All about the origin and trends of Sambalpuri sarees
When we talk about the cultural heritage of India, an integral part of our rich culture is our ethnic costumes and the handloom techniques that have been prevalent. No matter how the fashion trend changes, ethnic Indian costumes always have their place in our hearts. Saree is one such part of our ethnicity. And hand woven cotton sarees always have their special place. When we talk about chic cotton sarees, one of the popular names that comes up is the Sambalpuri saree. This is woven by the traditional Ikat technique.
A brief about Ikat:
Ikat is one of the oldest weaving techniques where the yarns, before being woven into fabrics are dyed. Then the woven yarns align to form various patterns. Ikat fabrics are hard to duplicate and no other printing or dyeing technique can replicate the splendor in a genuinely done Ikat fabric. Ikat fabrics could be of warp Ikat, weft Ikat or double Ikat. Double Ikat is the toughest among the 3 and is the most unique type as well.
What are Sambalpuri sarees?
Nothing defines elegance as beautifully as Sambalpuri sarees do. Having their origins in the beautiful Sambalpur region in western Odisha, these sarees are woven by the traditional double Ikat techniques. Though it has been years since the Sambalpuri sarees came into the picture, there is hardly any technique that can beat or even closely match the sheer grace in an original hand woven Sambalpuri saree.
So what makes this saree so special?
Double Ikat technique, in itself, is quite tedious and has to be meticulously done to obtain the perfect finish. The motifs on the Sambalpuri sarees are mostly flora, fauna or even interesting geometric patterns. All of these, to be obtained with finesse, through the double Ikat technique, is quite a task. In brief, in the double Ikat technique,
- The weaver places down the yarns before weaving
- He finalizes the designs and figures out the patterns of dyeing the yarns
- The weft yarns and the warp yarns are both dyed in specific patterns
- The dyed warp yarns are aligned in the loom
- The weaver then skillfully hand-weaves the dyed weft yarn.
- After each loop, the weft yarn is aligned.
- The design magically appears as the weaver completes the fabric.
No machine can reproduce this magic in the Sambalpuri saree weaving.
Types of Sambalpuri sarees:
There are many popular types of Sambalpuri sarees available.
Most of these names are from their respective places of origin.
- Pasapali sarees:
This is a type of Sambalpuri woven in silk. The literal meaning of the word “Pasa” is “chess”. The name denotes the main theme of the Pasapali sarees. These consist mainly of checkerboard patterns in various variants and color combinations. Their unique symmetry makes them stand out. Red, black and white are the colors predominantly chosen for these patterns. The base of the saree is mainly pure organic cotton, silk, and tassar in various combinations. Pure silk threads are then woven to add a touch of luxury to the elegant Pasa patterns. These sarees also come with beautifully woven borders (or aanchal as they are called). Some of the most common designs you are likely to find in the aanchal of the Pasapali sarees are flora, fauna, wheel, and even some complicated landscape patterns.
- Sonepuri sarees:
Popularly known as the Bomkai sarees, these are the most famous forms of Sambalpuri sarees mainly having their origins in the Bomkai region in Odisha. You would be able to find Bomkai sarees made of silk as well as those made of cotton. This is one saree that has inspired a lot of fashion designers and fashionistas. There are several celebrities who have donned beautiful Bomkai sarees for special events. In the past, Bomkai sarees were mainly made for the family of the Kings. Bomkai sarees were and still are great symbols of luxury. Be it the stunning designs or the unique yarn and the fabric material, every aspect of the Bomkai sarees talks for itself. Fish, which was believed to be a symbol of fame and victory, can be seen as a part of the design in some part of the saree. Like the Pasapali sarees, Bomkai too comes with uniquely done borders. One unique aspect that distinguishes the Bomkai sarees is the border which carries designs primarily like repetitive temple like structure or diamonds, pots or beads. With the evolving fashion trends, Bomkai sarees today have in them a lot of contemporary designs as well.
- Bapta sarees:
The word “Bapta” comes from the unique fabric of the Bapta sarees which consists of a unique blend of silk and cotton yarns. In the beginning, a combination of lotus fibers and wool was also used to weave Bapta sarees. Today, one of the most unique aspects of the Bapta sarees is the smooth fabric and the sheen it possesses like no other. This type of Sambalpuri sarees also come in vibrant colors with beautifully done motifs in the body and the aanchal.
