craft Mela. A number of other organisations also have now become interested and launched similar initiatives, so there is hope that Mubarakpur may indeed eventually reclaim the prominence it once enjoyed as a centre for extremely fine silk weaving.