Through the looms of Odisha

Through the looms of Odisha
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In recent years the textile industry of Odisha has gained a lot of government traction. The textile industry of Odisha is gaining traction form the government in the recent years. The government has introduced a lot of policies to support the textile industry Odisha as it is being positioned as an emerging hub for textile manufacturing in India. “Make in Odisha Conclave'', “Industrial Policy 2022”, “Odisha Apparel and Textile Policy”, “Odisha Logistic Policy 2022” and “Export Promotion Policy 2022”, are some of the initiatives the government has taken for a robust industrial ecosystem in Odisha.

But why is Odisha gaining so much traction?

Odisha is in a great spot because of its distinct advantages like its  convenience to access the ports, a skilled workforce, and its proximity to both raw materials and demand clusters. Odisha has received a lot of investments and government policies recently. The government is working on creating a top-notch textile park in the state.
Investment potential - Odisha offers an investor-friendly industrial environment with easy access to raw materials and manpower, making it an attractive destination for textile manufacturers looking to establish or expand their operations.
Government support - the government is supporting the textile industry of the state with numerous schemes and policies, further encouraging investment in the industry.
Abundance of raw material - Odisha is blessed with abundant resources including raw materials such as cotton, jute etc. providing a competitive edge and reducing production costs.
Skilled workforce - the state boasts a skilled manpower in various areas of textile manufacturing, including weaving, dyeing, and stitching, which is essential for the growth of the industry.
Proposed textile park - Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) is set to establish a textile park in Bhadrak, Odisha, which is projected to be operational by 2024, further bolstering the textile industry in the region.
During the 1960s and 1970s, numerous western fashion designers started including traditional Indian textiles and patterns in their fashion collections, contributing to the increased popularity of this craftsmanship. Consequently, by the 1980s, Sambalpuri handloom products were being exported globally, featured by various fashion designers and brands.

Rich crafts of Odisha

Sambalpuri Ikat: A riot of colors and patterns

One of the most renowned textiles of Odisha is Sambalpuri Ikat. The term "Ikat" refers to a resist dyeing technique used to pattern textiles. Sambalpuri Ikat involves a meticulous process of tying and dyeing the yarns before weaving them into intricate patterns. The result is a stunning display of vibrant colors and bold designs that make Sambalpuri sarees and dress materials highly sought after.
Unlike other Ikat patterns which are usually blurry and follow an abstract route, Sambalpuri motifs are more defined and acquire a specific shape like that of animals, flowers, Konark wheel, etc.
The craft of Sambalpuri Ikat is a closely guarded tradition passed down through generations. The artisans, mostly located in and around Sambalpur and Bargarh districts.
Sambalpuri Ikat is known for its striking colors and minutely detailed design and motifs. Throughout, a wide array of motifs are used - including geometrical themes, flora and fauna, landscapes, religious themes, and more. Recent developments witness new designs in Ikat depicting portraits, landscapes, and flower pods.

Bomkai sarees: Where tradition meets elegance

Bomkai sarees, also known as Sonepuri sarees, are another gem in Odisha's textile heritage. This unique textile is produced by combining two very popular elements of the Orissa textile industry. This fabric is created using an extra weft technique on a pit loom, and combines the techniques of Ikat and embroidery. The motifs and designs portray mythology and well-kept secrets of the past which makes it unique.
What sets Bomkai sarees apart is the amalgamation of traditional weaving techniques with contemporary designs. The weavers skillfully blend ethnicity with modern aesthetics, making Bomkai sarees a symbol of timeless elegance.

Nuapatna weaving

Nuapatna sarees are also known as Khandua Sarees. These sarees are characterised by the characteristic ikat patterns. The main difference between Nuapatna and Sambalpuri sarees is that the sambalpuri sarees have more elaborate and dense Ikat patterns, thereby making them more costly.
It is a significant textile, both aesthetically and culturally as a special variety of the same is worn by Lord Jagannath. Khandua was worn by the women of Odisha during wedding rituals, as it's considered very pious and religious.

