A whiff of saving breath in today’s age of power loom and digital prints comes from Koraput -the weave with healing qualities!
The more one gets into Indian weaves, the more one gets mesmerized with their stories of origin, evolution, and development.
The Mirgan community of Kotpad region, Koraput is often referred to as Kotpad, make Saris, Gamchas, and Tuvals. The saris are heavy or light depending on the occasion it is to be worn for e.g. for a wedding it is elaborate with exclusive borders and muhs or pallav, dominated by the kumbha.
Men wear it as ‘Tuval’, a lower garment which too has motifs and borders. Sarees worn by the women are both knee length, almost like a short skirt and ankle length. They are called ‘Aath’ (8) haath and ‘Solah’ (16) haath, respectively.
Koraput Motifs Inspired by Nature
Sambalpuri or Koraput Weave-the confusion
Even those who keenly follow sarees, weaves and fabrics sometimes wonder what the difference is between a Sambalpur and Koraput? There are mainly two differences. One that while Sambalpuri weave is done both on pit loom and jacquard loom, Koraput, also known as Kotpad is only made on the pit loom.
Also, Sambalpuri has the production advantage of setting up the loom once and making 10 to 20 sarees of the same design while a Kotpad can produce only one saree of a particular type can be woven once the loom is set.
Weaved in History
Folklore says Koraput is a named after Khora Naiko – a valiant warrior of Nandapur Kingdom. The Koraput cluster of villages includes Nawrangpur, Phulbani and Rayagada districts of the Eastern Ghat. A history that dates back to the 3rd century BCE, it was the home of valiant and dreaded Atvika people. Home to tribes like the Gond, Munda, Oraon, Santhal, Kondh, and Bondo, it came under the modern state of Odisha in 1936 after being ruled by several royal dynasties.
Koraput-The Weave with Healing Qualities
Nature is the muse. This tribe of weavers spin fabrics that are 100% non-chemical, eco-friendly, non-toxic to the skin. Healing properties of this weave are accepted and respected by all. You might also want to read about Ahimsa Silk - The Peaceful Eco-Friendly Fabric
Let us now see what all that goes into the making of this beautiful saree from Odhisha, that uses a three-shuttle interlock patterning, that allows for a number of combinations both in volume and scale.
- Cotton and silk yarn: These are sourced from the state itself, mainly from the Sambalpur district as also from Jagdalpur, and Rayagada District.
- Aal ki chaal or Madder dye: The natural dye coloring is derived from the root of Indian Madder tree, which is bought from the tribes of the Kalahandi jungles.
Finer the Aal powder, stronger the color
According to figures, there are nearly 300 dye-yielding plants available in India.
- Kumahar pathar: This is interestingly used in barter even today. Kumahar pathar is basically sulphate of Iron. On its proportion depends the powerful and vibrant colors range of colors from deep maroon to dark brown.
When in today’s modern world so much noise is made on recycling, this is one example of waste from the blacksmith being reused for dye!
- Castor oil and Tora Oil: The latter is used in the Kangi as a loom lubricant.
- Wood ash: This is an important ingredient while dyeing the cotton yarn.
- Starch: Flour and water are mixed to a perfect consistency and applied to the yarn to give it strength.
- Cow dung: This is the main bleaching agent and also guarantees its fast color.
Kotpad dyeing-women kneading the dye into the yarn with their feet.
‘ALL INGREDIENTS THAT GO INTO THE MAKING OF THE KORAPUT WEAVE AND FABRIC ARE HOME GROWN, REPROCESSED, 100% NATURAL AND ORGANIC’
Should we not, the admirers of handloom, without batting an eyelid, buy a Koraput or Kotpad saree to not just support the Indian artisan but also be the proud owner of a present-day fashionable eco-friendly saree? Food for thought.