On Saturday, February 1, 2020, Roger and Margaret Growe’s presented a multimedia program, introducing the GumCha weavers, shared examples of gumcha designs and discussed how we can help save this craft from disappearing as the cost of raw cotton increases. This program was presented in conjunction with the Southeast Fiber Arts Alliance. (selected Program images below)
For at least 2,500 years, artisan weavers from farming families in isolated communities of West Bengal (in a small northeastern section of Birbhum District, around the village of Kashimnagar, north of Kolkata near the Ganges River), India, have been producing an elegant and useful cotton cloth called a gumcha. Down through multiple generations, this simple 100% cotton cloth (usually 63”to 68”long and 25” to 28” wide) has been woven by hand on traditional looms to create one-of-a-kind pieces. In the rural agricultural communities, there are more than 3,000 farmer-weavers. Each weaving family has developed its own unique style. Today there are thousands of highly sophisticated, refined, and colorful patterns produced throughout the area. The gumcha is the original cotton scarf, towel, hat, skirt and “air conditioner.” It is a tool and a traditional gift. Made and sold locally, the gumcha can cost a working person his or her whole day’s wage.
The GumCha4Health Project was founded to bring this artisan craft to the USA. The project was developed as a partnership between two health-related nonprofit organizations, one in India and the other in the USA. The goal is simple: to triple the income of artisan weavers, provide a wider market for their craft, and support the public health programs that are being conducted in the rural villages of the area. https://gumcha4health.com/
Submitted by Gail Goodwin