India has a rich cultural heritage of handloom weaving, with each region showcasing its unique techniques and designs. In this guide, we cover major handlooms of India, highlighting the diverse range of fabrics and styles that make Indian handloom weaving so unique.
From the rich designs of Banarasi silk to the airy texture of Kota Doria, the guide explores the intricacies of each handloom, delving into the materials, techniques, and cultural significance behind them. Discover the intricate floral patterns of Chikankari, the bold colors of Bandhani, and the unique double ikat technique used in Patan Patola.
A Sambalpuri saree is a type of handwoven saree made using a tie-dye technique known as “bandhakala” or ikat. The threads of the saree are first tie-dyed and then woven into a fabric, resulting in intricate and colorful designs. These sarees are produced in the Sambalpur, Balangir, Bargarh, Boudh, and Sonepur districts of Odisha, India and are known for their use of traditional motifs such as shankha (shell), chakra (wheel), and phula (flower) which hold deep symbolism in Odia culture. The colors used in the sarees, such as red, black, and white, represent the true colors of Odia culture and Lord Kaalia (Jagannatha)’s face. Sambalpuri sarees gained popularity outside of Odisha when the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi started wearing them. They have since become popular across India. Handloom silk sarees manufactured in Sambalpur and Berhampur (Berhampur Patta) have been included in the Government of India’s Geographical Indications (GI) registry to protect the weavers who practice this art.
Bomkai Saree is a handloom saree from Odisha, India, originating from Bomkai village in the Ganjam district. It is now produced by the Bhulia community in Subarnapur district and is a Geographical Indication of India. Available in cotton and silk fabrics, the sarees feature traditional designs with fish motifs for good luck. They also have intricate threadwork on the borders and pallu, with a simple yet elegant appearance and a tribal touch. Originally dyed in red, black, and white, they now come in various designs and colors. Bomkai Sarees have been showcased in fashion shows worldwide.
Berhampur Patta (Phoda Kumbha) Saree:
Berhampuri Patta saree is a famous silk work that originates from Berhampur, also known as the silk city of India. It is registered as a Geographical Indication under the GI of Goods Act by the Government of India. The saree is meant for women, while the joda is meant for men. The Berhampuri silk saree is known for its unique Odissi style of weaving and temple type design, particularly phoda and kumbha. The zari work border design is also distinct. This weaving technique is over 200 years old and was known to be exported to southeast Asian countries through the Gopalpur port. These sarees are also used to adorn the deities at the Jagannath temple in Puri.
Odisha Ikat, also known as Bandhakala or Bandha, is a type of resist dyeing technique originating from the Indian state of Odisha. This method involves tie-dyeing the warp and weft threads to create the design on the loom before weaving. It is a geographically tagged product of Odisha since 2007. The design process of this technique is considered unique and has been described as “poetry on the loom”. The fabric has a distinctive curvilinear appearance and is mainly produced in the western and eastern regions of Odisha. Community groups such as Bhulia, Kostha Asani, and Patara are involved in producing similar designs. The saris made from this fabric feature bands of brocade at the borders and ends, known as anchal or pallu. The edges of the fabric are purposefully feathered, giving them a delicate and hazy appearance. There are different types of bandha saris made in Odisha, including Khandua, Sambalpuri, Pasapali, Kataki, and Manibandhi.
Khandua is a traditional ikat saree from Odisha, also known as Maniabandi or Kataki. It is often worn by women during weddings and a special type is worn by Lord Jagannath, Our deity. The saree is adorned with texts from the Gita Govinda. Kenduli Khandua is a special form of Khandua that is 12 feet long and contains stanzas and illustrations from the Gita Govinda. This type of sari is traditionally woven by the communities of Maniabandha and Nuapatana in Cuttack. During the reign of the Gajapatis, these sarees were made and transported to the Jagannath Temple. Nilakantha Deva, the king of Badakhemundi, was offered a khandua saree made of one piece of khandua silk called caukandika.
