The Ilkal saree is woven in the town Ilkal in Karnataka. Kasuti embroidery is done on these sarees, which is a special form of embroidery done in Karnataka. This type of embroidery is highly intricate. The typical embroidery patterns used in Ilkal sarees are chariots, lotuses, elephants, lamps, conch shells, palanquins, etc. This type of embroidery is done without knots so that both the sides of the fabric look the same. Ilkal sarees measure 9 yards in length. Ilkal sarees are woven using cotton warp on the body and art silk warp for border and art silk warp for pallav portion of the saree. In some cases instead of art silk, pure silk is also used. The end regions of the pallu are cut in different shapes. The colors that are traditionally used in these sarees are pomegranate red, parrot green and peacock blue. Bridal wear Ilkal sarees are made in a special color which is called ‘Giri Kumkum’ in that region. The red-colored pallu is a distinguishing feature of Ilkal sarees.
HISTORY OF IIKAL SAREE
Ilkal was an ancient weaving centre where the weaving seems to have started in the 8th century AD. The growth of these sarees is attributed to the patronage provided by the local chieftains in and around the town of Bellary. The availability of local raw materials helped in the growth of this saree. About 20000 people in the town of Ilkal are engaged in saree-weaving.
• The uniqueness of saree is joining of the body warp with pallav warp with a series of loops locally called as TOPE TENI technique.
• The weaver will gait only 6 yards, 8 yards, 9 yards warp due to above TOPE TENI technique. KONDI Technique is used for weft through inserting 3 shuttles.
• Pallau portion-Design: “TOPE TENE SERAGU” Normally in tope teni seragu 3 solid portions would be in red colour, and in between 2 portions in white colour.
• Tope Teni seragu has been regarded as a state symbol and was greatly respected during festival occasions.
• Traditional Borders: (i) Chikki, (ii) Gomi, and (iii) Gadidadi, and modern Gaythri are unique ones in Ilkal sarees – width ranging from 2.5” to 4”.
• Border Colour Uniqueness: Red usually or Maroon dominates.
The peculiar characteristic of the saree is joining the body warp with the pallav warp which is locally called as TOPE TENI. This technique is only used exclusively at Ilkal. If anyone requires Ilkal saree one must prepare a warp for every saree. Warp threads for body is prepared separately. Similarly pallav warp is prepared separately either with art silk or pure silk depending upon the quality required. Thirdly border portion of warp is prepared as like the pallav warp either art silk or pure silk and the colour used for pallav and on border will be one and the same. In general, the length of the pallav will range 16” to 27”. The pallav threads and body threads are joined in loop technique, a typical method which is locally called as TOPE TENI.
TYPES OF BORDERS
The design woven in the length wise borders are mainly three types:-
• Gomi (more popularly known as Ilkal dadi)
• Paraspet (Sub-divided into chikki paras and dodd paras)
MAIN BODY DESIGN
Weaving of Ilkal sarees is mostly an indoor activity. It is essentially a household enterprise involving active participation of female members. To weave one saree with the help of the handloom, it takes about 7 days. We can weave it with the help of the powerloom also. lkal traditional sarees are produced mainly on pit looms with the combination of three types of different yarns namely Silk x Silk, Silk x Cotton, Art silk x Cotton. Along with the above said yarn combination totally four different traditional designs are produced – they are Chikki Paras, Gomi, Jari and recently modified traditional design Gayathri.
These sarees are produced in different lengths 6.00 yards, 8.00 yards, and 9.00 yards with solid as well as contrast borders.
The main distinction in these sarees is its attached temple type Pallav (locally called as TOPE TENI) by inter locking body warp and pallav warp using loop system and inserting weft by three shuttles using two different colours yarn by Kondi technique. A weaver requires apart from himself two others for preparatory work.