Gopalpur Village in Jajpur District: The Ancient Art of Tussar Fabric Weaving

Gopalpur village in Jajpur district of Odisha, India, is renowned for its unique and intricate tussar fabrics. The village has been producing these fabrics for over 400 years, and the art of weaving has been passed down from generation to generation. In 2009, the Gopalpur tussar fabric was recognized with a GI (Geographical Indication) tag for its unique qualities and rich history. This article explores the history and significance of tussar fabric weaving in Gopalpur village.

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The Origin of Tussar Fabric Weaving in Gopalpur Village

The history of tussar fabric weaving in Gopalpur village can be traced back to the 16th century. It is believed that the art of weaving tussar fabrics was introduced to the region by the Bhulia community, who migrated to Odisha from Bengal. The Bhulia community settled in Gopalpur and started weaving tussar fabrics using the traditional techniques they had brought with them.

The Unique Qualities of Gopalpur Tussar Fabric

Gopalpur tussar fabric is known for its unique qualities, which make it stand out from other tussar fabrics. The fabric has a soft and smooth texture, and it is lightweight and breathable, making it ideal for hot and humid climates. The natural golden hue of the tussar silk gives the fabric a rich and luxurious look, making it popular for special occasions.

Gopalpur tussar Saree

The Hand-Spun and Hand-Reeled Yarns of Gopalpur Tussar Fabric

One of the key factors that contribute to the uniqueness of Gopalpur tussar fabric is the use of hand-spun and hand-reeled yarns. The weavers use silk yarns that are hand-spun using the charkha, a traditional spinning wheel, and hand-reeled using a reel. This process results in yarns that are strong, durable, and have a natural sheen.

The Extra Weft Technique and Gheecha Design in Gopalpur Tussar Fabric

In addition to the use of hand-spun and hand-reeled yarns, another unique feature of Gopalpur tussar fabric is the extra weft technique. This technique involves the use of an additional weft thread that is woven into the fabric to create intricate designs and patterns.

The weavers in Gopalpur village also use a traditional technique known as gheecha to create unique designs in the tussar fabric. Gheecha involves the left over tussar yarns tied together and tying and dyeing of tussar silk yarns in a particular pattern before they are woven into the fabric. This technique creates beautiful and intricate designs in the tussar fabric that are unique to Gopalpur village.

The weavers in Gopalpur village are highly skilled in these traditional techniques and create stunning designs using a combination of the extra weft technique and gheecha. The designs are often inspired by nature, with motifs of flowers, leaves, and birds commonly used in the patterns.

The Significance of the GI Tag for Gopalpur Tussar Fabric

The recognition of Gopalpur tussar fabric with a GI tag in 2009 was a significant achievement for the weavers in the village. The GI tag is a form of intellectual property protection that recognizes the unique qualities and characteristics of a product that are linked to a specific geographical area.

The GI tag for Gopalpur tussar fabric ensures that only tussar fabrics that are produced in the village using the traditional techniques and materials can be sold under the Gopalpur tussar brand. This helps to protect the quality and authenticity of the product and also provides an assurance to customers that they are purchasing a genuine Gopalpur tussar product. 

The Weaving Process of Gopalpur Tussar Fabric

The weaving of Gopalpur tussar fabric is a time-consuming process that requires a great deal of skill and expertise. The process begins with the selection of high-quality silk yarns that are hand-spun and hand-reeled. The yarns are then dyed using natural dyes to create the desired colors.

The weavers then prepare the loom by setting up the warp and weft threads. The extra weft thread is also added at this stage, and the weavers carefully weave the design into the fabric using the jaala technique. The process of weaving the fabric is slow and meticulous, with each thread carefully placed to create the desired pattern.

Once the weaving is complete, the fabric is washed and finished to give it a soft and luxurious feel. The finished tussar fabric is then ready to be sold or used to create beautiful garments and accessories.

The Importance of Tussar Fabric Weaving for the Local Economy

Tussar fabric weaving is an important source of livelihood for the weavers in Gopalpur village. The craft provides employment opportunities for both men and women in the community, and it has been a traditional occupation for generations.