Gopalpur is a village in the Jajpur district of the Indian state of Odisha that is known for producing Tussar fabrics. This handicraft was awarded the Geographical Indication tag by the Government of India in 2009. Tussar textiles include items such as dhotis, jodas, shawls, stoles, scarves, and sarees. Women usually assist in reeling the tussar threads, holding a tool called ‘natai’ in their right hand and unwinding the thread around the cocoons with their other hand. The weaver then twists the filament and winds the yarns on a wooden ‘natai’ at a continuous speed. Embellishments are done by hand using either extra weft or extra warp with a ‘bandha’ pattern. This increases the value of the fabric. Reeling machines are also available. The fabric is woven using a ‘cut shuttle technique’, where shuttles interlock with one another to form a foda kumbha in the weft direction. Shuttles on both sides interlock with the main shuttle for the main body of the fabric. By using the tie and dye bandha technique, the foda kumbha pattern is copied for multiple productions.
Dhalapathara is a type of fabric that is woven without the use of jala, jacquard, or dobby techniques. It is commonly used for weaving sarees, Lungi, Gamcha, and other similar products. The threads used in weaving this fabric are hand-spun and naturally dyed. The fabric gets its name from the place where it originates, Dhalapathar, in the Khurdha district of Odisha. The Rangani community in the village is known for weaving these fabrics. The yarn used is typically cotton, and it is woven in counts ranging from 20s to 2/120s. Sizing is only necessary when 20s or 26s yarn is used. When mercerized yarn is used, no sizing is required. The fabric is woven on fly shuttle pit looms, and the ground weave is plain. Cotton healds are used for each warp. Figuring is done with extra warp, and flat rectangular wooden pieces called “Chiaris” are used. However, nowadays, frame looms and Jalas are also used for weaving this fabric.
The Uppada Jamdani Saree is a type of silk saree that is woven in the village of Uppada, located in the East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, India. This saree style has been granted geographical indication status from Andhra Pradesh, indicating its unique origin and characteristics. The Jamdani style of weaving originally hails from Bangladesh and was introduced to the southern region of India in the 18th century. The weavers of Uppada village recreated the Jamdani weaving technique with a local touch, resulting in a distinct style that has been practiced for over 300 years. The Uppada weavers were recognized by the Government of India with the President’s award in 1972.
The Venkatagiri Saree is a saree style that is woven in the town of Venkatagiri, located in the Tirupati district of Andhra Pradesh, India. This saree has been granted geographical indication status by the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999. Venkatagiri sarees are renowned for their fine weaving, making them a preferred choice of royalty in Andhra Pradesh. What sets the Venkatagiri saree apart is the large Jamdani motif found in the pallu. These motifs typically feature a peacock, parrot, swan, mango or leaf, adding a touch of elegance to the overall design. Additionally, the sarees boast unique zari designs that further enhance their beauty and appeal.
Mangalagiri Silk Sarees, also known as Mangalagiri Pattu Sarees, are a unique type of saree woven from a blend of cotton and pure silk. These sarees are characterized by their use of zari and are often used for special occasions such as weddings and religious festivals. The distinctive feature of Mangalagiri sarees is the use of zari on the border, which adds a touch of elegance and sophistication to the overall design. Unlike other sarees, Mangalagiri sarees do not have woven designs on the body, making them simple yet stylish. Mangalagiri town is home to the Lord Narasimha Temple, and the sarees are also used by devotees for devotional purposes. This adds a cultural significance to the saree, making it not just a piece of clothing but a symbol of tradition and devotion.
Dharmavaram Handloom Pattu Sarees:
Dharmavaram handloom pattu sarees and paavadas are handwoven textiles made with mulberry silk and zari. These textiles are crafted in Dharmavaram, located in the Anantapur district of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Dharmavaram handloom pattu sarees and paavadas have gained recognition and protection under the Geographical Indications of Goods Act, 1999, as they are known for their superior quality and unique design. These sarees are adorned with intricate designs and patterns that reflect the rich cultural heritage of Andhra Pradesh. The use of mulberry silk and zari in the weaving process makes Dharmavaram handloom pattu sarees and paavadas durable and long-lasting, making them a popular choice for weddings and other special occasions. The intricate designs and vibrant colors make them a fashion statement for women across India and around the world.
