A walk down the historical pathways of Odisha presents us with a treasure chest of a rich textile and weaving heritage. According to art historians, the craft of handloom goes back to 600BC in Odisha, where ancient temples are filled with human sculptures adorned in a drape-like attire. The textile industry of this state is diverse as its land and ecosystem, reflecting the cultural ethos and distinct personality of the communities here. Additionally, it also happens to be one of the major sectors of employment, with a repertoire extending from silk to cotton and interwoven with enchanting motifs in exquisite hues.
Unlike other predominant weaving hubs across the country, one of Odisha's major source of influence over the centuries has been mythology, folklore and religious scriptures, especially the ones about Lord Krishna. The renowned and revered Nuapatna in Cuttack district produces a rare silk fabric that is embedded with depictions and verse from the epic Gita Govinda along with temple borders in auspicious colours. This special weave is used to drape the idols at the Jagannath Temple in Puri. Another notable design inspiration from the past was when a group of weavers migrated here from Bengal with Chaitnya Prabhu in the early 16th century, leading to an amalgamation of two diverse and beautiful styles of weaving. The Jagatsinghpur district along the state's eastern belt is the only place that till date practices the art of weaving the finest quality of 'Suta Luga' or single count cotton fabrics. The craftsmen are believed to be the devotees of Chaitnya Prabhu who spend every moment in honouring and celebrating the craft's 800-year old legacy.
While the weave that comes to our mind when we think of Odisha may be the renowned Sambalpuri Ikat, let us traverse across this land and discover its many hidden gems that deserve all our attention and appreciation.
This handcrafted soft silk weave from the Sonepur district makes use of a combination of Ikat tie and dye along with resham thread embroidery. Predominantly, they have a simple body design that is accentuated by an intricate and detailed pallu. These GI-tagged products revolve around nature themes in an earthy palette made from vegetable dyes. On the other hand, its cotton counterpart hails from the district of Ganjam and is greatly inspired by tribal art and features the famous temple spire pattern.
An integral part of a bride's wedding trousseau, it originates from Berhampur which translates to silk city or the city of Lord Brahma. What makes it so unique is that is always woven in pairs of Joda, with a saree for the woman and a matching ensemble for the man. The Odissi style of weaving incorporates a famous temple design, colloquially referred to as ‘Phoda Kumbha’ or ‘Badhi Kumbha’.
Hailing from Cuttak and Maniabandha, it is one of Odisha's most intricate and time-consuming Ikat weaving style that makes use of soft silk or Malda silk. With mythological motifs in vibrant hues of sunset yellow, blue, black and orange procured from sal trees, these handloom weaves are draped by women during special occasions and ceremonies.
Kotpad Cotton Sarees
The tribal community of Kotpad village in Koraput specialises in this handloom fabric made from coarse-textured cotton, tussar silk and aul tree roots. It is a matter of pride that only organic vegetative dyes are used in the shades of black and maroon to depict locally inspired motifs such as the conch, boat, axes, crab and bow. Notably, this was the first product from Odisha to get a GI tag in 2005.
An indigenous cotton weave from Chicheguda in the Kalahandi district, this handloom saree is brought to life by a community of 30 Kondha weavers and their families. Besides its unique weaving style and traditional designs, this weave is in the spotlight for the massive efforts taken by the craftsmen and the Government to revive, preserve and promote it.
Vibrant and vivid, these mesmerising cotton weaves are celebrated for its distinct checkerboard pattern created using the double Ikat technique. With origins rooted in the Mahabharat, 'Pasa' refers to the ancient game of chess and is recreated by as a timeless design by the weavers of Bargarh district. The contrasting colours and patterns add on to its sophisticated style.
Lavish and luxurious, these handloom weaves from the land of the Sun Temple are bound to have a long-lasting impact on you. Be it everyday events or occasion wear, choose from a range of expertly crafted weaves at Sundari Silks, and stay tuned till next week to discover more about our country's rich fabric fables.