Our Name and History
Our name, Jhoole, pronounced “Ju-lay”, means “swings” in Hindi and is inspired by the monsoon season. The village population in the Maheshwar region rejoices with the arrival of the monsoons: the searing, unbearable heat of the summer is cooled by thick layers of clouds and the desolate landscape is quickly transformed into a fecund river valley. During this time swings are tied onto massive trees throughout the area. People of all ages enjoy swinging in the newly rejuvenated air. Swinging is a way of celebrating the transformation in the atmosphere; it is a tradition that typifies the spirit of this rural area.
Our garments, inspired by the beauty of Maheshwari craftsmanship and culture, give reason to celebrate: like the monsoons, they provide a means of relief and rejuvenation. Our profits not only benefit artisans, but also fund projects that help the Maheshwar community at large.
In 2008 Hannah Warren departed for Maheshwar to create portraits of female weavers wearing sarees they had woven themselves. Her project was going to be more difficult than she had previously thought: she was shocked to learn that despite having such an impressive skill, none of the weavers she met had ever owned, or even worn, one of their beautiful, hand-woven creations.
Typically, weavers in Maheshwar cannot afford to purchase the fine silk threads that go into the sarees that they weave. This means that they are reliant on middlemen to provide them with raw materials that they transform into finished sarees for minimal wages.
Hannah gave the weavers in her photography project funds to purchase raw materials so that they could design and weave gorgeous sarees for themselves; they all agreed that it was the first time they saw weaving as an art form rather than menial labor. The results of that original photography can be seen by clicking on the link above.
Seeing the emotional impact of such a simple act inspired Hannah to collaborate with a grassroots nonprofit organization, Chetanya Sewa Sansthan, to work with weavers and start Jhoole, a nonprofit to help artisans attain economic independence.
Jhoole has been hard at work in Maheshwar for over five years and is dedicated to seeing tangible, deep and lasting change in this community over time.