Formally registered in 1944, the Bhutti Weavers Co-operative Society (more popularly known by its trademark Bhuttico) is a respected name both among its nation wide fraternity of co-operative societies and the artisan coterie. For over half a century, this collective of weavers has contributed immensely to the growth of Kullu’s hand loom industry with a hallmark range in authentic traditional garments – and in the process not only ensured the survival of the ancient art and the livelihood of its artisans as a responsible custodian, but also proved the ‘co-operative model of enterprise’ for handicrafts to be a workable success, inspite the dominance of the power loom sector.
Originally a small group of weavers who banded together out of necessity to make ends meet, Bhuttico has gradually developed over the years into a dynamic organization that besides production of traditional garments now schools new generations in the art of weaving and awards exemplary performances in multiple disciplines. The weaving society is acknowledged to be the pioneer that turned household weaving into a full time profession and for introducing the Kullu Shawl – a product that earned it national fame and continues to its forte.
Carrying on the legacy of its president Ved Ram Thakur, a second generation of enterprising weavers, sit for a group photo. Sourced: Kumar Studios, Bhuntar, Himachal Pradesh, India.
In 2015 the weaving community was an ‘A’ class society (a ranking it has maintained continuously for the last thirty odd years- visible in its logo) and at the forefront of Kullu’s hand loom industry with its 675 weavers and 25 master weavers having produced an output exceeding 1, 25,000 garments and net sales of 13 crores. The society also holds an ISO 9001: 2008 certificate for quality practices conforming to international standards and markets its products via thirty one outlets under its own trademark, exhibitions and exports to countries such as: Belgium, France, Great Britain, Russia, Japan, China, Spain and the USA.
Present day Bhuttico is not only a leading producer but an inspiration (for artisans across India) with its unwavering focus on weaver welfare and safeguarding their craft.
Awards and recognition.
National Award Gold, Udyog Ratna Award, Cooperative Excellency Award, Yeoman Service & Leadership Textile Industry.
Smt. Prem Lata Thakur, Chairperson Bhuttico (right) receiving the National Award Gold from the Ministry of Textiles, 1993-94. Photo sourced from the book: Yugdrashta Karamyogi published by Bhuttico.
Bhuttico’s caliber has been recognized both by customers and governing authorities such as the Indian Ministry of Textiles that after an unannounced examination of its endeavors honored it with a National Award Gold in 1993. The PHD chamber of Commerce and Industry, that bestowed upon it the Udyog Ratna Award (conferred by Virbhadra Singh – the Honorable Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, India) for its role in social economic development in 2005. The National Co-operative Development Corporation (under the Ministry of textiles), that merited it with a Cooperative Excellency Award for its performance in the co-operative sector in 2009. And the Yeoman Service and Leadership Textile Industry NISTII-IIT, 2009.
Garment range by Bhuttico.
A mix of both traditional and modern garments ranging from Kullu shawls to caps, mufflers, jackets and pattus.
Shawls with different designer patterns cover the counter of a Bhuttico showroom. The Kullu shawl is one of the society’s flagship garments and was introduced by Ved ram Thakur – a man responsible for building the society.
Bhuttico is a leading producer of high quality traditional Kullvi garments particularly the now GI patented Kullu Shawl (introduced by its president Ved Ram Thakur in 1950s). Its collection beside this flagship product includes: The ‘Doru’ and ‘Pattu’ (traditional Himachali women’s wear). Handwoven Kullu caps. Stoles (lighter version of Shawls but equally masterfully done). Mufflers (with Himachali decorative patterns). Bright and floral patterned scarves (a traditional women’s wear). Lohis (shawls for men in somber colors). Pullas (a type of footwear made from grass – defined by some websites as slippers). Woolen Socks (the Himachali variety). Woolen gloves, ponchos and a ready made series of trendy woolen shirts, coats, fancy jacket, sleeveless Nehru jackets, ties ( emblazoned with traditional patterns), woolen handbags and tweed meterage.
Label of authenticity.
Handloom mark and GI patent tag attesting genuine products.
Product labels attached to a shawl makes it easy to identify a genuine Bhuttico quality product. The handloom mark (left bottom) and woolmark symbol (top) testify to its handcrafted specialty and use of pure wool.