Muga Silk of Assam:
Muga silk is a type of wild silk that is specifically tagged to the state of Assam in India. This silk is known for its exceptional durability and has a natural yellowish-golden hue, which gives it a glossy, shimmering texture. Historically, Muga silk was reserved for royalty. The larvae of the Assam silkmoth feed on aromatic Som (Machilus bombycina) and Sualu (Litsea polyantha) leaves found in the Brahmaputra Valley. Muga silk can be dyed after bleaching and it becomes even more lustrous with each hand-washing. Muga silk is commonly used in the creation of products such as saris, mekhalas and chadors, among others.
Bhagalpuri silk, also known as Tussar silk, is a traditional style of silk used for making saris. Bhagalpur, located in India, is famously referred to as the “silk city”. This silk material is derived from the cocoons of Antheraea paphia silkworms, which are native to India and commonly known as Vanya silkworms. The silkworms dwell in the wild forests, living in trees belonging to Terminalia species. The processing of Bhagalpuri silk primarily takes place in Nathnagar, where not only saris but also shawls, kurtis, and other garments are made from this exquisite material.
Champa silk is a type of tussar silk that is produced in different regions of Chhattisgarh, including Raigarh, Bilaspur, and Janjgir-Champa. The silk comes in shades of brown, cream, and dull gold and is internationally recognized for its high quality and bright colors. Bhagalpur, located in Bihar, is a major producer of tussar silk and other indigenous silk varieties. The kosa silk of Champa is made from silkworms that feed on the bark of Arjun and Saj trees. The resulting silk is woven using jacquard or pit looms to create sarees, dhotis, stoles, kurtas, yardage, and home furnishings for both the domestic and international market. In 2011, Champa silk sarees and fabrics from Chattisgarh received Geographical Indication (GI) status from the Government of India due to their unique characteristics and territory-specific production.
Patan Patola Saree is a traditional garment that involves a very intricate and complex process of tying and dyeing. It is a double ikat woven saree, usually made from silk, that is made in Patan, Gujarat, India. The singular form of patola is patolu. One patola saree takes approximately a year to weave, making them very expensive and once worn only by those belonging to royal and aristocratic families. These saris are still popular among those who can afford the high prices due to their rarity and the amount of time and effort it takes in producing each saree, which can take around 6 months to 3 years to design and weave.
The Ilkal saree is a popular traditional saree in India that is commonly worn by women. It is named after the town of Ilkal, located in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka state in India. Ilkal saris are made using a combination of cotton warp for the body and art silk warp for the border and pallu (end piece) of the sari. Some saris may also use pure silk instead of art silk. The art of weaving these saris dates back to the 8th century AD and is believed to have been promoted by local chieftains in and around the town of Bellary. The availability of local raw materials has also contributed to the growth of this style of sari. Approximately 20,000 people in the town of Ilkal are employed in sari-weaving.
Molakalmuru Saree, also called Karnataka Kanchipuram, is a traditional silk saree that is woven in Molakalmuru, a town in Chitradurga district of Karnataka, India. It was awarded a Geographical Indication tag in 2011. The saree features intricate motifs of fruits, animals, and flowers. The traditional Molakalmuru silk saree is woven using a 3 shuttle technique. The border is woven with the same color for both the warp and weft, while the body is woven with a contrasting color to create a fine shot effect. The color of the pallav warp and weft is the same as the border color, achieved through tie and dye technique. Weaving is primarily done on pit looms using a fly shuttle or throw shuttle method.
