Pochampalli Silk Saree


Pochampally sarees are the famous sarees woven in Pochampally, a small town in Andhra Pradesh. Pochampally is the well known brand in south india because of its quality. These sarees are world famous because of its unique design and colour combination.


Pochampally silk saree manufacturing history goes back to 1970, when it was decided by some village headmen of Pochampally to weave silk along with cotton(cotton weaving was being done since very long back), to make a better living. They have sent two young weavers to learn the secrets of the art to Bangalore. This was the beginning of a revolutionary era in the Pochampally handloom industry, which led to the eventual dominance of the Indian tie&die patola Industry.

Since the 1960’s Pochampalli ikkat-weavers were influenced by the paolu designs of Gujarat. The reasons for this influence could be many. Migration of the weavers could be one of them. However, there are some experts who feel that more than migration it could be influence of the print media which could be one of the major reasons. “Weavers have probably seen the Gujarati designs either in a magazine or might have actually seen one of the patola fabrics. It is also possible that weavers came across the designs at a handloom exhibition and copied the design, says some experts. Most evidences suggest that Ikat weaving began in the late nineteenth century, when most of the original textiles were large scarves (rumal) made for export to Arabia. Only poor local fishermen and the people of low classes wore these cloths. In present times, the weavers are employed from Dravidian (Telugu-speaking) Hindu communities, namely Padmasalis and Devangs.

The earlier Pochampalli Ikat sarees show designs closer to the Siddipet khans rather than the Ikat rumals. Like the khans, the borders of these early Pochampalli Ikats were only embellished with supplementary-warp patterns. The endpiece of the sarees consisted of a series of bands of different widths descending in size from the large central band. Unlike the khans, these bands were only embellished with weft-Ikat dyed threads. The 8-metre (26-foot) saree called zjanani, has Ikat bands in the endpiece and it was one the woven in Pochampally. Even it has also been proved that the north in Bastar, the Dhurua tribal saree incorporated Ikat checks in its body. The Pochampally involves about 5000 handloom weavers who create sarees in traditional Ikat work.

Following the present trends, Ikat silk sarees are created with design layouts similar to the old khan style. This is the indication of a possible link between the much older supplementary-thread Siddipet khan sarees woven in this area and today`s Ikat industry. Gradually, as the history of the Pochampally tradition proceeded, the Pochampalli`s Ikat saree industry had progressed. In the meantime, the patterns of the sarees had been changed and had evolved into what are now recognized as the characteristic sarees of this area.


Characteristic features of Pochampally Ikat sarees lie in the big, bold and bright patterning. The modernization of thought and choice has inspired the artisans to create modern motifs that are abstract, modernist and geometric, with plenty of brilliant colours. The most modern Pochampalli Ikat designs have origins in the rumal. The majority of Pochampally Ikat sarees are vibrantly coloured, however, and although there is a wide range of modern designs. Most of the designs still follow the rumal layout with wide plain borders, one or two plain bands marking the endpiece, and a field covered with Ikat-created designs.


The saree is woven in hand woven cotton and silk fabric. Pochampally ikats can be differentiated from their cousins in Orissa by their feel. Pochampally cloth is smoother than the flannelly Orissa cloth and not quite as heavy.


  Having single, ombined or double Ikat in several illustrations ranging from

  The use of diamond or chowka

  Diagonal or square grids in which geometrical,floral figurative motifs are woven

  Striped or shevaron forms

  Other abstract variations


There are about 5000 handloom weavers in Pochampally who create sarees in traditional ikat work. This saree is known for its unique design. The ikat weaves involve the yarn being dyed first, with each strand dyed on the basis of the final pattern that has been decided. This means that everything has to be very precise and requires the skills of true artists. This method is very similar to the tie-and-dye method, the real difference being that here the yarn is dyed before weaving a rather complex procedure. The yarn for the wrap and the weft is stretched on wraping blocks in the form of quarter circle. They consist of one strong peg, connected with the circular segment of a wooden plank, studded with about 35 pegs at regular intervals. The thread – wrap as well as weft – is stretched on it and divided into a numbers of sets. Later the designs are tied in the sets. While the yarn is held on the wrapping block. For dying the yarn is taken off, but when dry, it is again stretched, partly opened tied and for dyeing, a process which can be repeated several times. The red and brown design in white and black area achieved using alizarin dyes. For this the cloth is first soaked in mixture of castor oil and alkaline earth, then dried, again soaked, dipped in alizarin paste and finally boiled till it becomes red. For the brown shades, iton splinters are added to the vcolor. Dissolving iron splinters in vinegar produces black color.

Designs generally are worked out on graph paper. Great care must be taken in putting the wrap on the loom, keeping all the threads in position is necessary for the design to work. The natural movement during weaving gives Ikat designs a feathered edge which characterizes this technique. The famous Pochampally ikat tie-and-dye saree has won Intellectual Property Rights protection. It is the first traditional Indian craft to receive this status of geographical branding. The design won protection in the Geographical Indications category. This will protect the pochampally handloom saree from unfair competition and counterfeit.

Process of weaving

  yarn widing from yarn to bobbin

  preparation of weft on tie and dye frame

  making of design on weft on tie and dye frame with charcoal/fountain pen graphed design for tie-dueing the threads before putting on loom

  dyeing with first (largest) colur

  repeat the (tie and dye) process for third/ fourth colour as required according to the colour of design. After tying. The silk threads are dyed. Then the ties are removed revealing with designs and texture created by the ties on the woven fabrics. This is a labour intensive craft

  placing of the tie and dye on tie and dye frame for rewiding

  winding of tie and dye yarn on to parivattam

  pirn winding fromparivattam for weaving

  the wrap in preparation for dyeing

  stretching the wrap and each unit is separated from the next group

  wrap attaching to the reed

  weaving th final step

The Pochampally Ikat sarees have a good market in India and abroad because the weavers use modern synthetic colours and create exclusive designs that are typical of the saree tradition. All Andhra Pradesh Ikat sarees are sold in major urban centres. Like the older rumal trade goods, its Ikat sarees are primarily made for export rather than for local markets. The weavers of Andhra Pradesh create Ikat sarees that are simple and geometric designs are incorporated in the good quality Ikat sarees.

One of the reasons why pochampally sarees find a better market in India and abroad is, the weavers use modern synthetic colors instead of the expensive vegetable dyes for dying, thereby not only bringing down the cost of production, but also getting a chance to be more creative by trying out complex designs. Since the 1960s pochampally ikat-weavers were influenced by the patola designs of Gujarat. Modern ikats of Andhra Pradesh, which are simple and use at the most three colors and purely geometrical designs, are of good quality and sell competitively.