Odisha Handlooms go Beyond Sambalpuri and Bomkai Saris

Odisha Handlooms go Beyond Sambalpuri and Bomkai Saris
Representative Image: Handlooms in India , Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Tweak your fashion quotient with little known weaves from Odisha

Uttara Gangopadhyay
December 09 , 2020
04 Min Read

One of the state’s best kept secrets is its handloom weaves from the tribal belts. In the news for the wrong reasons, Kalahandi is home to one of the least known GI-tagged weaves from Odisha, the Habaspuri. The weavers here draw inspiration from nature, and use motifs such as flowers and fish, on the cotton saris. Kotpad, another GI awarded handloom, is woven in the Koraput region. Traditionally, the colours for this cotton textile used to be made from organic sources.

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According to art historians, handloom weaving in Odisha goes back to 600 BC. Human figures sculpted on the centuries old temples reflect stylistic draping of clothes.

Usually woven in cotton and tussar silk, the regionally unique handlooms display a wide variety of styles, colours, designs and motifs, the last reflecting the state’s natural beauty such as plants, birds, elephants, temples, and geometric patterns.

While saris form the bulk of the weaves, they also make dress material for men and women, to reach the wider market. The stylised textiles are also being used to make jackets, scarves and wraps.  

One of the most popular weaves is the ‘ikat’ or the ‘bandha’ style. In the ‘single’ ikat, either the warp or weft thread is dyed while in the ‘double’ ikat, both the warp and weft are dyed before weaving. According to historians, it is part of the state’s historical link with Indonesia.

One of the key centres of ikat weaving, Sambalpur is also known for its ‘bapta’ weaving, an indigenous method that combines silk and cotton. Weavers from areas around Cuttack, especially Maniabandha and Nuapatna, are adept in weaving the ‘khandua’. Predominantly, red or orange in colour, it is also GI protected. It was the throw of the dice in a game of ‘pasa’ that decided the course of India’s famous epic, the Mahabharata. 

Weavers in Bargarh draw inspiration from the game board and make colourful chequered pattern saris. Brahmapur (old name Berhampur), gateway to the seaside town of Gopalpur, is known for its special weave, distinguished by its special temple pattern. Another GI tagged weave from Odisha, it comes in the form of saris for women and jodas for men.

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Bhubaneswar and Puri are good places to go shopping because the government and private emporiums usually stock the specially woven handlooms from across the state. So in between enjoying the seaside and the architecture, pick up some of the special weaves to design your own fashion statement.

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