"Ganesh Puja” to be celebrated by Lucknow Oriya Samaj on 13th September 2018

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Sarees of Orissa: A reflection of its traditions and culture

Saree, in the present day, is one of the most sensual attires of women. The history and origin of the Saree comes from the ancient Indus valley civilization of India. It is a fact that, Indian woman exclusively looks fabulous and stunning in a Saree. The Saree can be draped on the body with different styles and patterns. According to the style and pattern of draping of Sarees, one can easily identify a lady with that of the country or province to which she belongs to. Because, the style of wearing of Sarees is mostly influenced by the culture, geography and climate of the region. The Orissa Sarees, particularly used in the eastern region of India is famous for its silk and cotton and the traditional art-work.


Sarees of Indian Sub-continent: Types and Styles

Each region in the Indian subcontinent has developed, over the centuries, its own unique Saree style. But, the international image of the modern style Saree has been largely popularized by airline stewardesses. However, the well known Saree varieties available in the Indian sub-continent on the basis of their distinct fabric, weaving style and motif are as follows:

Northern styles

  • Banarasi – Uttar Pradesh
  • Shalu – Uttar Pradesh
  • Tanchoi- Uttar Pradesh

Western styles

  • Paithani – Maharashtra
  • Bandhani – Gujarat and Rajasthan
  • Kota doria – Rajasthan
  • Lugade – Maharashtra
  • Patola – Gujarat

Central styles

  • Chanderi – Madhya Pradesh
  • Maheshwari – Madhya Pradesh
  • Kosa Silk – Chattisgarh

Southern styles

  • Kanchipuram (locally called Kanjivaram) – Tamil Nadu
  • Kumbakonam – Tamil Nadu
  • Thirubuvabam – Tamil Nadu
  • Thanjavur – Tamil Nadu
  • Madurai – Tamil Nadu
  • Arani – Tamil Nadu
  • Pochampally – Andhra Pradesh
  • Venkatagiri – Andhra Pradesh
  • Gadwal – Andhra Pradesh
  • Guntur – Andhra Pradesh
  • Narayanpet – Andhra Pradesh
  • Mangalagiri – Andhra Pradesh
  • Balarampuram – Kerala
  • Mysore silk – Karnataka
  • Ilkal saree – Karnataka

Eastern styles

  • Tangail Cotton – Bangladesh
  • Jamdani – Bangladesh
  • Muslin – Bangladesh
  • Rajshahi Silk – Bangladesh
  • Tussar Silk – Bihar
  • Mooga Silk – Assam
  • Tant (famous Bengali cotton)-Shantipur, West Bengal
  • Dhaniakhali Cotton – West Bengal
  • Murshidabad Silk – West Bengal
  • Baluchari Silk – West Bengal
  • Sambalpuri Silk & Cotton –Sambalpur, Orissa
  • Kataki or Khandua Silk & Cotton –Cuttack, Orissa
  • Ikkat Silk & Cotton – Bargarh, Orissa
  • Bomkai/Sonepuri Silk & Cotton – Ganjam, Orissa
  • Berhampuri Silk – Bramhapur, Orissa
  • Mattha or Tussar Silk –Mayurbhanj, Orissa
  • Bapta Silk & Cotton –Koraput, Orissa
  • Tanta Cotton –Balasore and Cuttack, Orissa

Orissa Sarees: from classic to modern style

The traditional Saree of Orissa has an intimate connection with its culture and festivals. The four main colours used in the Sarees at Orissa are white, black, yellow and red, which are also the colors associated with Lord Jagannath. The motifs used on Orissa Saree like lotus, temple border, wheel and conch are also related to the deity. The tie-and-dye technique used by the weavers of Orissa to create motifs on these Sarees is unique to this region.

This technique also gives the Sarees of Orissa an identity of their own.

The art of Saree making is as old as the 15th Century. Special mention of the beautiful Sarees of Orissa is found in the poems written by Upendra Bhanja and Sarala Das. Upendra Bhanja's poem 'Labanyabati' has a description of the Saree worn by Labanyabati made of a very light and soft material.

The traditional Sarees belonging to Orissa have been greatly modified to meet the changing tastes and demands of the modern customers. But, now Orissa Sarees are also available in other colors like cream, maroon and brown with different motifs to compete in the international Saree market. The Saree of Orissa is much in demand throughout the entire world. The different colours and varieties of Sarees in Orissa make them very popular among the women of the state. The handloom Sarees available in Orissa can be of four major types as: Ikkat, Bandha, Bomkai and Pasapalli.

Sambalpuri Sarees are known for their traditional motifs, like shankha (shell), chakra (wheel), phula (flower) with deep symbolism, but the highpoint of these Sarees is their traditional craftsmanship of the 'Bandhakala', the tie-dye art reflected in their intricate weaves, also known as Sambalpuri "Ikkat". In this technique, the threads are first tie-dyed and later woven into a fabric, with entire process taking many weeks. These Sarees first became popular outside the State, when Former Prime Minister, Smt. Indira Gandhi started wearing them. Soon in the eighties and nineties, they became popular across India.

Ikkat Sarees: the fabricated beauty of Orissa

The ikkat sarees are the traditional Sarees made in dark colors like blue, magenta and red, with ikkat or tie and dye patterns. They are striking and attention-grabbing. Conventionally, the women of Orissa dress in Sarees with ikkat patterns. The patterning of ikkat is done by first dying the threads according to the pre-planned pattern layout and as the Saree is woven, the pattern emerges. The bold geometric and wide temple style borders render a unique style of Oriya culture and provide an intricate and attractive style of ikkat saree making.

Katki Saree: dedicated to Mahabahu

Kataki Saree and Khandua Patta is produced by the “Tantubaya” community of Cuttack district. The famous Katki Saree designs are the traditional designs possessed by Tantubaya community in the villages named Maniabandha and Nuapatna of Orissa. During the rule of Gajapati, Sarees and Khandua Patta were made and transported to Jagannath temple as traditional attire. These pattas were worn by Lord and his siblings. Famous art-works with Gitagovinda shlokas written on Patta specially dedicated to Lord Jagannath are now regularly supplied to the Temple.

Bapta Saree: increasing demand in the Islamic countries

Bapta Saree and Bapta Lungi: Bapta Lungi with Gopuram design especially are in great demand in Islamic countries like Dubai and Saudi Arabia in the present day. The traditional Islamic motifs on the fabric with its attracting colour are the special attraction of the Sarees.

Bomkai Saree: the gentle and elegant

Sonepuri Saree or Bomkai Saree is produced by the “Bhulia” community of Sonepur district of Orissa, India. But, the famous traditional Bomkai Saree designs are produced in the village named Bomkai of Ganjam district of Orissa. During the time of Ramai Dev, the then ruler of Patna, it was introduced in Sonepur. Now, Sonepur handloom Sarees, Sonepuri Paatas and silk Sarees are popular items displayed at various fashion shows. The Sonepuri Saree called Radhakunja was a great attraction in the weeding of Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai. The PTI reported that three Sonepuri Sarees used in the wedding were designed by master craftsman Chaturbhuja Meher at Sonepur and supplied to the Bachchans.

The Sarees of Orissa are gifted with charm and enormous appeal because of its high quality, fine texture, impressive colorful designs and beautiful traditional motifs. The Orissa Sarees bear a signature of its rich traditions and culture which get reflected in its colour, motif and design. But, now with the advent of modern age, Orissa Sarees are not that visible in our every day outfits. Still it is preferably used during special festivities, fashion galleries, and other liked and glamorous occasions.

C. S. Mohanty