This National Handloom Day take a look at Karnataka's rich weaves

Every Indian state has its own unique handloom industry. Karnataka’s handloom industry however has the greatest number of GI tags with many weaves produced across the state.

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Saturday, August 06, 2022, 04:44 PM IST
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Ilkal Saree and Kasuti Saree | Wikimedia Commons/Silkal

The Ministry of Textiles will be hosting the eighth National Handloom Day on August 7. Since 2015, we Indians have been celebrating August 7 as the Handloom Day in honour of the handloom industry and its weavers.

You must have wondered why August 7 of all dates? While honouring the weavers, the day also commemorates Swadeshi Andolan which began in 1905 on the same day. The movement that encouraged Indians to wear clothes that were handwoven by indigenious communities instead of those foreign-made clothes that were in vogue during British Raj.

A report quoted minister of state for textiles Darshana Jardosh as saying, “Handloom is a symbol of our glorious cultural heritage and an important source of livelihood. the Ministry of Textiles will organise the 8th National Handloom Day on 7th August 2022.”

Every Indian state has its own unique handloom industry. Karnataka’s handloom industry however has the greatest number of GI tags with many weaves produced across the state.

GI Tag is an abbreviation of Geographical Indication, is an especial identity of any region, town or state.

The variety of handloom products in the state differs through the region with both silk and cotton being woven in the drier interior parts of the state and mostly cotton is woven in coastal regions such as Mangalore.

Handloom Products in Karnataka

Ilkal Saree

Named after a town in Bagalkot district of Northern Karnataka, Ilkal sarees are famous for their unique style. The style of saree is popular in both Maharashtra and Karnataka. The fairly basic make-up of this saree renders it the quality to standout.

Ilkal sarees typically have a coloured body (which may be plain or with checks) with contrasting borders and pallu, usually in darker colours. The pallu consists of two or three off-white stripes, several inches in width, alternated with whatever colours that the borders are in.

Kasuti Embroidery

The Kasuti embroidery dates back to the Chalukya period; the embroidery pattern done with cotton on Ilkal and Kanchipuram sarees was popular across Karnataka. The designs are inspired from traditional rangoli designs spotted across Karnataka.

The technique itself is of such a nature that the designs will appear more or less the same regardless of which side they’re being viewed from, with no loose ends. Although the embroidery’s GI tag is with Karnataka, the style does not appear to be specifically tied to a place in state like Ilkal sarees.

Mangalore Handlooms

Mangalore or Mangaluru handloom sarees are actually similar to those woven in Kasaragod district in Kerala. However, Mangalore sarees have smaller borders with extra-warp designs (around two inches in width), with the border matching the pallu.

While Kasaragod Sarees have been promoted to a large extent, Mangalore handlooms is still appreciated less and is sold for one-third price than that of a Kasaragod saree.

Mysore Silk

Mysore silk—known for its unique texture and unique designs—is a light and easy to drape saree. The nature resembles to fabrics like chiffon or georgette. Mysuru or Mysore silk sarees have simple designs which feature zari borders, stripes in pallu. The pally instead of being woven in contrasting colour, is dyed.

The Mysore silk sarees feature motifs like mango buttis and floral borders to make them more appealing and fashionable. It may seem surprising that the sarees are woven with 65% gold threads which gives it a natural sheen that does not fade away despite repeated use.

The heavily ornamented Mysore silk saree gives a royal look and is preferred for special occasions, less ornamented sarees are worn everyday.

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