The Udupi Saree is a unique type of saree crafted in the Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts, also known as Tulunad, in the state of Karnataka, India. These sarees are not only beautiful in their exquisite tapestry but also rooted in the rich history, culture, and tradition of the region. The Udupi sarees have been woven for nearly 150 years on the Malabar Frame looms introduced by the Basel Mission of Germany. They are also known as Magga sarees, and feature contrasting colors on the body, border, and pallu woven through intricate warp and weft patterns. The pallu portion of the warp is dyed in a darker hue, starch is applied on the loom while weaving, and motifs are woven using extra warp techniques, which adds to the exclusivity of these sarees.
Balaramapuram is a small town located 15 km away from Thiruvananthapuram in the state of Kerala, India. The town is known for its production of traditional clothing items such as Grey Sarees, Dhotis (also known as Veshtis or Mundus), and Set Mundus (Pudava & Kavani or Mumdum Neriyathum). These products are woven using kora white cotton yarn, which is a finer count like 8os or 100s. Dhoti and shirt is the traditional outerwear for adult males in Kerala, while Set Mundu is the traditional outerwear for women, consisting of a Dhoti to cover the lower part of the body, a blouse, and a Kavani (or Neriyathu) to wrap around the upper part of the body, similar to a dupatta. Pudava and Kavani is the traditional wedding dress for brides in the southern part of the state. Set Mundu has also evolved into a new form as Balarampuram Saree.
A Kasaragod saree is a type of cotton sari that is handmade by weavers from the Saliya community in Kerala’s Kasaragod district. They are known for their durability and are distinct from traditional Kerala saris, with influences from neighboring Karavali styles. The body of the saree is usually plain or striped using dyed yarns, while the borders are hand-made using Jacquard or Dobby techniques, making them very attractive. These saris are made with high thread counts ranging from 60 to 100 and employ vat dye, making them long-lasting. Recent versions of these saris have silk blends. This weaving tradition dates back to the 18th century, when Saliya community members migrated from Karavali to Tamil Nadu, and pathmasaliyas migrated from the Kingdom of Mysore to the region and formed settlements. The Indian government recognized it as a Geographical Indication in 2010.
Kuthampully Saree is a type of traditional saree that is made by weavers from the Kuthampully village in the Thiruvilwamala Grama Panchayat of Thrissur district in Kerala, India. These sarees are known for their unique borders, which are made in the Grey Style with Kasavu (Zari). They are woven using fine count cotton yarn, typically with counts of 80s or 100s. These sarees are mainly manufactured in Kuthampully, Thiruvilwamala, Eravathody, and Kondozhi regions. In 2011, the Kuthampully Saree was granted exclusive Intellectual Property rights through the Geographical Indication Act.
The weaving culture of Chanderi dates back to the 2nd to 7th centuries and is located on the boundary of two cultural regions of Malwa and Bundelkhand in the state of Madhya Pradesh in India. The people of the Vindhyachal Ranges have a wide range of traditions, and the region’s importance grew in the 11th century with trade locations in Malwa, Medwa, central India, and south Gujarat. The Chanderi saree tradition began in the 13th century, and around 1350, Koshti weavers from Jhansi migrated to Chanderi and settled there. During the Mughal period, the textile business of Chanderi reached its peak. Chanderi saris are made from three different types of fabrics: pure silk, Chanderi cotton, and silk cotton. They feature a variety of designs, including traditional coin, floral, peacock, and modern geometric patterns, which are woven into different Chanderi styles. These saris are considered some of the finest in India, known for their use of gold and silver brocade or zari, fine silk, and luxurious embroidery.
The Maheshwari saree has a fascinating history that dates back to the 18th century and originates from Maheshwar in Madhya Pradesh. Initially, these sarees were made purely of silk, but cotton yarn was later introduced in the weft. Legend has it that Queen Ahilyabai Holkar ordered various craftsmen and artisans from Malwa and Surat to design a special saree of 9 yards length, which later became known as the Maheshwari saree. These sarees were intended as a special gift for the royal relatives and guests who visited the palace. The motifs on the Maheshwari saree are often inspired by the grandeur of the forts in Madhya Pradesh and their designs.
