The state of Odisha has a thriving textile industry and Odisha Handlooms has a long-linked history. The origins of handloom in Odisha are years old and the art of producing this craft has been handed down through generations.
The state has a long history of creating exquisite handloom fabrics that are prized for their intricate patterns, vivid colors, and high quality. The “Ikat” and “Bandha” styles of weaving, are just two examples of the distinctive weaving techniques used by the Odisha handloom.
Odisha not being a cotton-growing state, still got its reputation in the world for handlooms, because of these years-old techniques of creating patterns on fabric.
Handloom weaving is the unique craftmanship of Odia weavers. The exquisite hand-woven textiles made here are an essential component of the local culture.
In the state of Odisha, the Handloom industry not just has a great cultural significance but also maintains and promotes the traditional art and craft.
The economy of most of the district in Orissa is highly dependent on the respective Handloom industries. Handloom is the sole source of income for many weaver communities.
These artisans use it as a way to showcase their special talents and express their creativity, and culture in addition to making a living.
Additionally, the handloom sector is essential in empowering women because many of the weavers in Odisha are female. These weavers support their families and have become financially independent
How handlooms are made in Odisha
In Odisha, different hand-weaving techniques are used to produce the world-famous intricate designs or patterns on the fabric.
Loom is a small machine, which is used for weaving. When a loom is operated by hand without electricity to weave is called a handloom.
Usually, the loom is made up of wood or bamboo.
Four important steps involved in manufacturing of handloom fabrics are :
- The yarn (cotton or silk) gets tied to a wooden frame, and evenly distributed. This helps to improve the consistency of the yarn.
- In the second step, a bunch of threads are tied against the loom, and then different marks are made on the threads according to the specific design.
- This is the step, where colors are applied to the fabric. The tied cluster of yarn or thread is dipped into either natural or color dye. All area of the yarn without a tie gets the color in this step.
- Now the important step of weaving comes. According to the design, the skilled labors start weaving the yarn.
Significance of the design
The designs have a unique feature along with the dye. They mostly use natural dyes for coloring the fabrics, but in last years the trend has changed.
The natural dyes make these textiles environment. The distinctive and vibrant color palette is a result of this natural dye.
Natural dyes are extracted from different natural substances, hence mostly are safe for the skin. With year old traditional method, these dyes are prepared from the bark of trees, minerals, colorful flowers, rust, etc. Even different Vegetables are also used to prepare dyes.
Then these dyes are applied in a specific manner on different fabrics to create a pattern. Different patterns have unique styles of applying dyes.
The unique Motifs often show the cultural heritage of Odisha, which may range from unique geometrical patterns to intricate representations of regional wildlife, plants, and religious
Handloom Clusters in Odisha
There are many handloom clusters in Odisha. Each cluster shows the tradition of the specific regions and communities. Every cluster has its unique weaving styles and patterns of designs.
They have helped the state to preserve the knowledge of superb craftsmanship, which is many generations old.
Sambalpuri Handloom Cluster
Sambalpuri saree is famous for its “Bandha” technique of weaving. Sambalpur and Bargarh districts are considered the Sambalpuri handloom cluster.
Along with sarees, the cluster also produces fabrics in the form of dress materials, stoles, dupattas, and home decor items.
As said, Sambalpuri sarees use the IKAT method for producing fabric. IKAT means to tie the threads. In the process, they tie a bunch of threads and tie them at different points according to design.
Then the yarn deeps into natural die, the untied area of yarn gets the color, and the tied area of yarn preserves the original color. This makes the design eye-catching and uniqueness of these sarees.
The pattern of the sarees may have any geometrical pattern or motifs like shankha (conch shell), chakra (wheel), phula (flower), and other traditional designs.
Bomkai Handloom Cluster
These famous handlooms originated from a village called Bomkai in Ganjam district. Traditionally the sarees were made out of cotton, but nowadays you can get Bomakai saree in different fabrics such as silk, pure silk, zari, etc.
