The handloom sarees of Venkatagiri are famous for its softness and durability. These sarees are soft and comfortable to wear and also suites all the climates. Mainly Venkatagiri looms manufacture sarees, but now as per demand dress materials are also weaved. Venkatagiri sarees are not exported outside India but there is a huge demand all over India.
History of Venkatagiri Sarees:
Venkatagiri is a small village in Nellore district in the state of Andhra Pradesh. Venkatagiri's old name is "Kali Mili Gobburi Jaggaraju was the king who was ruling Venkatagiri kingdom in the name of "Kalimili". He was the father-in-law of the Chandragiri king Venkatapathiraju. He was defeated by Sri Krishnadevaraya's representative and Velugodu ruler Venkatadrinaidu .He renamed Kalimili with Vaishanava name "Venkatagiri" and ruled the land. Venkatagiri kingdom was established in Nalgonda Dist in Amanagallu village around 1120AD.
This is a small town which is famous because of the variety of handlooms. The village has a population of around 50,000. The main castes which are involved in the handloom industry are Padmasali, Devanga, Pattusali and Karnasali which accounts to 30% of the population. There are around 10,000 looms in this small village.
Venkatagiri has got its own unique weaving excellence and one can specify and get a designer saree for a price. In fact in the earlier days these weavers used to weave very few sarees for the Kings, and the remuneration they got from them was very much sufficient for whole of the year. Two major communities Padmasali and Devanga are engaged in weaving profession in the area in Manulalapet and Bangarupet. Devanga community weavers are in this profession from 1600 AD onwards; all are migrated here from Kadapa district in 1600 AD. Venkatagiri is famous for "Jamdani" design which was imported from Bangladesh. Four Venkatagiri weavers won President’s Award for weaving this design.
Weaving of Venkatagiri Sarees:
The weavers in Venkatagiri mainly produce sarees of Cotton, Cotton and Silk mix and pure Silk. The counts in the fabric give the softness to the fabric. More the counts softer will be fabric and lesser counts produce harder fabrics. The counts used in cotton are usually 100 (length) – 100 (breadth) and in silk it is 3 ply.
Dyeing :- First the yarn is washed and then dipped in the required colour which is in a boiler and the [Charka] worker goes on turning the yarn so that the colour is evenly mixed in the yarn. The most important aspect in this process is the mixing of colours which will give unique and durable colour to the fabric. Then it is again washed and dried. These yarns are then starched. Starching of the yarn is where the colour in the yarn will get more permanent nature and gives the yarn a polished look. The starched yarn is brought from the merchants by master weavers and is distributed to weavers. (Master weavers are also weavers but they will be having a group of weavers under them). Then it is turned in a charka. The turning in charka is where the yarn will become thread, which is used for wept.
The loading of yarn in warp is the next process. Then yarn is loaded into the looms. The length of yarn which is loaded as warp is known as Pacham. A weaver can make four sarees from one pacham. It will take a week to weave one Pacham of four sarees.
Weaving :- The looms used in Venkatagiri are mostly pit looms. Pit looms are looms [Venkatagiri Pit Loom] which are fixed in the ground level and there will be a pit in which looms peddle will be placed and the weaver will sit on the floor and use his hands and legs to weave.
The weavers are into this profession traditionally. None of the weavers are trained but they have acquired this unique skill hereditarily from their ancestors. The art of weaving is passed on by way of vision and practice. There are no theoretical explanations or training for weaving. But unfortunately due to the low wages the traditional weavers are opting out of this industry. New generation is not interested in this profession due to the low wages prevailing in the industry. Since Venkatagiri looms are pit looms, during rainy season the looms are closed due to the rain water getting clogged in the ground.
Venkatagiri Saree Motifs:
Placing a big single jamdhani motif of a peacock or a parrot (generally mirror repeated) in the pallu is typical traditional style of Venkatagiri. The primarily pattern of the sarees include, a bold ribbon of zari as border, and in the pallu of the sari, with traditional peacock, swan, mango, leaf and gold coin(asharfi) designs interspersed all over the saree.
The all-over Venkatagiri brocade was known as kimkhab, which has been interpreted to mean no less than a dream, generally carried patterns of jal, a trellis, enclosing stylized buta, or traditional circular roundel, known as ashrafi. Besides, there are the more complicated all-over patterns of shikargah, the hunting scene. The complex pattern would often depict a flowing creeper intermingling with animals, birds and elephants with howdahs, carrying a hunting party. These designs can only be prepared by master jala workers, the designer and creators of the master pattern, since they successfully camouflage the repeat in the patterns.
|An award winning Venkatagiri saree in Jamdani design by Sant Kabir award recipient and Venkatagiri weaver G. Ramanaiah|
|Venkatagiri Sarees Mirrored Flower Motif|
|Venkatagiri Sarees Parrot Motif|
|Venkatagiri Sarees Mirrored Peacock|
|Venkatagiri Sarees Peacock and Sitar|
|Venkatagiri Sarees Flower Trellis|
|Venkatagiri Sarees Lotus Motif|
|Venkatagiri Sarees Paisley Butta|
|Venkatagiri Sarees Twin Peacock Motif|
|Venkatagiri Sarees Swan Motif|
Future of Venkatagiri sarees:
With the registration of GI, Venkatagiri Sarees are now better protected against the counterfeits in the market. The registration, that provides an assurance of authenticity, is expected to boost the export opportunities for the iconic product. As per the GI Act, only a registered proprietor or a registered user can manufacture, sell, offer for sale or export the GI product. Any unauthorized dealing with the registered goods is deemed to be an infringement which exposes the infringer to liability under the Act.