Orissa or Odisha is a state located in the east of India, known for its rich and varied culture. This region has produced many beautiful textiles and gorgeous handicrafts which are today admired the world over for their complicated execution and delicate finish.
Orissa sarees are made using all these beautiful textiles and techniques and are consequently some of the most pretty and unique sarees in India. They are greatly influenced by the Jagannath (Hindu deity worshipped in Orissa) culture and frequently display temple borders, mythological designs and the traditional colors of Jagannath.
Heritage of handloom in Odisha
An Odisha saree can be of many types, depending on the region it is produced in, the fabric used, the weave of the fabric, the designs on the fabric and the pallu. Orissa handloom sarees are amongst the finest in the land since handloom is one of the largest industries in Orissa, not to mention one of the most ancient.
Bomkai or sonepuri saree
The handloom artisans here have inherited centuries of knowledge regarding exquisite weaves and designs and subsequently handloom sarees of Orissa are amongst the most desirable sarees in the world. Bomkai sari also known as Sonepuri saree is a handloom drape marked for intricate weaves and patterns.
Another feature of Orissa or Odisha sarees is the use of exquisite embroidery and artistic designs, often done on very fine fabrics. The two most popular fabrics used are silk and cotton. Orissa silk sarees are known for their fine and lustrous beauty and are frequently worn for special occasions and ceremonies, while Orissa cotton sarees, though just as colorful and beautiful, are preferred for more informal occasions because of the high amount of comfort they offer.
Double ikat weave
The ikat or double ikat weave is the most famous handicraft of Orissa. This ancient weave has traveled all over the world, with many other regions having their own versions. However, the ikat fabrics produced in Odisha are completely unique, with a fine weave and artistic designs. The ikat technique essentially involves resist dyeing the threads to create beautiful patterns, before weaving is done.
Single ikat involves dyeing just the warp or weft threads while in double ikat, both threads are carefully dyed such that when they come together, they create a harmonious and beautiful design. Like with all Odisha sarees, silk is the most popular fabric for ikat sarees though cotton may also be used.
Many of the regional variations employ the ikat technique in combination with other crafts to make gorgeous sarees. The Bomkai sarees of Odisha, for instance, combine the ikat weave with intricate embroidery. The weave and the embroidery are woven into each other throughout the fabric, while the borders and pallus often come in bright contrasting colors with intricate thread work. The embroidered pallus have very aesthetically pleasing designs inspired by tribal art and often feature natural motifs.
Bandhkala or Baandha
Bandhkala or Baandha sarees are dyed using the tie and dye method unique to Odisha. They are very different from Bandhej sarees of Gujarat and Rajasthan and often come in the traditional colors associated with lord Jagannath: red, white, black and yellow.
They have a subtle shimmer as they are interwoven with gold or silver threads. The artistic dyed designs have a unique three dimensional beauty. The Sambalpuri baandha sarees are one of the most stunning Orissa handloom silk sarees, and come with many symbolic and mythological motifs on the pallu.
The pasapalli sarees are also woven and dyed, but come with a distinctive black and white checkered pattern, similar to a chess board.
Styling your heritage odisha sarees
One of the best things about the ethnic fashion revival in India and its subsequent international popularity is that many of the lost or dying arts of India received a much wider customer base. Orissa sarees too have benefited from this new focus and many of the gorgeous Orissa handloom silk sarees have been spotted at red carpets and on fashion runways.
Today, they come in a much wider range of colors and designs so as to appeal to a wider customer base. There are so many different varieties of Orissa sarees that women can easily dress up in them for formal, informal or office events.
The Orissa silk saree woven with subtle but attractive Ikat designs is the perfect outfit for a daytime soiree for which formal dressing is required. Though light and fine-looking, they can be accessorized with appropriate jewelry like gold necklaces and silk clutches to add the formal touch.
For daily wear, women can opt for Orissa sarees with price tags that won’t burn a hole in the pocket, such as simple Baandha cotton sarees. An Orissa cotton saree embroidered with mythological designs is also a comfortable and attractive option for ceremonies and festivals where traditional dressing is required. They can be accessorized with off-beat Indian jewelry like wooden bangles and terracotta necklaces to emphasize the ethnic element.