Madagascan Handwoven Scarves
Just over an hours drive outside the capital Antananarivo lies the town of Avironimamo which is little more than a collection of streets and fine red brick buildings constructed from the red earth of the surrounding countryside. I wasn’t there to admire the brick houses or the quaint surrounding countryside, but to find a family of weavers who makes scarves on a loom. Not even sure that I wanted to export clothes to sell on my craft stall, I was intrigued at the possibility of watching scarves made on a hand loom so when it was suggested I have a look at what they are doing I jumped at the chance.
The town itself is not difficult to find being on the main road west out of the capital but the people we were there to see proved a little more elusive and after numerous phone calls Minah, the matriarch of the family, eventually had to come and get us in the town square. A heavyset lady in here fifties with glasses and kind way about her she gave the taxi directions to where we were going, finally turning into a bumpy laneway where bushes scraped off the side of the car giving me the impression not many vehicles come this way.
On arrival at the house I was taken to the upstairs of the two storey brick building where the loom was in one room and upstairs bedroom in the other. I was still not sure I wanted any scarves until Minah started to run through some patterns she could do including different types of lemurs, Baobab trees as well as travellers palms which are the emblem of the national airline Air Madagascar. The more she spoke the more I thought Madagascan handwoven scarves would be a great addition to the stall, after all this is precisely the kind of thing that I have set out to sell. The scarves are handmade directly from the supplier and have a very interesting story about them.
Before I knew it Minah was in the seat of the loom and giving me a demonstration of how weaving on a loom works. The loom itself is about three metres in length and two metres wide. On the day I was there she had some black and white thread on the loom and was making a wrap around shawl for a women. I stood back and watched as she added strands to the new garment and I understood this is far from an easy process to make my these lovely Madagascan handmade scarves. Not only is it a complicated process to add the strands the user also has to make sure the pattern is being adhered to, otherwise the whole thing will come out looking very odd.
As she went on Minah gave me permission to take some photos and videos of her making this shall. While I strained to follow what she was doing as her hands seemed to be going in all kinds of directions to work the loom, she chatted nonchalantly to her daughter and grandson who had come up to see what was going on. While she was there, her daughter started to work on some other scarves which were nearing completion and knotted loose threads at the ends of them to make sure they don’t unravel.
After the demonstration I was delighted to order 50 Madagascan handwoven scarves which will be a proud addition to my stall with the hope I can work lots with Minah over the coming years.