The history of the iconic Maheshwar sari is built upon innovation and the cross fertilisation of ideas. The tradition of weaving in this ancient temple town dates back to the 5th century. However, weaving only truly flourished during the reign of Maratha Queen Ahilyabhai Holkar in the 18th century. Ahilyabhai invited master weavers from Surat as well as South India to Maheshwar, in order for them to work together. Through this collaborative process the weavers created an exquisite new hybrid of gossamer-fine handloom that to this day remains iconic of this small town in central India.
In continuity with this rich cultural history, WomenWeave’s Synergy Programme supports design and marketing assistance for traditional weavers and hand block printers. This ongoing programme encourages exciting new working relationships amongst weavers, block-printers, dyers, designers, and retailers from across India. This helps the artisans to meet consumers’ desires for innovative fabrics, especially in the higher-end fashion segments.
WomenWeave impacts traditional weavers of Maheshwar and Chanderi in Madhya Pradesh and Kota in Rajasthan. WomenWeave also has an informal partnership with NGO's promoting handloom in several states of India for design and marketing of a variety of weaves.