Paithani is a type of sari that originated from the town of Paithan in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, India. Today, the largest manufacturer of Paithani saris is Yeola, a town in Nashik, Maharashtra. These saris are known for their borders with an oblique square design and a padar featuring a peacock design. They are available in both plain and spotted designs, and are popular in both single-colored and kaleidoscope-colored varieties. The kaleidoscopic effect is achieved by using one color for weaving lengthwise and another for weaving widthwise.
Wangkhei Phee is a type of fabric made with fine white cotton yarn and woven by women using a closely woven texture. The weaving technique involves interlacing cotton weft and warp in series, which results in a fully transparent fabric. The fabric features various designs, including Kheiroithek, Thangjing Tangkai, and KabokChaiba, all of which have Moirang Phee designs on both longitudinal borders. Wangkhei Phee is a popular choice among women in Manipur for marriage ceremonies and other festive occasions. Originally, it was made using muslin for the royal family of Manipur, and the weavers were stationed at the Wangkhei Colony close to the palace. Nowadays, Wangkhei Phee is made in many places throughout Manipur.
Moirang Phee is a type of textile fabric made in the Indian state of Manipur. It has a specific design called the “MoirangPheejin” which is woven on both edges of the fabric and oriented towards the center with cotton or silk threads. This design is protected under GI registration and is made throughout Manipur, but it originated in Moirang village, which is a historical location in the Bishnupur District. The villagers initially made Moirang Phee to gift the designed fabric as a tribute to the Meitei rulers, the royal family of Manipur. The “MoirangPheejin” design, known as Yarongphi in the local language, represents the thin and pointed teeth of the “Pakhangba”, the Pythonic god in Manipur mythology. It is arranged in varying steps on the longitudinal border of the fabric to give an aesthetic appearance to the fabric. Moirang village is also known for being the historic place where the INA flag was unfurled in 1944.
Kota Doria Saree:
Kota Doria, also known as Kota Doriya, is a lightweight woven fabric made of tiny squares (khat), which is handwoven on traditional pit looms in Kaithoon, near Kota in Rajasthan, India, and in some surrounding villages. Kota Doria Sarees, made of pure cotton and silk, have square patterns known as khats on them. The chequered weave of a Kota sari is very popular, and they are known for being fine weaves that weigh very little. It is said that jhala zalim singh of Kotah brought weavers from Mysore in Karnataka to Kotah in the mid 17th century to weave a characteristic small squared lightweight cotton fabric suitable for turbans. Rao Kishore Singh died in a battle in Karnataka in 1696 while fighting for the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. Woven silk Kota Doria saris have also become popular, and larger designs are now made according to fashion and taste. A standard sari is 6.5 meters long and includes the blouse piece. A genuine Kota Doria sari will contain the GI mark woven in one corner, indicating that it has been handwoven using real silver and gold thread.
The Kanjeevaram silk saree is a type of silk saree that originates from the Kanchipuram region in Tamil Nadu, India. These sarees are known for their wide contrast borders, which can feature traditional designs such as temple borders, checks, stripes, and floral patterns (buttas). The designs and patterns found on Kanjeevaram sarees are often inspired by images and scriptures found in South Indian temples or natural features like leaves, birds, and animals. Some Kanjeevaram sarees feature richly woven mundhi, which depict paintings of Raja Ravi Varma and epics like the Mahabharata and Ramayana. The cost of Kanjeevaram sarees can vary widely depending on the intricacy of the work, colors, patterns, and materials used, such as zari (gold thread). The silk used in Kanjeevaram sarees is also known for its quality and craftsmanship, which has helped to earn the saree its name. In 2005-2006, the Government of India recognized the Kanjeevaram silk saree as a Geographical Indication.
Madurai Sungudi Saree:
Madurai Sungudi is a textile design originating from Madurai, a city in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The design is created using the tie and dye method with natural dyes, and is traditionally produced by the Saurashtrians who migrated to Madurai in the 17th century under the patronage of King Thirumalai Naicker. Sungudi Sarees are cotton sarees with block prints and tie & dye designs, and are made in the village of Chinnalapatti. The artisans who practice Sungudi are known as patnulkarar, which is derived from the Tamil words “pat” meaning “silk” and “nul” meaning “thread”. The weavers and dyers of Sungudi are believed to have migrated to Madurai due to conflicts in Saurashtra, as well as drawn by the patronage and incentives offered by rulers such as Tirumala Nayaka of Madurai.
