Our village, located in the Karmala Taluka of Solapur district, Maharashtra, houses approximately 585 Dhangar families. The village is a home to the Dhangar community who has been making the traditional woollen blanket for centuries to date. Dhangars generally dispersed all across India, have settled mostly in the rural areas in the western parts of Maharashtra. Dhangar community in the village has strongly preserved and nourished their blanket making art through ages.
About Ghongadi Blankets
Ghongadi is a traditional woollen blanket made in Maharashtra, India. These age-old traditional blankets are made on Pit-Loom and dyed with organic and natural dyes.
Ghongadi is revered as a holy blanket and is used in all the holy rituals and community functions of the villages, thus holding cultural significance in the Maharashtra state.
In addition to its religious beliefs, Ghongadi has proven to help acupressure and adequate blood flow to the body. Nomads and shepherds in southern Maharashtra rest on them in an acute backache and consider it to be a great remedy. Ghongadi blankets are usually rough and heavy, mostly used by shepherds and farmers in the olden days. Blanket making is a long process involving the various number of procedures for its final product to be ready.
About this Initiative
Due to illiteracy and insufficient exposure, the artisans stuck to their age-old methods and failed to adopt the new technologies in the art of weaving that reflected in failing optimization of craft making processes with time.
A large amount of time was needed in making Ghongadi which decreased its production and in turn affected the use of Ghongadi blankets which eventually led to its fading away. The artisans scattered across the state Maharashtra gradually stopped the art of ghongadi making, losing their ties with the inherited art and shifted towards manual labour.
Today, there are only a handful of artisans of the last generation left who have preserved the art and still continue to make these blankets with the traditional method. Their only source of income is weaving and due to its decreasing value, they are being forced towards unemployment in their late 40’s.
Not having enough resources, these uneducated and unaware artisans lack in creating sustainable supply channels for the demands outside local areas.