In our last week’s blog, we spoke about the different kinds of looms. This week’s blog focuses on getting to know about the Jacquard looms
A loom is designed to hold two sets of threads – The flat parallel threads are called the warp. The weaving process is complete when the other set of threads – the weft – is interlaced with the warp. This kind of handloom is well suited to weaving plain fabrics.
So if we need to weave “decorated" fabrics and patterns, the loom should allow raising and lowering of individual warp threads in addition to the insertion of weft threads at the appropriate place to create a specific design. The jacquard machine, a device fitted to a loom simplified the process of manufacturing textiles with complex patterns. Kanchipuram and Arani in Tamilnadu are well known for their overall jacquard designs with zari brocades or thread designs.
The name jacquard is credited to the French inventor, Joseph Marie Jacquard, who created the world's first automatic machine for weaving elaborate and beautiful images into silk. Invented in 1804, this machine controlled the loom by a "chain of cards" – with numerous punched cards laced together into a continuous sequence. A special control box situated above the loom controlled the cards through hooks fastened to cords, which in turn mechanised the process of raising the warp yarns.
Watch this video to understand how a jacquard design in incorporated into weaving.
The life like woven portrait contains 24000 rows of weaving. Every single row was controlled by this early nineteenth-century programming device - a punched card. These 24000 cards gave the loom precise instructions for weaving the portrait. These punched cards lie at the heart of Jacquard's brilliant concept of an automatic loom that weaves complex patterns and images.
This picture is a portrait of the inventor, Joseph Marie Jacquard, woven in silk. The portrait was deliberately designed on a jacquard loom itself to illustrate the loom’s complex capabilities.
Picture credit – German museum of technology, Berlin
Video credit - Jacquard weaving, Victoria & Albert Museum