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08 July, 2018

Gollbhama sarees from Siddipet

Gollabhama sarees are globally famous, and even have the Geographical Indication (GI) tag. Siddipet, a district in the state of Telangana in Indian Continent is known for providing a type of cotton sarees. These sarees are special because of the amazing motifs and inlay figure work in them. This particular type of saree derives its name from the unique motifs that it carries. The figure work is inspired by the Gollabhama that mean the milkmaids in the folk language. Cattle’s rearing was a known profession and the community practising it was called Golla. The sight of the women of this community carrying pots of milk and curd on their heads (milkmaid) wearing bright skirts and veils has been captured in these sarees. That is how it gets its name “Gollabhama”.

The weavers articulate the image of the Gollabhamas on cotton as well as silk cloth in their looms. The sarees are special in a way as these images are not printed or embroidered instead flawlessly woven on the pallu of the saree. They are initially drawn on a graph and later woven in a pattern using 80-100 threads. These threads define the specific position where the warp is raised and coloured threads are inserted. While creating these motifs, the weaver passes coloured threads (for each motif) through the warp to achieve the resulting design. The weavers replicate these silhouettes to create alluring designs on their looms. The saree is often in a single colour dotted with small Gollabhama butas throughout the fabric, while the larger intricate motifs are showcased on the border and/or pallu (end-piece). Particularly these sarees have 3 different types of designs woven on the fabric namely Kolatam, Bathukamma and Gollabhama with Gollabhama being the most commonly used.

They are globally famous and in spite of recognition they face a danger of existence. Each saree earns revenue of only Rs 350/- to the weaver. But to us buyers it costs few thousands of rupees. The weavers that have the knowledge of this particular art have reduced to only two dozen from 2000. Also to add the weavers face tremendous hardships and financial crisis as the product is close to extinct.

K. Chandrashekar Rao, chief minister of Telangana state believes in restoring this glory that India receives from its ancestors. Despite being one of the best hand-woven products of the world and efforts made to provide subsidies on the stocks of yarn, the art of Gollabhama Sarees is on the verge of collapse. The weavers express their concern for the coming generation of the country who would just be able to see this art in the pictures as in the next 10 years no one would have the knowledge to preserve it.

Apart from buying handlooms, and perhaps adapting them in more trendy attires and accessories, one can only hope that the government’s efforts can support the weavers and help them preserve these traditional and folk arts.

I cannot even describe how soft this cotton saree is and how lovely it feels. It is light, soft and cheerful saree.










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