Garments and accessories produced by Bhuttico are handmade and loom weaved to showcase the skills of artisans and their ancient craft. Pricing is uniform at all outlets and set accordingly to cover the cost of production and justify the skill and labor of its weaver. Revenues earned go towards the welfare of its weaver community and general development of the society. All Bhuttico products are labeled with the Development Commissioner for Handloom’s ‘Handloom Mark’ testifying its handcrafted specialty. (learn more about the symbol and what it stands for in the Hindu article: The mark of exclusivity).
Wool used by Bhuttico.
Pure Pashmina, Merino, Angora and local sheep wool as well as blends.
Rolls of colored woolen threads occupy shelves inside a storage room at Bhuttico. The transformation of yarn to threads take place within the production facility itself.
Making predominant use of a historic material: For centuries wool has been a staple material used by weavers in the valley and continues to be utilized by the society in its purest form both for its traditional appeal and warmth. The raw material is procured from the Pashmina goat found in the high terrains of Ladakh, the Merino sheep in Australia, the Angora rabbit and the local sheep (used for its tweed garments).
Bhuttico purchases the wool in bulk from certified providers and mills as per its own specifications, checks it for quality within its in-house lab testing facility (performing up to 12 separate different test including micron diameter measurement, tensile length and strength, yarn twist and color fastness), then parcels the sample to Wool Mark for final analysis and the certificate of the 100% pure wool mark – that can be found on its products. Bends include: Pure Angora and Pashmina as well as Pashmina and Merino.
Bhuttico’s style of weaving.
Traditional technique: Hand made and loom weaved.
The society provides 200 frame looms for its weaver community to engage in their craft at its production facility as well as has its disposal another 500 used by households working on a part time basis.
Bhuttico begins its production process by first transforming the wool from its raw yarn stage to threads then into large measured rolls for weaving out a specified number of garments on industrial scale. Combining, spinning and other activities required for the transformation takes place within its production facility and is handled by its own members.
Weavers are educated and trained in the art of weaving and gradually entrusted with complex garments as befitting their level of expertise. The artisans emulate designs and patterns provided for in what many of the community’s weavers call the graph – a weaving bible filled with heritage patterns and designs. The woven products are examined by supervisors before passing it down the line for further treatment such as finishing, washing and ironing before display in retail outlets.
Frame looms are predominately used by the society to produce its crop of garments from mufflers to shawls. As well as smaller border weaving looms. Pullas (grass slippers) are completely hand crafted while caps and jackets are first produced on looms then hand stitched.
Where to buy Bhuttico garments.
Shop from thirty three outlets present in Himachal, Mussoori, Delhi or online.
Shawls on display at the Bhuttico showroom in Bhuntar, Himachal Pradesh, India. Availability of garments varies from outlet to outlet.
The weaving society showcases its produced garments in thirty three outlets under its trademark name Bhuttico (a majority of which is present in Himachal Pradesh, India). Availability of garments at the outlets depend on in-house stock and market preference prevailing in the area . For garments not on display, interested customers can place in their orders for them to be procured within two or three days. Garments once sold are not refunded but can be replaced with other garments or the same within the price range. The outlets are open from 9 am to 7 pm in winters and 9 am to 8 pm in summers.
The main showroom of the weaving community is located right on the National Highway 21 at Bhutti Colony, Industrial Area, in Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India. The showroom occupies the ground floor and constitutes a part of the Bhutti complex that holds the production facilities and corporate offices (right above). Visitors interested in shopping here, will need to take the old National Highway 21 when coming in from the plains instead of the Kullu-Manali bypass road. The showroom is visible from the road.
Other Bhuttico customer interaction points in Himachal can be found in the towns of: Bhuntar (and within the airport located at Bhuntar), Kullu, Manali, Manikaran, Banjar, Kelong, Mandi, Bojpur (Sunder Nagar), Ghumarwin, Palampur, Dharamsala (Cantt. road), Hamirpur, Bodh Nupur (Kangra), Dalhousie, Shimla (lower bazzar), Paonta Sahib (district Sirmour), Naina Devi (Bilaspur), Bathu District (Una) and Solan.
Customer interaction points in other parts of the country include: Mussoorie and Delhi (Shop Number 138, August Kranti Bhawan Number 138, Bhikaji Cama Place).
Online purchase: Bhuttico also lets buyers purchase garments online from the Bhuttico website: Bhutticoshawl.com. Buyers need to pay the required amount in advance when shopping and can currently choose from four payment modes available on the website’s payment options page. Delivery is done by courier but restricted to locales within the country at the moment.
