Pochampally ikat, is a type of silk that finds its origin in a small town of Andhra Pradesh (now Telangana), Bhoodan Pochampally. Dubbed as the “Silk City of India”, the town is known for giving the world a fabric that can rival any other Ikat production in the country. The silk saree boasts of blending comfort with the usual grandeur meant for silk sarees, to perfection. Which means that if you aren’t a typical saree wearer, this is the perfect way to break in.
One of the most telling signs of the saree is the mesmerising geometric pattern that spreads all over the garment giving it a perfect trance-y feel. So if you are sporting a Pochampally saree, get ready for all the compliments too.
Origin and history
Bhoodan Pochampally marked its rightful place in Indian history as a silk mine in the 18th century. The weaving process of the traditional Pochampally ikat sarees is said to be brought to the small town of Pochampally from Chirala where the art was locally referred to as chit-ku. The technique has been widely applauded because of the fabric’s unique identity, as compared to other Ikat producing units.
Starting with a small pool of weavers, the town soon came to be known for the classic fabric that they could produce, one that could compete with every silk manufacturer in the country. By 1999, the manufacturing unit had grown to over ten thousand families, and the process was more maker-friendly, cost effective and time saving.
With the introduction of machines in 2000, Pochampally ikat sarees were not just produced faster and without error, but also with precision and a perfection that was hard to find elsewhere.
The uniqueness of Pochampally ikat lies is the smoothness and neatness with which it can get the design onto the fabric.
Ikats are normally of two types –single ikat, where only the warp is tie-dyed and interwoven with the weft, which is either uncoloured or has only one basic colour; and double ikats where both, warp and weft are tie-dyed and positioned in such a way that they work together to create the specific design with that signature bleed. Pochampally ikat uses double ikat and boasts of transferring the intricate design onto the fabric with nothing short of perfection. The colour of the fabric, like most ikat fabrics, is obtained from natural sources. The fabric itself alternates between cotton, silk and sico, which is a blend of silk and cotton).
The weaving of a Pochampally ikat saree takes one family of four people, 10 days to weave. The hard work and manual labour show in the perfect product that you eventually hold in your hands.
The weaving takes place not just in the village of Pochampally but also Koyalgudam, Chowtuppala, Srirpuram, Bhubangiri, Chuigottala and Galteppala and a few villages in Nalgonda district.
One of the most telling signs of a Pochampally silk saree is the intricate geometric design spread over the fabric. The minute detailing gives it a very captivating effect; if you look at the design directly it can actually have a hypnotizing effect.
The silk sarees are also extremely lightweight and comfortable so they make for a perfect summer wear option especially in Indian weather. The rich lustre of silk also makes it a great festive choice. Hello summer weddings!
Pochampally ikat sarees get their colour from natural sources only. The colours are normally bright with orange, yellow, dull gold and pink ruling the roost. The pattern is mostly dull gold, but with the introduction of new motifs, you’ll often find brighter colours present in the design too.
Pochampally ikat sarees are famous of the geometric patterns on them. However, modern Pochampally sarees borrow heavily from the Patola sarees of Gujarat, which means that the motifs are a mix of elephants, parrots, dancing girls and flowers. The traditional motifs are interspersed within the geometric grid, that is unique to the saree.
Today, the Pochampally ikat weave is not just limited to sarees. With the introduction of machines that cut down on labour cost and time, Pochampally ikat finds its way onto dress pieces, bedsheets, bet covers, and other home décor items too.
Current state of the art
Pochampally started out with traditional looms and age-old design elements but today the industry is home to more than ten thousand families in over a hundred villages.
The fabric, which received the coveted Geographical Indication (GI) status in 2005, is marketed to the general public through cooperative societies, official organisations (Pochampally ikat is the registered property of Pochampally Handloom Weavers Cooperative Society and the Pochampally Handloom Tie and Dye Silk Sarees Manufacturers Association) and local business houses. The sales figures stand at a whopping 100,000,000 INR. The art has also found place in UNESCO’s (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) tentative list of world heritage sites as part of “iconic saree weaving clusters of India.”
Indian designers like Rahul Mishra are keen to bring this textile art into the limelight and designer ikat sarees can be seen on sale at all Taj Khazana stores across Taj Hotels in the country. Bollywood actor, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan wore a Pochampally saree on her wedding day. Indian government’s official air carrier, Air India air hostesses also wear specially designed Pochampally silk sarees.
With e-retailing entering the market, you can pick up a Pochampally saree for anything between Rs.8,000 and Rs.15,000, while designer options can range between Rs.30,000 to Rs.1,00,000.
- One sure shot way to identify a Pochampally ikat saree is the texture. Pochampally is smoother than other ikat fabrics and isn’t quite as heavy.
- The geometric design on Pochampally sarees is also a stand-out feature.
- You can also look for the GI tag on Pochampally ikat sarees.
The best route to take is dry cleaning, but if you are forced to wash the saree at home, for the first three times, soak the saree in cold water and avoid using detergent. This helps preserve the lustre and sheen of the saree. Always use a mild detergent and keep the saree neatly folded, in a saree bag, at all times. In fact, it is a good idea to change the saree fold once every month to avoid permanent creases.
|KNOW YOUR CRAFT: POCHAMPALLY IKAT
|Technique||Handloom||Distinguishing factor||Smooth texture and geometric grid design; GI tag|
|Place of origin||Bhoodan, Pochampally, Andhra Pradesh||Materials used||Silk, cotton and sico yarn, and natural dyes|
|Manufacturing hubs||Pochampally, Koyalgudam, Chowtuppala, Srirpuram, Bhubangiri, Chuigottala and Galteppala and a few villages in Nalgonda district||Time taken to weave||10 days|
|Type of fabric||Silk, cotton, sico||Varieties||Silk, cotton and sico|
|Colours||Bright colours like orange, yellow, dull gold and pink||Price||Rs.8,000 to Rs.15,000|
|Motifs||Geometric grid design with motifs like parrots, elephants, dancing girls and flowers||Care||Dry clean and store in a muslin cloth. Change folds from time to time|
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