Written by : B. Chandankumar, Assistant Director(Insp.), SMOI, Central Silk Board, Hyderabad
Pochampalli – the silk city of Andhra Pradesh consisting of 10,000 weaver families spread over to 100 villages is famous for “Pochampalli sarees” with a unique tie & dye design- a sought after delicacy of the modern woman. Surrounded by hills, tanks and ponds and lush green fields, spread-out silk warps, neera tapping from palm trees, mat making women, bustled with shuttle sounds, Pochampally has earned a name to reckon with in the map of popular weaving clusters of India.
Pochampalli is well known for the bhoodan movement of Vinoba Bhave and hence fondly known as Bhoodan Pochampalli. Acharya Vinoba Bhave, (Shri Vinayak Narahari Bhave), teacher of Non-Violence and Human Rights was at Pochampally on 18th April 1951. Inspired by Acharya Vinoba Bhave’s proposal to resolve the problem of providing land to landless villagers, Shri Vedre Ramchandra Reddy, a local landlord of 46 years old spontaneously offered to donate his own land of about 250 Acres for distribution among the local villagers, igniting the bhoodaan movement throughout the independent India.
Pochampalli is the place where threads and colours find their way into the hands of skillful weavers where it is transformed into exotic sarees with intricate magical designs based on Ikats. Basking under the glory on par with the weaves of Kanchi, Dharmavaram, Gadwal, Venkatagiri, the uniqueness of Pochampalli sarees lies in the transfer of design and colouring onto warp and weft threads first and then weave them together forming electrifying patterns on the body and pallu.
Silk Weaving in Andhra
The state of Andhra Pradesh has silk manufacturing and processing pockets in the Districts of East Godavari (Uppada, Peddapuram), Mahaboobnagar (Narayanpet), Gadwal, Anantapur, Dharmavaram, Hindupur, Krishna (Machilipatnam), Nalgonda (Pochampally), Chittoor (Madanapalle). Pochampally (17° 23′ N, 78° 38′ E) in the district of Nalgonda, Andhra Pradesh is famously known as Bhoodan Pochampally.
The people from this special land have lot of patience and perseverance to produce the designs requiring a lot of co-ordination in each set of processes, with utmost concentration & care not to loose even a single thread which plays its own role in forming the required design. Pochampally is known for the unique type of designing known by names Ikat, Ikat, Ikath, Tie And Dye or Pochampally Design. However, origin of these designs is Chirala a town in the district of Guntur, Andhra Pradesh.
The Pochampalli style
Design containing 3 to 4 colours in general is drawn on to a graph sheet to decide the requirement of number of ends and picks for a given design Motif, accordingly dyeing warp and weft yarn groups after tying them by rubber bands, as many number of times as the number of colours for a given design. Spectacular designs are produced using the combination of colours, counts, pitch of threads etc. Once the fabric is made, one can see an aura of colour around each motive due to difference of millimeters in setting the design while hand weaving of the fabric.
Yarns are subjected to three ways of preparation for making Ikat designs as detailed below.
Whole weft yarn dyeing and tying & dyeing of warp yarn, results in warp Ikat.
- Whole warp yarn dyeing and tying & dyeing of weft yarn, results in weft Ikat. and
- Tying & dyeing of both warp and weft yarn, results in double Ikat.
Around 50 mtrs. of fabric (approximately 8 Sarees length) can be woven in one to two months depending on the intricacy of the design, number of colours, count of the threads used, type of preparation of threads & seasonal changes.
Considering the fact that the silks tend to loose some dye stuff particularly during washing and perspiration, which may result in running of different colours in to each other, which may defeat the entire efforts of every artisan, who puts his innovative thoughts and workmanship into the fabric, weavers ensure that they use only those colours which are having better fastness to washing, perspiration and water.
Features of Pochampally designs
They are perfectly reversible with same appearance of the design on both sides making them most suitable for sarees, dupattas, Scarves& Stoles which tend to folding and curtains for getting similar look from either side.
Design Motifs are produced by using the yarn tie and dye effect, unlike checks and bar or stripe effects produced when yarns are dyes wholly and used for dyeing. Each and every thread is adjusted before it is set in to weaving of the fabric producing exquisite effects by a little deviation in setting the threads while weaving, which will be difficult to make on power looms due to high speed and the precision of Power looms may snatch the natural effect induced by human hands, thus the popularity of the design.
Andhra Pradesh State Weavers Co-operative Society under the state government is playing vital role in merchandising the pochampally products in the country, while, Ministry of Textiles, Govt of India has initiated efforts yielding positive results in setting up huge Handloom Park (Member of Silk Mark Organisation of India and Authorised User of Silk Mark) located near pochampally, providing support to the artisans and weavers. Channellising this household cottage based traditional artistry by innovating and modernizing the designs, & varieties. The Handloom Park is preparing itself to flood the international market with never seen before designs and varieties in the form of Sarees, Furnishings, Garments & Ties, Upholsteries, Made-ups viz, (Scarves & Stoles, Cushion Covers, Place mats to name a few) protecting the age old Indian tradition even in the era of IT boom.
The Pochampally facts
- Pochampally is the single largest Handloom Tie & Dye Cluster with about 2000 Pitlooms and around 5000 artisans most of them are called Padmasali Community.
- Weaving is the main livelihood for the people of Pochampally.
- Efforts by Ministry of Textiles, Govt. of India resulted in setting up Pochampally Handloom Park giving new & 3G dimension to Pochampally Designs & making them more popular in the domestic and International market.
- Pochampally Ikat is the first from the traditional craft sector awarded a Geographical Indication status under Indian GI Act, 1999.
- Co-operative Societies, Independent Weavers and Master Weavers are competing among themselves to reach Pochampally designs.
- Andhra Pradesh State Weavers Co-operative Society Ltd (APCO), Special member of Silk Mark Organisation of India is playing very important role in procuring and distributing most of the pochampally products.
- More than 50% of Pochampally population is directly or indirectly engaged in producing Pochampally Ikats.
- Initially the all natural dyes were used to make Ikat designs, due to intricacy of designs and cost of production, synthetic dyes gradually replaced the natural ones.
- Pochampally is about 50 Kms. from Hyderabad, the capital City of Andhra Pradesh.
- More the number of colours used more would be the time and labour consumed, hence higher cost of production on handlooms.
- One can comfortably change the design for every 50 Mtr, making it possible to get varieties of designs in short intervals.
Caring Pochampalli Craft: Suggestions
- Most of the siblings of Padmasali Community are switching over to apparently lucrative Jobs outside, leaving the very base of artistry to fade away with their elders.
- In spite of huge efforts from the Departments of Ministry of Textiles, response is missing in the cluster of Ikats.
- Textile Technologists should come forward to study the basic process and development help the artisans with easier way of Ikat manufacturing.
- Designers with their innovative should accept the challenge of testing the skills of Ikat artisans, with buy back facility.
- Textile and Designing Students should be given the task of studying such Clusters Technically for their thesis.
- Artisans from the clusters should be made to compete in making best designs & qualities and honor them accordingly to instill josh.
- Hospitality sector should be enlightened with different varieties from all clusters and motivate them to use the products to make a positive turnaround.
- Exclusive websites should be opened for each cluster, giving entire information making it closer to the large scale buyers, designers, students & consumers, with facility of online buying.
- Relevant organizations should compulsorily provide opportunity to the clusters in the exhibitions organized by them in national as well as international platforms.