Learn more about Bhuttico.
Roots of the co-operative society.
The 6 acres Bhutti colony provides housing facilities at nominal rent with free water supply and security for several members of its weaving community. The society’s intention is to take care of all required needs so artisans can concentrate better on their craft.
A story that begun in 1940: Bhuttico owes its origin to twelve impoverished Kullu weavers who banded together sometime in the 1940s in an isolated little village known as Bhutti (near Lug Valley, Himachal Pradesh, India) in an attempt to make ends meet producing the traditional woman’s dress the ‘Doru’ and ‘Pattu’. In 1944, this union of weavers was formally registered as the Bhutti Weavers Co-operative Society by the registrar of the co-operative society Punjab, Lahore (pre independent British India) for a total sum of twenty three rupees. It was one among the earliest co-operative societies in the entire valley.
The impetus for its growth, however, came about eleven years later in 1956 with Ved Ram Thakur, now honored as the soul of weaving society. Ved Ram, a master weaver of his time was a good samaritan with a vision to benefit not just his weaver brethren but the people of this mountainous part of the Himalayas. On the advice of one Sardar Gurcharan Singh (Director Registrar of Co-operative societies, Government of India), a government official building momentum for the co-operative movement in the area at that time, he merged his own thriving weaving unit known as Kullu Shawl Industries with the docile society (many of its founders having left by this time) and committed his resources and energy to its growth.
Till his quietus in 1971, Ved Ram Thakur had sowed in the foundation and laid out many of the principles that evolved the society to its present day status, en route turning it into a leading producer of traditional garments. Bhuttico was first located within the town of Kullu, before shifting base to the industrial area in Shamshi – where the present day colony stands (built in the 1960s).
A sprawling orchard with different varieties of fruit producing trees grow at the colony’s backyard. It brings in additional revenue and provides employment to caretakers. The colony also has its own water treatment plant, elementary school for children, a clinic and veterinary dispensary.
Welfare of weavers and their craft: The society annually produces the highest percentage of garments in Kullu’s hand loom sector with net sales that has grown to exceed Rupees 13 crores, yet its primary objective behind earning profits has never been wealth accumulation. Under its co-operative mold, the society works towards the development of its weaver community, funneling earned revenues towards their welfare, the survival of the ancient craft of weaving and the general growth of its community’s endeavors.
As an organization founded and managed by weavers, Bhuttico provides its weaving community with numerous benefits starting from medical insurance extended to accommodations and a flexible pay structure. The six acres Bhuttico compound provides housing facilities to many of its resident weavers at nominal rent with free water supply and home security. The compound also includes within its premise a gym, water treatment plant and an orchard (to bring in additional revenues and provide employment to members as caretakers). Not long in the past, the society donated land to the government for an elementary school, an Ayurvedic dispensary, and a veterinary clinic for livestock (many of its weavers own their own cattle and work on the looms on a part time basis).
Support is extended to the children of the community as well – with the society sponsoring and funding promising youngsters for higher education in reputed institutes such as for the 3 year diploma course at the Indian institute of hand loom technology. Currently the society provides livelihood to 1000 weaver households with several members of the same family working within its fold.
A factory room at Bhuttico’s production facility bristles with both old and new equipment. The society is particular in its technology upgrades.
Training of weavers: Bhuttico’s production facility is a professionally managed installation that provides its resident weavers with 200 looms maintained at its own expense to flourish their art without having to invest in their own work stations. Aspirants of all ages are accepted into the ranks, then trained, educated and provided with life long career with the society. The training process is a holistic one and seeks to develop an individual into an expert weaver skilled in producing all kinds of garments.
Novices are groomed as per prescribed syllabus and under supervision of experienced weavers known within the society as trainer masters to acquire knowledge and skills of every nuance related to their craft from binding and border work to weaving mufflers, socks and complex garments such as the Kinnauri Shawls. During the learning process, the initiates are provided with a stipend while qualified weavers are paid for every finished product that makes it through the quality checks – a system that lets industrious individuals double their earnings and get promoted up the ranks on the basis of merit, in some cases to the position of experienced master weavers, board of directors and other key positions.
The wool testing laboratory at Bhutti colony was incorporated in the late 90s to reinforce the society’s quality standards. Upto 12 different tests are performed on procured wool including sample test by Woolmark at its own testing facilities.
