Indian handloom sarees are known for its untarnished thread work and lavish pattern. From INDIRA COL (northernmost) to INDIRA POINT (southernmost) there are numerous handloom depicting royalty and exclusivity of Indian culture, tradition and its creativity. BOMKAI sarees from Odisha is one of such citation. This six to nine yard fabric is weaved at the southern Odisha’s suburbs. Bomkai, this remarkable name has been entitled to the handloom after its hub of production BOMKAI village of Chikiti Tehsil(GANJAM ).
The leading craftsmen of the craft are the “Bhulia” community of the Subarnapur. The charming sarees are also recognised as SONEPURI. The handloom got crowned when Kathak dancers wore it at international festivals and celebrity like AISHWARYA RAI made this a statement at her wedding.The former Miss World wore “RADHAKUNJA” a kind of Bomkai during her wedding with Abhisekh Bachchan. The three beauties were designed by Chaturbhuj Meher at Sonepur. This exquisiteness also holds a GI tag since 2009.
SONEPURI’s supremacy has been existing from the era of its origin. Since 600 BC it’s been flying high with bold patterns and aristocracy. During the nascent stage only Brahmins wore this attire to auspicious occasion. As time rolled and superstitions disappeared this artistry was worn by every class of the civilization. The saree originated from GANJAM and was open up to SUBARNPUR during the reign of Ramai Devi. This royalty has dared to be uncommon from its source “IKAT”. The ornamenting are said to be inspired from Khandagiri Caves. The motifs and designs portray mythology and well kept secrets of the past unlike the rest. These features of the handlooms have given a status of pride to the sarees and its craftsman.
The craftsmanship’s intensity is transparent in the structured and intricate work. A single marvellous piece of works requires four to five pairs of hands and almost 35 days. The mechanism starts after the silk or cotton is weaved to yarn. Then the complicated stairs are stepped forward to get SONEPURI in its beautiful form. The yarns are segregated for wrap and weft in different colour combinations. Thereafter the yarns are measured, then tying and dying are done. Until the desired pattern and coloured is gained this process continues. On the borders, warp alone is processed, while for Palavas and Anchal of sarees, weft is processed and overall saree designs, both the warp and weft are processed. BOMKAI still uses the very ancient “jaalas” for the tying method.
The yarns are then spun to bobbins and pins. The weaving is done as per the patterns or customization.Motifs like tribal art, tortoise, flies, bitter gourd, lotus, bird, earthen pots, small flower and mythological characters like Rudarksh ,Kumbha,Indra are put to adorn the elegance. The uneven and discontinuous temple designs are the most striking feature of the Bomkai.
The exclusivity of the patterns has given a push to these Ikat sarees all over the world. This painstaking artistry has received a global recognition since 1980s.The pallu’s intricate thread work is the pendant to SONEPURI’s necklace Moreover the innovation of Zari work have given a shimmering angle to the handloom. This new glimmer base of the saree have made it more popular and alluring in the markets. The same traditional handloom print wrapped in contemporary tinge has made its way to the global recognitions.
The Pallavs i.e. the borders have lattice work giving solid blocks. They are also double shaded making it spectacular. The gorgeous hues have made the saree suitable for any occasion to get styled. The craftsman creativity, diligence and the sense of matching the colours according to the print have given the BOMKAI immeasurable amount of love and admiration. Bomkai has been a dominant fabric at the world trade fairs.
The SONEPURI or BOMKAI have been a recognized and glorious print all over the world. Even being a leader in textile industry, there are tears to shade on the lives of the craftsmanship. The weavers are being sidelined on the shadow of bold hues. The government hand to the weavers is too little for their basic needs. The unsteady financial rank of the weaver puts a question mark on the safeguard of the artistry. The authorities need to amend the systematic process of its production. The access to technology and subsidization would surplus the production chain .This would turn the things around and would up rise the demand. These honest and laborious craftsman must not be thrown to the hands of fraudsters and suffer the loss .
The value of their diligence must be taken into account to make sure the sustainability of the angelic artistry BOMKAI. The lack of attention must not be a reason to fade away this beauty to antiques.
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