An original Bomkai saree must have a bright color on the body and a contrasting color on the border and pallu. You can easily find these sarees in bright colors such as red, black, dark green, and dark blue.
The uniqueness of Bomkhai sarees is the hand-woven threads on the border area and pallu along with dots in between the design.
Along with geometric patterns, you can find the motif of animals and symbols here. A Saree with a motif of fish is very popular here.
Nuapatna Handloom Cluster
Nuapatna handloom originated from Nuapatana village, Which is in the Cuttack district. The tradition of weaving has a rich history associated with it.
They also use IKAT or Bandha techniques to produce intricate designs which include flowers, conch, elephants, etc.
Kotpad Handloom Cluster
The Kotpad region of the Koraput district is the cluster for the Kotpad handloom. The distinct feature of these sarees is the organically grown and hand-spunned yarn.
They use deep red natural dye, produced from the Indian Madder tree. The color mostly used to produce the saree are brown, black, and maroon.
Kotpad sarees feature traditional tribal designs that are inspired by the culture and heritage of the region. The patterns are usually simple and geometric, along with symbols inspired by nature.
Kotpad sarees have been given the Geographical Indication (GI) tag, which certifies their origin and authenticity.
Berhampur Handloom Cluster
Berhampur sarees are available in both silk and cotton variants, catering to different preferences and occasions.
The silk sarees, often called Berhampuri silk sarees, are particularly famous for their lustrous texture and beautiful drape, which makes them stand out in the crowd.
The cotton sarees are more lightweight and comfortable, ideal for everyday wear and casual occasions. Berhampur sarees often feature traditional motifs inspired by nature, religious themes, and local folklore.
The designs are intricately woven into the saree, reflecting the skill and artistry of the weavers. There is a huge variety of colors, they use natural dyes with synthetic colors.
Challenges for Odisha handloom
The handloom sector in Odisha has faced several challenges in recent years. One of the major threats to the years-long craft is competition from mechanized textile businesses.
They usually offer cheaper products and in a lesser time frame. As a result, handloom-produced goods are less in demand.
Additionally, because the handloom sector lacks technological innovation and modernization, weavers have found it difficult to keep up with changing market trends.
Also, a lack of suitable marketing and distribution channels has limited the reach and visibility of Odisha handloom items.
Odisha government has implemented a variety of efforts to revive the industry.
The Odisha Handloom and Handicrafts Development Corporation (OHDC) has contributed significantly to the marketing initiatives of weavers by providing them with financial help and training opportunities.
The government has also built handloom clusters and weaving centers to help weavers with infrastructure and technical support.
Through initiatives like the Comprehensive Handloom Cluster Development Scheme (CHCDS) and the National Handloom Development Programme (NHDP), weavers can also gain access to financial help and programs for skill development.
The contribution of NGOs and social enterprises to the global promotion of Odisha handloom
NGOs and social enterprises have been crucial in promoting Odisha’s handloom globally.
These organizations work to increase public understanding of the fine craftsmanship and extensive cultural legacy of Odisha handloom.
They collaborate with weavers to enhance their design skills, put sustainable practices into place, and improve the caliber of their output.
They also facilitate market connections and provide locations for weaving artists to display their creations.
Through exhibitions, trade fairs, and internet platforms, NGOs and social enterprises connect weavers with local and foreign customers, expanding their market reach and ensuring their ability to support themselve.
Sustainability - Odisha handloom
In Odisha, the handloom manufacturing process gives a strong emphasis on the use of natural and organic resources.
The weavers in all the clusters mostly use eco-friendly dyeing techniques, eschewing harmful chemicals in favor of natural dyes derived from plants and minerals.
By utilizing these tools and techniques, Odisha Handloom encourages green behavior and reduces the industry’s carbon footprint.
Conclusion - Odisha Handloom
In summary, the beauty and charm of Odisha’s handloom industry remain unrivaled, showcasing the true essence of craftsmanship and tradition.
If marketed correctly, it can catch the eyes of many customers at International level. Also, government should give more focus on exhibition, fairs etc.