Industrial training and technology upgrade: Another important aspect of the society’s commitment to weaver welfare and keeping up the quality of its produced garments is its investment in periodic technology upgrades and industrial training.
Weaving is a laborious process and time consuming. To reduce work time and additional labor that sometimes emerges due to work related errors and has to be rectified, the society introduced several technological upgrades like pick up motion – a term it uses to define a process that makes interlacing of woolen threads more precise and time saving. Other technological improvements till date include upgrades from old pit looms to hand loom and shuttle looms (frame looms). The weaving is still very much done in the traditional way on the upgraded devices to retain its traditional charm.
Bhuttico regularly sends its trainees, staff and key officers for industrial training to keep abreast of the latest trends in production, marketing and administration such as the Regional Institute of Cooperative Management, Topic ( an institute of the National Cooperative Development Corporation training personnel in cooperative management), the Vaikunth Mehta Post Graduate Institute in Pune (for post graduate diploma courses), the Lal Bhadur Shastri Academy in Mussorie (under the National Hand loom development corporation for refresher courses in administration) and for Post Graduate Diploma courses in management from other reputed institutes.
Flanked by Satya Prakash Thakur, Chairman Bhuttico (left) and award recipient Ashwani Sharma of Indian Express, Shimla (right), chief guest JR. Thakur, a former assistant director of CSK H.P. Agriculture holds stage at the Bhuttico award ceremony held on April 21st, 2015. The event witnessed thirteen nominees honored by the society as role models for exemplary endeavors, amidst a mixed crowd of invited press members, photographers and other guests.
Honoring inspiration. Awarding excellence: Since 1997 Bhuttico has sought to recognize excellence in multiple disciplines with four self-initiated awards named after eminent personalities of the Kullu valley. Among which, the Ved Ram Thakur National Award is bestowed for exemplary work in literature, handicraft, hand loom, cooperative work and journalism (both electronic and print medium). The Lal Chand Prarthi National Award for outstanding contribution in Paharai language art, culture and history (Lal Chand was a cabinet minister and noted patron of Pahari culture and art, see Hill Post article: Tribute to Lal Chand Prarthi). The Purohit Chander Shekhar Bebas Samriti National Award for meritorious performance in Himachali art and literature (Purohit Chander Shekhar was an award winning writer noted for his work on the cultural and religious history of Kullu, see Tribune extract: Literature dead) and the Thakur Malu Ram Award for lifetime achievement in literature and hand loom (Thakur Malu Ram is a retired director of languages and noted writer in the Kullvi language).
Bhuttico not only relies on its sources and the aid of the government to search out deserving nominees but also leaves it open for candidates to submit their own nominations to be considered by an eminent panel of jury. The National award nominees are selected from across the country while the award ceremony takes place each year on April 21 – the birth anniversary of the society’s benefactor and president, Ved Ram Thakur (see the Tribune release for the recent award ceremony: Many get Thakur Ved Ram Awards 2014-15). On this day, Bhuttico members too are duly recognized for their performance and contributions to the society with in-house prizes.
Prominent Members of Bhuttico.
Ved Ram Thakur, President (1956-1971). Satya Prakash Thakur, Chairman (present).
Ved ram Thakur (right) with a four year old Satya Prakash Thakur. Photo sourced from the book on Ved ram Thakur titled Yugdrashta Karmayogi, published by Bhuttico.
Ved Ram Thakur, President (1956-1971): Much of Bhuttico’s present day success is attributed to Ved Ram Thakur – an enterprising industrialist and master weaver of his time. Born in an impecunious family in 1921, Ved Ram spent his early adult years fortifying his knowledge of weaving with a one year diploma course from the industrial school in Kullu, acquiring mastery in the art of Bushar style woolcraft (a craft reputed for its weaving refinement), and gaining hands on experience working with weaving units of the day.
Ved Ram is said to have publicly expressed his intention of providing 100 weaver families with a stable source of income, and one he accomplished during his lifetime – after merging his own thriving venture Kullu Shawl Industries with the dormant co-operative society. He is also credited for transforming weaving (a seasonal and household occupation in the valley) into a full time profession and introducing the Kullu Shawl upon the realization customers of his day were more inclined towards buying shawls than the traditional ‘Doru’ and ‘Pattu’ (traditional Himachali women’s dress). The modified invention was not only more economical than its higher end Kinnauri counterpart but reduced work time and increased production, enabling the society to hold its own against the flood of power loom manufactured garments.