- Barpali sarees:
Barpali in Odisha is one of the most popular regions when it comes to handlooms. These are also intricately woven with unique designs. Silk thread is beautifully incorporated as a part of the weaving. This type of saree is unique to the beautiful Barpali region in Western part of Odisha. This densely populated area has over a 1000 handlooms. The prints on Tassar silk are quite famous from the Barpali region. The weavers have learned their skills from their ancestors and few of them have also inculcated a good mix of some new weaving techniques in their looms along with their traditional methods to produce finer designs and to hasten the entire process.
Sambalpuri saree trends:
- Some fashion trends are timeless. Sambalpuri sarees is one such fashion trend. It keeps gaining popularity and the pure charm in these hand woven sarees makes them even more special.
- Political leaders like Indira Gandhi, and even popular film and TV personalities have been seen wearing Sambalpuri sarees. Stars from Bollywood, Oliwood and Tollywood have been spoted wearing Sambalpuri designer sarees in various parties and fuctions.
- There are designers who have launched their ramps inspired by the Smabalpuri saree patterns
- Making a single saree still takes months. So each saree is unique.
- The traditional artisans also use vibrant dyes to make some lively colors that make these sarees even prettier.
Sambalpuri sarees styling tips:
If there is one ethnic outfit in which you are sure to look effortlessly gorgeous, it is a Sambalpuri saree. The coarse and unique texture of the fabric is something you will get in no other saree. If you are looking for a softer Ikat saree, go for Bapta sarees. There is a Sambalpuri saree for every occasion. So a good Sambalpuri saree is definitely a wardrobe essential. Few ways to style your Sambalpuri sarees:
- Simpler geometric patterns are great for a casual wear.
- Sambalpuri sarees, with their grace and sophistication, are excellent choices to be worn to the office. The breathable hand woven fabric keeps you comfortable all day long.
- Choose merrier colors to wear on a casual outing.
- The posh Bomkai sarees are great for festivals and special occasions. They are light on weight unlike many other traditional embellished varieties of sarees yet possess a unique touch of poise. So you could easily look grand for any occasion without a heavy saree.
- Sambalpuri sarees come with bolder contemporary designs as well so they never go out of trend
- Mix and match your blouse and choose solid colored ones with trendy necklines to make a unique style statement with a Sambalpuri saree.
- Terracotta jewelry is something that perfectly complements almost any Sambalpuri saree. The vivacious colors of the Sambalpuri sarees, when matched with terracotta jewels of the same color can make you obtain the perfect casual ethnic look.
- With earthy tones and simpler patterns of Sambalpuri sarees, especially ones that have rich designs in the borders, antique jewelry and Dhokra jewelry can be worn to look simple and graceful.
- For a festival or a special occasion, you could pair your Bomkai sarees with American Diamond jewelry or gold jewelry to look grand.
- A pair of mojaris or any traditional footwear perfectly blend with the looks when you don a Sambalpuri saree.
- You could also wear embellished sandals or stilettos along with Bomkai for extra grandeur.
Caring for your Sambalpuri saree:
Like most other handcrafted fabrics, the Sambalpuri sarees also need gentle care.
- Dyes of any color tend to bleed. Remember to wash your Sambalpuri sarees separately.
- Hand washing them is great. If you machine wash them tumble dry low to preserve the health of the fabric
- The uniqueness of Sambalpuri fabric is that colors tend to appear even brighter after few washes. So you will have them looking good as new.
- Do not wring them with too much pressure as it might damage the yarns in the long run
- Avoid drying Sambalpuri sarees under direct sunlight. The dyes might start fading if you dried under harsh sunlight often.
- Avoid using any rough detergents, bleach or other harsh chemicals on the sarees
- For removing stains from the sarees, always use safer natural techniques specific to the fabric of your saree so as to retain its nature.
This unique type of sarees would make a valuable addition to any woman’s wardrobe. One can never have enough of Sambalpuri sarees. So these sarees are your best bets when you want to gifts someone something unique. You could never go wrong if you choose from our unique collection of Sambalpuri sarees. Each of them in our product range is handcrafted by the traditional artisans if Odisha.