Arani Silk Saree:
Arani is a town located in the Tiruvanamalai district of Tamil Nadu, India, that is renowned for its handloom woven silk sarees known as Arani sarees. These sarees are made from an unstitched strip of cloth that ranges from four to nine yards in length. Arani sarees are known for their contrasting borders, which offer an ethnic look with a combination of appealing colors, featuring floral motifs and geometric patterns. Traditional motifs found on Arani sarees include peacock and parrot, with colors ranging from mustard, pink, red, green, blue, and black. These sarees are produced using materials such as mulberry silk, pure gold zari, or half fine (imitation) zari.
Kovai Kora cotton Saree:
Kovai Kora cotton is made from a blend of silk and cotton. A superior quality cotton yarn is mixed with traditional silk to produce kora cotton Sarees. The sarees have bright colored border designs with occasional use of shining zari. The required designs are woven on the loom using combinations of colored cotton and silk threads and the borders are added later. Kovai Kora cotton, also known as Kovai Cora cotton, is a type of saree made in the Coimbatore region of Tamil Nadu, India. It has been recognized as a Geographical Indication by the Government of India in 2014-15. The kora cotton sarees are woven on traditional handlooms, with each saree taking up to three days for weaving.
Salem Silk, also known as Salem Venpattu, refers to silk clothing made in Salem, Tamil Nadu. The main highlight of this silk fabric is its luster, which is enhanced by the water used during the degumming process. It is believed that this water possesses certain properties that impart a unique shine to the silk.
Pochampally saree or Pochampalli ikat is a type of saree made in Bhoodan Pochampally, Yadadri Bhuvanagiri district, Telangana State, India. The sarees feature traditional geometric patterns in the “Paagadu Bandhu” (Ikat) style of dyeing. The intricate geometric designs are woven into sarees and dress materials. The cabin crew of Air India, the Indian government’s official airline company, wear specially designed Pochampally silk sarees. Weaving of these sarees is carried out in a few villages including Pochampally, Koyalgudam, Choutuppala, Siripuram, Bhuvanagiri, Puttapaka, and Gattuppala, mostly in Nalgonda district. Pochampally Ikat sarees are unique due to the transfer of intricate designs and colors onto the warp and weft threads before weaving, which is globally known as double ikat textiles.
The Gadwal saree is a handcrafted woven saree style originating from Gadwal, in the Jogulamba Gadwal district of the Indian state of Telangana. It has been registered as a geographical indication from Telangana, 1999. These sarees are most notable for the Zari work on them. The saree consists of a cotton body with a silk pallu, also known as Sico sarees. The weave is so light that the entire saree can be packed in a matchbox. The Brahmotsavas of Tirupati start with the deity’s idol being adorned with a Gadwal saree. These handloom sarees are well-known for the gorgeous gold and silver zari work on them. The sarees are also available in pure silk fabric. The best part is that the weave is said to be as light as a feather.
Siddipet Gollabama sarees:
Gollabhama sarees are a type of cotton sarees made in Siddipet, Telangana, India. They are renowned for their inlay figure work and motifs. The sarees are woven in the Siddipet region and are named after the unique inlay technique and motif of the gollabhama, which refers to the milkmaid. The design of the sarees is said to be inspired by the charm of the women from the golla community, who are known for their brightly colored skirts and veils while carrying pots of milk and curd. The sarees typically come in a single color with small gollabhama butas dotted throughout the fabric. The larger intricate motifs are often showcased on the border and/or pallu. There are three motifs typically used for saree designs, namely Gollabhama, Bathukamma, and Kolatam, with Gollabhama being the most commonly used.
