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The President, the Finance Minister and Vidya Balan love this state’s fabric!

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By: Aparna Samant

Odisha is rich in terms of hand-looms. There are various hand weaves which are found in all over the state, each having it’s own unique characteristics.

History of Odisha Fabric

According to art historians, handloom weaving in Odisha goes back to 600 BC. The history of this art is linked to Lord Jagannath. Four primary colours used in keeping with this tradition are white, black, yellow, and red, with green added at a later date. These colours are said to denote the past, present, and future, to the Vedas and the Gods. It is also inferred that the Ikat silk art came into existence by copying the temple architecture which existed much earlier.

Human figures sculpted on the centuries-old temples reflect stylistic draping of clothes. Usually woven in cotton and silk, the regionally unique handlooms display a wide variety of styles, colours, designs and motifs, the State’s natural beauty such as plants, birds, elephants, temples and geometric patterns.

As per history, Jayadeva the great poet of 12th century, offered his ‘Gitagovinda’ to Lord Jagannath by way of fabrics. He got them woven in his native birthplace Kenduli village where the lyrics of the ‘Gitagovinda’ were woven in the fabric.

Then the King of Puri issued an order to Nuapatna(Tigiria) to supply Gitagovinda fabrics. Other than Gitagovinda Khandua patta (silk), other cotton fabrics are also used in the daily rituals of the dieties.

Handloom Map of Odisha

Sambalpuri Ikkat – It Reflects the bandha style of craft where the warp and weft threads are dyed in different colors and patterns before weaving.Sambalpuri fabrics range from geometric patterns to landscape, potrates and other motifs such as sankha(shell), chakra(wheel) and variety of phula(flower). Many public figures have been seen wearing this legacy across the country like Hon’ble President Pratibha Devi Singh Patil, Nirmala Sitharaman and Vidhya Balan.

Sambalpuri Ikat

Bomkai Cotton – It is woven by the artisans of Sonepur districts, Bomkai is a handloom fabric that has an attached GI tag and is also called the “Sonepuri” fabric.It is one of the most famous handloom of Odisha which is worn and flaunt by many of the admirers like Aishwarya Rai Bachchan who wore Radhakunja saree, designed by Chaturbhuj Meher for her wedding,which took three months to weave.

Bomkai Patta

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Berhampuri Paata – Also called “Phoda Kumbha”, Berhampuri Paata too boasts of a GI tag and is famous for its temple shaped designs along the border and pallu portion. This paata has another distinction; it is draped around Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra in Puri Jagannath Temple.Khandua Paata – Khandua paata is noted for the text of Gita Govinda eteched on it. Traditionally red or orange in colour, this colour are procured naturally from sal trees. This fabric too, is a registered GI and originated in Cuttack and Maniabandha.

Berhampuri Patta is a favorite among many!

Kotpad Cotton – Woven by the tribes of Kotpad village in Koraput, this fabric with a GI tag is renowned for being dyed organically. Vegetables are used to obtain the required colours with black and maroon being the major dyes.

Kotpad Cotton fabric

Habaspuri – Kondha weavers of Chicheguda in Kalahandi district interwine magic with Habaspuri, one of the major cotton-based textiles of Odisha with fish, flower and temple motifs. It has also been registered under GI.


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Habaspuri Kondha Weave

Saptapar/Pasapali – Celebrated for its prominent double ikat checkerboard pattern. Saptapar is famously known as “Pasapalli”, attributed to Bargarh district in Odisha. An intricate pasaa (chessboard) pattern in contrasting colour is its most striking feature.Madhuri Dixit5 was seen wearing Saptapar salwar kameez.

Pasapali Fabric

Each of Odisha’s handloom has a distinctive feature which takes months of hardwork and skills to achieve which powerloom can never imitate.  The way it is dyed, weaved and treated afterwards makes the whole difference.

Handlooms are majorly weaved in rural and semi-rural areas of Odisha. The artisans are carrying their forefathers skills of weaving the fabrics and passing it to the next generation. Each thread is carefully spun in to the whole fabric which takes years of practice, hardwork, skills and understanding of the whole process. A single fabric can take months to make depending upon the intricacy of design.

Bomkai with traditional Odisha art Patachitra on it, by Samantas.

Samantas is a one of the most progressive design house with roots in Odisha that is trying to save and promote Odisha fabric.

Aparna Samantas, The Founder of Samantas.

“When a customer buys a product, they want some value out of it. We are not only focused on textile but also on the silhouettes. There is enormous talent in Odisha’s weavers and artisans which needs skills for market oriented design development and exposure,” says Aparna Samanta. “We are contemporizing the age old techniques of our handlooms with modern day silhouettes to approach a vast number of people. We want our artisans and their weaved fabrics to gain recognization in the world for their skills and craftmanship by amalgamating their handlooms with upto date pattern.”

Seems like the Odisha fabric may soon go global!

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