Dyeing with Nature: Exploring the Vibrant World of Kotpad Handloom Sarees

Handcrafted cotton kotpad saree with intricate embroidery and weaving

Step into the world of Kotpad Handloom sarees, a remarkable craft cherished by the tribal weavers of Kotpad village in Odisha, India. Renowned for their vegetable-dyed fabrics and exquisite motifs, these sarees captivate with their vibrant colors and rich cultural heritage. Let us delve deeper into the art of Kotpad Handloom weaving, the significance of organic dyeing, and the timeless elegance of these traditional textiles.

Kotpad Handloom: A Treasure Woven with Tradition

Kotpad Handloom is a unique craft that finds its roots in the tribal community of Mirgan in Kotpad village, Odisha. Passed down through generations, this weaving tradition holds great cultural significance. The weavers meticulously create cotton sarees, dupattas, stoles, and dress materials, all dyed with organic dyes derived from the aul tree, a native plant of the region.

The craft received the esteemed Geographical Indication (GI) tag from the Government of India in 2005, acknowledging its authenticity and origin. This recognition has helped preserve the craft’s integrity and ensure fair trade practices.

The compelling narrative of Kotpad Handloom was beautifully showcased in the English documentary titled ‘Kotpad Weaving: The Story of a Race Against Time,’ directed by Biswanath Rath and produced by PSBT in association with Doordarshan. The film sheds light on the craft’s uniqueness, challenges, and potential solutions for its revival. It was telecasted on DD National on March 24, 2018.

Organic Dyeing: A Harmonious Blend of Nature and

Art At the heart of Kotpad Handloom sarees lies the art of organic dyeing. The weavers extract natural dyes from the roots of the aul tree (madder dye or Morinda citrifolia), which grow abundantly in the region. This process ensures that the colors are derived from non-toxic and eco-friendly sources, making them safe for both the weavers and the wearers.

The dyeing process takes approximately 15 to 30 days to achieve the desired colors. The main shades extracted are black and maroon, which vary based on the age of the root bark and the proportion of dye used. By incorporating harikari or iron sulphate, a range of dramatic shades from deep maroon to dark brown is achieved. These colors, when combined with the natural unbleached off-white color of the cotton yarn, create visually stunning results.

Kotpad Handloom Sarees: A Kaleidoscope of Craftsmanship

The hallmark of Kotpad Handloom sarees lies in their intricate motifs and solid borders. The weavers skillfully incorporate symbols and designs that reflect the cultural heritage of the region. Motifs such as conch, boat, axes, crab, bow, temple, fish, and fan adorn the fabric, telling stories of tradition and symbolism.

The weavers employ the multi-shuttle interlocking technique to create a solid border effect. This meticulous process involves pig by pig insertion of threads, resulting in a stunning border that enhances the overall aesthetic appeal of the saree.

Kotpad Handloom sarees are not only visually captivating but also incredibly comfortable to wear. The cotton and silk fabrics used in their creation make them suitable for both summer and winter seasons, offering versatility and style.

The Artistry Behind Kotpad Handloom Fabrics

The weavers of Kotpad Handloom employ their expertise in working with cotton yarn and tussar silk, resulting in exquisite textiles. Each saree is a labor of love, meticulously crafted thread by thread on traditional handlooms. The weavers’ skill and dedication bring forth the intricate patterns and designs that make Kotpad Handloom sarees unique.

The use of extra wefts allows the weavers to create the intricate motifs on the fabric. The interplay of colors and the meticulous technique employed by the weavers bring the motifs to life, reflecting the deep-rooted cultural heritage of the region.

Reviving and Honoring the Craft

The Government of India honored Gobardhan Panika, one of the master weavers of Kotpad Handloom, with the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award, in 2018. This recognition not only celebrates the weaver’s exceptional craftsmanship but also shines a light on the importance of preserving and promoting traditional arts and crafts.

However, the craft faces its fair share of challenges. Ensuring the sustainability of Kotpad Handloom requires continuous efforts to provide support and resources to the weavers. It is essential to foster awareness, encourage ethical trade practices, and empower the weaving community by creating opportunities for their growth and development.


Kotpad Handloom sarees stand as a testament to the rich cultural heritage and artistic brilliance of the tribal weavers of Kotpad village. With their mesmerizing motifs, organic dyes, and meticulous craftsmanship, these textiles represent a harmonious blend of tradition and sustainability. As we celebrate the intricate beauty and timeless elegance of Kotpad Handloom sarees, let us continue to support and cherish the preservation of this remarkable craft, ensuring its legacy for generations to come.

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