Narayanpet Handloom Sarees:
Narayanpet handloom sarees are known for their small zari designs that create a contrasting look. The process of making these sarees is unique in that eight sarees are made at once on the loom, using about 56 yards of silk. This results in a relatively lighter weight saree that can be comfortably worn throughout the year. The borders and pallus of Narayanpet handloom sarees are traditional, featuring a rich pallu and alternating red and white bands. The border is accompanied by a flat stretch of deep maroon, chocolate red or red colour, separated by a clear pattern of white or coloured lines. The sarees often feature contrasting colours, attractive pallus, and simple borders. Double shade sarees with blends like pink-purple and maroon-mustard are also popular. Cotton-silk blends and light pure silk sarees are the best models of Narayanpet sarees. The warp and weft of the sarees are made with combed cotton dyed in vat colours. Narayanpet sarees are known for their durability of colours used in the yarn.
Banaras Brocades and Sarees:
Banaras Brocade Sarees are crafted using finely woven silk and adorned with intricate designs made with zari, which adds to the weight of the saree. These sarees are known for their Mughal-inspired elements like intricate floral and foliate motifs such as kalga and bel. They also feature gold work, compact weaving, figures with small details, metallic visual effects, “jali” (a net-like pattern), and “meena” work. These sarees are woven using the traditional Banaras hand loom jacquard and sometimes with “jala”, “pagia”, and “naka” attachments for creating motifs.
Shantipuri Cotton Saree:
Shantipur and the surrounding region in West Bengal, India have been renowned for handloom sarees since ancient times. Skilled weavers from Bangladesh migrated to the region after the partition of India and settled in and around Shantipur of Nadia district and Kalna (Ambika Kalna) of Bardhaman district. Both regions are famous for producing hand-woven fabrics. Shantipur is especially known for superfine dhotis and sarees with jacquard designs, inspired by nature. Some of the elegant designs of Shantipur sarees are named as ‘Bhomra’, ‘Terchi’, ‘Rajmahal’, ‘Chandmala’, ‘Gont’, ‘Dorokho’, ‘Nilambari’, ‘Ganga Jamuna’, ‘Ans par’, and ‘Moi par’. Shantipuri cotton sarees have a unique place in the traditional fabrics of West Bengal, due to their elegant look, elaborated design details, and typical loom finish.
The Baluchari Saree is a type of garment worn by women in Bangladesh and the Indian states of West Bengal. This particular type of sari originated in West Bengal and is known for its depictions of mythological scenes on the pallu (the decorative end piece) of the saree. Originally produced in Murshidabad, presently, Bishnupur and its surrounding areas of West Bengal are the only places where authentic Baluchari saris are produced. It takes approximately one week to produce one such saree. In 2011, the Baluchari Saree was granted the status of Geographical Indication for West Bengal in India. These sarees have depictions from scenes of Mahabharat and Ramayana. During the Mughal and British eras, they had a square design in the pallu with paisley motifs in them, and depicted scenes from the lives of the Nawab of Bengal featuring women smoking hookahs, nawabs driving horse carriages, and even European officers of the East India Company. It would take two craftsmen working for almost a week to produce one saree. The main material used is silk and the saree is polished after weaving.
Dhaniakhali saree is a lightweight and delicate saree that boasts of the Geographical Indication (GI) tag. Its origins can be traced back to 1935, when Dhaniakhali was emerging as a hub of handloom textiles, including the iconic Dhaniakhali saree and Bangla tant weaves. The saree is typically made of pure cotton with a 100S yarn count in both the warp and weft sections, which accounts for its ultra-thin texture. Unlike most sarees, Dhaniakhali sarees have a length of six meters instead of the standard 5.5 meters. Starch is heavily used in the production process, with a mixture of sago seeds, wheat, puffed paddy rice, and other materials. A bamboo reed, known as “sar” reed, plays a vital role in weaving the saree and controlling and directing the threads to achieve the desired texture.