Ved Ram Thakur remains a respected personality within the valley, especially among its weaver population. In honor of his pioneering efforts and vision, the society published a trilogy titled ‘Yugdrashta Karmayogi’, ‘Durdarshi Avam Bhuttico Ki Atma’ and ‘Samarpan’ (all three books authored/edited by Dr. Surat Thakur) in recent times. Bhuttico’s current training philosophy that aims at the holistic development of its weavers is also inspired by his zeal to be acquainted with every aspect of the weaving craft.
Satya Prakash Thakur (left) present chairman of the Bhutti Weavers Co-operative Society. Photo sourced: Bhuttico.
Satya Prakash Thakur, Chairman: In 1971, age 23, Satya Prakash Thakur, fresh out of law school picked up the reigns of the society after the demise of his father Ved Ram Thakur. As the eldest son of the man who played an instrumental role in reviving the weaver community, Satya Prakash Thakur accepted the responsibility of providing for the livelihood of weavers attached with the society and to continue steering it forward through several major obstacles that lay ahead. His tenure continues to witness developments in all spheres from growth in number of weaver families, to technological improvements, expansion of showrooms, export of Bhuttico products to foreign shores, and implementations of several new initiatives for the welfare of the community’s weavers.
Satya Prakash Thakur also served as minister for horticulture and country town planning (Himachal Pradesh, India) from 1993-97, a period during which the responsibility of overseeing the administration of the society was entrusted to his wife, Smt. Prem Lata Thakur. In a press article, Satya Prakash Thakur once explained, a co-operative society is not about working together but an arrangement where every member pools in a small amount of share capital and contributes his or her share of work with honesty, skills, and an awakened sense of responsibility (see the full press release on the Divya Himachal website: Exemplary Co-operative Movement).
An outspoken advocate for artisans (specially weavers) and their craft on a national level, Satya Prakash Thakur (along with Bhrama Swroop Thakur, former managing director of Bhuttico and Dr. Kamal Kishore of Kullu Karishma) played an influential role in patenting the Kullu Shawl (a distinct garment of Kullu) as a GI product for the benefit of all producers in the valley. The GI patent was to safeguard the interests of Kullu weavers and their livelihood against non-Himachali manufacturers who were duplicating the traditional patterns, notably on power looms and mills. Satya Prakash Thakur was member of the All India Handloom Board on two separate occasions.
The co-operative society operates as a small industrial organization with its own governing board, marketing teams and administration personnel handling the day to day management affairs and endeavors.
Current general manager and secretary, Ramesh Kumar Thakur.
Ramesh Kumar Thakur, Chief General Manager/Secretary (current): For Ramesh Thakur, Bhuttico is both home and workplace. As a child he grew up at the colony within the present day compound, attended college, then begun his now thirty year association with the society – starting out as a salesman then gradually working his up to the position of Chief General Manager on merit and experience. Ramesh Thakur looks after the day to day workings of the society including overseeing the departments of production, marketing, administration and accounts, travels frequently on business, organizing and supervising exhibitions. He can be reached on the Bhuttico land line number, the official Bhuttico email or his mobile: (+91) 9418060218.
From 1944 Bhuttico has seen nine General Managers in office, and has 12 board members and 11 key officials delegated to supervise its various departments besides front desk attendants at outlets, staff, caretakers, sales personnel and its workforce of 700 weavers. Board members are elected to office by the society for the duration of five years – currently 7 elected members and 3 government officials make up the Bhuttico board of directors.
Get in touch with Bhuttico.
Head office and production facility: Bhutti Colony, Industrial Area, Kullu Valley, Himachal Pradesh, India.
The main showroom of the co-operative society at Industrial Area, Shamshi, Himachal Pradesh.
The Bhutti Weavers Co-operative society is located at Bhutti Colony, Industrial Area, Kullu Valley, Himachal Pradesh, India. The colony comprises of the head office of the society, production facility and residence of the weavers and management. To connect via telephone call: (+91)1902260079. Send in your fax at: (+91) 1902260857. Browse the Bhuttico website for additional information or online shopping at: Bhutticoshawl.com. Drop in an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or connect on Facebook at: Bhuttico Kullu Shawls