what is so special about Sambalpuri handloom? why it is so pupular?

Sep 30, 2021

Sambalpur a district located in the western part of the state of Odisha, India is famous all over the world for its Sambalpuri handloom. These saris became trendy outside the state of Odisha after the ex-prime minister Indira Gandhi started wearing them.

There is no doubt about Sambalpuri sari or ikat (locally knowns as sadhi) being world-famous for its handwoven tradition. The sari is known for its fusion of traditional concepts like a wheel (chakra), flower (phula), shell (shankha), all of this have rooted symbolism with the traditional Odia color red, white, and black which is also the color of Lord Jagannatha’s face color but the factor that contributes most for its popularity is the traditional craftsmanship of the ‘Bandhakala’, the tie-dye art used for the wrap and the weft before their intricate weaves, which is also known as Sambalpuri ‘Ikkat’. This technique takes many weeks to complete. The process starts with tie-dyeing the threads and later weaving them into a fabric.

There are varieties of Sambalpuri sari which all are in high demand including Pasapali, Barpali, Sonepuri, Bomkai, and Bapta sari. Almost all of them are named after their place of origin and are known as Pata. For example, paintings on Tussar saris representing Mathura Vijay, Ayodhya Vijay, and Raslila owe their origin to ‘Raghuraipur Patta paintings’.

Fabric and design: The fabrics used in making Sambalpuri sari mirror an authentic style of craft known as ‘Baandha’ which is created using the tie-dye technique. The fabric are line in tune with the wished patterns to avoid intake of dyes and then dyed. Baandhas are created by craftsmen using the images of flowers, animals, plants, or with geometrical impressions. Recently, craftsmen started using new types of Baandhas depicting landscape, flower pod, and portrait. The unique specialty about this design is that it reflects identically on both sides of the fabric and once it is dyed it can never be dyed into any other color. This skilled technique permits a craftsman to sew colorful different designs and patterns into a fabric proficient in inspiring a thought or conveying a theme. Baandha art is migrated to Western Odisha with the Bhulia community. At that time these saris were known as ‘Bhulia Kapta’. Today the Baandha art is popularly known by its cultural and geographical name Sambalpuri handloom. Now, Sambalpuri textiles manufacture furnishing materials, saris in cotton, silk, mercerized cotton, and dressing materials in various colors and designs. Today craftsmen are also good at the extra weft and extra warp style of designing which are popular in most forms of Baandha textiles. Khadi textiles are also being introduced in Baandha art form.