RajKot Patola Saree:
Rajkot Patola is a type of saree that is woven using the vertical resist-dyeing technique, also known as single ikat patola. It is another form of ikat that is vertically resist-dyed, giving it a unique look. Although it is not as highly valued as Patan Patola, it has its own subtle beauty and charm.
Mysore Silk Saree:
Mysore silk sarees are known for their distinctive sheen and luster, setting them apart from other types of silk sarees. What makes these sarees unique is that they are made exclusively, ensuring that each piece is one-of-a-kind and long-lasting. Their elegance lies not only in their glossy appearance but also in their simplicity, giving them a refined and sophisticated look and feel. To ensure authenticity, these sarees are uniformly colored, with gold-threaded borders and sometimes adorned with intricately designed floral motifs or mango buttis. Some Mysore silk sarees are also embellished with Kasuti embroidery and Bandhani designs. It is important to note that while some buyers may be skeptical about the originality of these sarees, authentic Mysore silk sarees are made of natural silk, which is eco-friendly and different from the artificial silk used in industrial looms.
Kalamkari is a traditional form of hand-painted cotton textile that originated in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The unique feature of Kalamkari is that only natural dyes are used, and the process involves twenty-three steps. There are two main styles of Kalamkari art in India – the Srikalahasti style and the Machilipatnam style. The Srikalahasti style involves using a pen or “kalam” for freehand drawing of the subject and filling in the colors by hand. This style is popularly used for creating unique religious identities in temples, and the art can be seen on scrolls, temple hangings, chariot banners, as well as depictions of Hindu deities and scenes from epic tales such as the Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Purana.
Chikankari is the technique used for creating chikan work, a type of hand embroidery that is delicately done on various textile fabrics such as muslin, silk, chiffon, organza, and net. This style uses white thread to create beautiful patterns on cool, pastel shades of light muslin and cotton garments. The process of creating these intricate designs involves using basic instruments such as needles and threads. The Chikankari method includes designing, engraving, block printing, hand embroidery, and washing. Chikankari embroidery has become very popular in high-end fashion, and is considered a must-have in bridal trousseaus.
Bandhani is an ancient method of tie-dyeing that is still commonly used in western India. This technique involves pinching and tying small portions of cloth with the fingernails to create intricate patterns of dots, resulting in a figurative design. The process creates a unique and beautiful fabric.
Phulkari is a traditional embroidery style from Punjab, India. The word “Phulkari” means “floral work”, but it is not limited to just floral designs. This embroidery technique uses the darn stitch on the backside of coarse cotton cloth with colorful silk thread. Skilled Punjabi women create beautiful patterns and designs by manipulating the darn stitch in different ways. There are several distinct types of Phulkaris, including Chope, Tilpatr, Neelak, and Bagh. Bagh is a special type of Phulkari where the embroidery covers the entire garment, making the base cloth invisible. In contemporary modern designs, sparsely embroidered dupattas, odhinis, and shawls are called Phulkaris and are used for everyday wear. Clothing items that cover the entire body and are made for special and ceremonial occasions, such as weddings, are called Baghs. Phulkari remains an essential part of Punjabi weddings to this day.
Whether you’re a fashion enthusiast looking to incorporate traditional fabrics into your wardrobe, or simply interested in learning more about India’s rich cultural heritage, this guide offers a comprehensive look at the major handlooms of India. With its vibrant colors, intricate designs, and unique textures, Indian handloom weaving is a true testament to the country’s rich artistic traditions. India is a land of rich cultural heritage and diversity, and its handloom weaving traditions are no exception. The country has a rich legacy of producing exquisite handloom textiles, each with its own unique style, history, and cultural significance. From the intricate designs of Banarasi silk to the earthy charm of Kalamkari, the art of handloom weaving in India is a reflection of the country’s rich cultural and artistic heritage. As consumers, it is important to appreciate and support these traditional crafts to ensure their survival and to help preserve India’s rich cultural heritage for future generations. Hope It helps all the handloom lovers to give some insight. Taken Enough time to read, research and write. Do give it a read and comment your valuable opinion.