Tanta, Kotpad, and other hidden treasures

In addition to the well-known textile traditions, Odisha boasts several hidden treasures in its weaving repertoire. Tanta, a form of handwoven cotton textile, is produced in the Ganjam district. Known for its simplicity and comfort, Tanta sarees are popular for everyday wear.
Kotpad handloom fabric, on the other hand, originates from the tribal areas of Koraput district. The unique feature of Kotpad fabric is the use of natural dyes derived from plants, giving the textiles earthy tones. The intricate tribal motifs and geometric patterns make Kotpad fabrics a reflection of the rich cultural heritage of the tribal communities in Odisha.

Odisha’s textile industry

Geographical Indication (GI) tags

Some of Odisha's textile products, including Sambalpuri Ikat and Bomkai sarees, have received Geographical Indication (GI) tags. This recognition helps protect the authenticity and uniqueness of these traditional weaves, ensuring that they are produced in specific regions following traditional methods.

Government initiatives

The government of Odisha has implemented various initiatives to support and promote the handloom and textile sector. These initiatives include financial assistance to weavers, skill development programs, and the establishment of handloom clusters to enhance production and marketing.
One of the initiatives has been Boyan Jyoti Yojana, which entails supply of improved looms and accessories, capacity building, training and exposure visits of weavers to established handloom clusters for knowledge acquisition are among the steps taken by the government.

Export and market presence

Odisha's handloom and textile products have found a market not only within India but also internationally. The unique designs, craftsmanship, and traditional appeal of Odisha's textiles contribute to their popularity among consumers who appreciate handcrafted and culturally rich products.
From tradition to global trend!

Innovation and collaboration

There has been a trend of collaboration between traditional weavers and contemporary designers. Such collaborations aim to bring fresh perspectives to traditional designs, making them relevant to modern fashion trends and appealing to a broader audience.

The economic aspect

The sector significantly contributes to employment generation and income, with many households engaged in weaving activities. Notably, the handwoven textiles, including Sambalpuri Ikat and Bomkai sarees, have gained international recognition, fostering export earnings and contributing to foreign exchange. Geographical Indication (GI) tags for certain textiles protect their authenticity and enhance market value. Additionally, the sector plays a crucial role in promoting small and medium enterprises, supporting the rural economy, and attracting tourism. Government initiatives and the adaptation of traditional crafts to contemporary markets further underscore the economic significance of Odisha's textile industry.

Sustainable threads

The rise of sustainable and eco-friendly fashion has led to a renewed appreciation for handcrafted textiles, positioning Odisha as a hub for ethically produced, artisanal fashion.
In a world increasingly conscious of its environmental footprint, Odisha's weavers are embracing sustainable practices. Natural dyes sourced from local flora, handloom techniques that reduce energy consumption, and ethical production practices are becoming defining features of Odisha's textile industry. This shift not only aligns with global trends but also ensures the preservation of age-old crafts for future generations.

A cross-pollination of textile traditions

Rajasthan, known for its vibrant tie-and-dye Bandhani and block-printed fabrics, has influenced the textile landscape of Odisha. The fusion of Rajasthani motifs with Odisha's traditional weaves has given birth to a unique hybrid, showcasing the dynamic nature of India's textile heritage.
The exchange of ideas and techniques between Odisha and Rajasthan has resulted in a fascinating fusion of styles. The incorporation of Rajasthani Bandhani into Odisha's textile repertoire, for instance, adds a playful twist to the traditional weaves. This cultural exchange not only enriches the textile heritage of both states but also creates a diverse tapestry that reflects the unity in India's diversity.
It becomes evident that each thread woven into the fabric carries the weight of tradition, innovation, and cultural legacy. From the ancient art of Ikat to the contemporary embrace of sustainability, Odisha's textile industry is a living testament to the resilience and creativity of its craftsmen. As the looms continue to hum with the rhythm of tradition, the textiles of Odisha stand as a vibrant symbol of India's rich and dynamic cultural heritage.