The sale of Gopalpur tussar fabric also contributes to the local economy by providing income for the weavers and supporting other businesses in the village. The popularity of tussar fabrics has also helped to promote tourism in the region, with many visitors coming to Gopalpur to see the traditional weaving techniques in action and purchase authentic tussar fabrics.

The Impact of Modern Technology on Tussar Fabric Weaving in Gopalpur

The art of weaving Tussar fabrics in Gopalpur has been practiced for over 400 years and is deeply rooted in the history and culture of the region. However, with the advent of modern technology, the traditional method of weaving has undergone significant changes.

In the past, weaving Tussar fabrics was a manual process that involved using hand-spun and hand-reeled yarns. The weavers used a traditional loom called a “pit loom” and followed a labor-intensive process of manually weaving the fabric. This traditional method not only produced exquisite fabrics but also provided employment to a large number of people in the region.

However, with the arrival of modern technology, the traditional method of weaving has been replaced by power looms, which use electronic control systems to automate the weaving process. Power looms have significantly increased the production capacity of the weavers and have reduced the time and effort required to weave fabrics.

While the use of power looms has helped weavers produce Tussar fabrics in larger quantities, it has also had an impact on the quality of the fabric. Many argue that the fabrics produced by power looms lack the intricacy and uniqueness of the hand-woven fabrics. The power looms do not allow the weavers to customize the fabric as per the demand of the customers, resulting in a loss of creativity.

Furthermore, the use of modern technology has also led to a decline in the number of weavers practicing the traditional method of weaving. With the availability of power looms, many weavers have shifted to other professions, leading to a decline in the number of skilled weavers.

Despite these challenges, efforts are being made to preserve the traditional method of weaving and promote the unique identity of Gopalpur Tussar fabrics. Several organizations are working with weavers to provide them with better technology that can help them produce high-quality fabrics while also preserving the traditional weaving techniques.

In conclusion, while modern technology has brought significant changes to the traditional method of weaving Tussar fabrics in Gopalpur, efforts must be made to preserve the traditional method of weaving.

How to Care for Gopalpur Tussar Fabric

Gopalpur tussar fabric is a delicate material that requires proper care to maintain its beauty and longevity. Here are some tips on how to care for your Gopalpur tussar fabric:

  1. Hand wash with mild detergent: It is best to hand wash your Gopalpur tussar fabric with a mild detergent in cold water. Avoid using harsh detergents or hot water as it can damage the fabric’s fibers.
  2. Do not wring or twist: After washing, gently squeeze the excess water from the fabric and hang it to dry. Avoid wringing or twisting the fabric as it can cause it to lose its shape and texture.
  3. Iron on low heat: To remove any wrinkles, iron your Gopalpur tussar fabric on a low heat setting. Do not use a high heat setting as it can scorch or damage the fabric.
  4. Store properly: When storing your Gopalpur tussar fabric, fold it neatly and store it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Avoid storing it in plastic bags as it can cause moisture to build up and damage the fabric.
  5. Handle with care: When wearing or handling your Gopalpur tussar fabric, be gentle and avoid pulling or stretching the fabric. This will help maintain its shape and texture.

By following these simple tips, you can ensure that your Gopalpur tussar fabric stays beautiful and lasts for years to come.

Conclusion

Gopalpur village in Jajpur district is a treasure trove of the traditional art of tussar fabric weaving. The 400-year-old art is an integral part of the village’s culture and heritage, and the GI tag received in 2009 is a testament to its uniqueness and importance. The weavers of Gopalpur use hand-spun and hand-reeled yarns, and the fabrics are designed in tussar and gheecha and enhanced with an extra weft technique.

Despite the challenges faced by the industry, the weavers of Gopalpur have managed to preserve the art form with their dedication and skill. Modern technology has brought some changes to the weaving process, but the essence of the art remains the same.

Gopalpur tussar fabric is not just a textile product but a piece of art that carries with it the rich history and culture of the village. By supporting the weavers of Gopalpur, we can help preserve this ancient art form and keep it alive for future generations to appreciate and admire.

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