Traditional Patterns Give Way to Modern Weaves
By Diana Sahu | Published: 01st January 2014 10:17 AM |
The traditional tie and dye weaving or Ikat of Sonepur is gradually on the wane giving way to the jacquard loom.
The Textiles and Handloom department had introduced jacquard looms six years back to help Ikat weavers increase their productivity. In the process, it is the craftsmanship that bore the brunt. Today, there are several villages in the district where not a single family can be found practising traditional tie and dye form of weaving. Villages where tie and dye is practised through looms are Kendupalli, Subalaya, Dasarajpur, Nimna and Sagarpalli.
Apparently, Ikat of Odisha enjoys Geographical Indication (GI) status, giving it both protection and branding.
Anita Agnihotri, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Textiles, who visited the district recently, said the number of tie and dye weavers and clusters is on the decline.
“It has been partly caused by introduction of jacquard which is time saving and productivity is more. Traditional tie and dye weavers are shifting to jacquard looms as the time they spend on manually creating Ikat designs is not wage compensated. If steps are not taken at the earliest by the State Government, Sonepur district which has the finest tie and dye craftsmanship in the country will lose its identity,” she said.
The manual Ikat weaving proceeds at a leisurely pace with meticulous attention to detail. In the hands of an expert weaver, a maximum of three Ikat sarees can be woven in a month.
In handloom establishments and clusters, this time-consuming work is bypassed by weaving on the jacquard loom where, with the aid of punched design cards, one weaver is enough to operate the sari loom and the weaving is quicker.
However, the designs which can be produced by such quick and easy methods are limited, resulting in compromises which reflect poorly the grandeur and technical excellence of an age-old craft.
Renowned weaver Chaturbhuj Meher said the traditional Ikat craftsmanship has become a costly affair with less returns. “Hand weaving of Ikat sarees consume a lot of time and is not remunerative which is why weavers are shifting to looms. Besides, natural dyes are too expensive for weavers to procure,” he said, adding there would be around 250 traditional weavers in Sagarpalli.
Sources in the department said the decline in tie and dye weaving in Sonepur started after introduction of Bomkai and jacquard to weave Bomkai designs. This is because weaving of Bomkai with jacquard is remunerative than tie and dye weaving. To overcome this, the Directorate of Textiles and Handloom have decided to implement tie and dye training programmes under self-employment programme of Government.
Sonepur, the hub of Ikat weaving in Western Odisha, is home to 27,134 weavers
According to the Textiles & Handlooms Department, 70 per cent of this are tie and dye weavers who have moved on to jacquard looms
There are 5417 looms in the district and handloom products worth `40 crore is produced from Sonepur annually