Moving from Nellore to Tirupathi in Andhra Pradesh, we reach Venkatagiri town about 50 Km from it. Venkatagiri is roughly a 3 hour journey away from Chennai and about 320 Km from Bengaluru. Being on the routes to so many important places, this town is naturally very well connected by rail and road. This once upon a time village in the 17th century that later on was part of the Madras Presidency, is today a town whose 2001 census population puts it at close to 53,000 inhabitants with a literacy level of 67 % in a total area of roughly 23.5 Sq. Km.
It is known for its unique and exceptionally woven handlooms.
The lure of Venkatagiri Handlooms
Venkatagiri sarees are known for their fine quality and workmanship and despite trying times have not lost their lustre to this day. The undimmed spirit of the weavers and their families has ensured the continuation of a tradition that has contributed immensely to Indian ethnic fabrics.
Venkatagiri saris are woven in silk or cotton, accompanied by attractive prints with subjects from flora, fauna and nature, and supplemented by elegant zari borders of varying widths and eye-catching designer pallus. The motifs are very attractive and chosen according to the occasion and the ingenuity of the weaver.
The quality of a Venkatagiri saree is borne out by the fact that even a jacquard woven saree cannot match its pattern work. The figure work that is done is exceptional and yet the cost of the saree is remarkably cheap for the effort put in. The embellished and spotted patterns give an artistic touch with the interweaving in golden zari making the saree look exceptional.
The Venkatagiri handloom saree, was once patronized by royalty for its weaving excellence. It is today sought after as an ethnic fabric of unique and long-lasting qualities. Continuing the tradition and sustaining this unique art of weaving is a sizeable population of the town, who have retained the old traditional art of weaving with new trends in keeping with the taste of the market and the present-day highly competitive and changing conditions.
The variety in Venkatagiri handooms
There being a lot of experimentation, the variety and range of Venkatagiri Handlooms is phenomenal. The Jamdani Zari Saree, has ‘Jamdani’ prints on a Cotton base and a Zari border, which has fetched laurels from all quarters. It is a must for exclusive occasions. The handloom silk variant with motifs of mango, parrot, animals, birds and themes from nature made in gold or silver zari, has a more traditional grandeur and feel about it, that make it apt for special occasions like weddings, festivals, grand parties, social functions etc. There is an Institute of Handloom Technology, which attracts those wishing to make a career in Handloom fabrics, and have weaving as part of their practical curriculum. This also benefits Venkatagiri as a hub with ideas on market tastes and design preferences. These graduates also give the benefit of their knowhow regarding modern techniques to implement in the traditional craft.
The making of a Venkatagiri Saree
There are several stages involved in the making of a Venkatagiri saree. Selection of the fabric yarn – silk, cotton, jute, linen, art silk or blends, the coloring of the fabric yarn, the spinning of the yarn into threads of uniform thickness with long continuous lengths, the weaving of the threads into a fabric, the additions to the basic weave like prints, painting, embroidery, patch borders etc. The stages could also vary with the variety of the fabric based on additional features specific to the variety.
Unnati’s fine range of Venkatagiri fabrics – sarees, salwar kameez, kurtis kurtas
Unnati Silks with its direct association with the Venkatagiri weavers since very long, is able to, based on research on market tastes, guide inspirational designs and patterns and give fusion ideas that have already enamoured the world of fashion.
Let us check the fine collection of Venkatagiri fabrics that Unnati Silks has starting with sarees.
You have pure handloom cottons of Venkatagiri in light colors given the benefit of even lighter floral designs, stripes design through different pattern blocks, all created from Dabu Printing. The characteristic 4 inch wide golden zari border improves the look even further.
There are a lot of geometrical patterns, mazes, floral scapes interspersed from traditional block printing methods in cheerful pastels to light hues on fine handloom cottons that give a fresh feel, new look to the sarees. The typical 4 inch zari border typically accompanies.
There are simple and plain colored dark sarees with self color stripes in the weave and the wide zari border. Yet another range has typical prints with Booti magic and stripes design on the pallu. Also a fresh look range of dark and light contrasting sarees with plenty of floral designs. An entire range of likeable designer creations indeed!
Unnati Silks has not stayed content with just sarees, in Venkatagiri handlooms. In an exploratory mood and testing the likes of the market, Unnati has launched even the nicely woven pure handloom cotton Venkatagiri salwar kameez, kurtis and kurtas.
Exploring the salwar kameez and the kurti kurta
Kameez, the most attractive part of the salwar suit tends to be most eye-catching. Checkerboard dual color pattern, flowery designs, zigzag and other geometrical shapes in multicolor, mix of floral bootis, mango bootis, various odd shapes and designs, colored stripes, self color jacquard weave, and a host of other possibilities displayed in newer combinations and ways makes this piece purely designer and a visual delight.
The accompanying lower portion or salwar from being just colored and plain to being covered with prints, self covered weave and other ways of adornment and beautification is a brilliant match for the kameez to give that look from mere attractive to stunningly gorgeous.
The Dupatta, initially thought of as merely a covering part on the kameez, has also caught the bug of designer. From prints to play in color to match the salwar and kameez, the dupatta stands out by itself from merely enhancing the look to providing an extra boost to a lovely salwar kameez combination.
There are same colored combinations, salwar dupatta color matches with contrasting color kameez, kameez dupatta matches with contrasting salwars, all three different but combined well together, color splashy neons and a lot of other variety.
The foray into a new line of Indian tunics or Kurtis and Kurtas in Venkatagiri cottons that serve as attractive tops with designer necks, designer neck patterns, classic colored borders lined with zari, a whole range of sleeve formats from none to full sleeves and other delightful options has given a new fillip to the recently introduced kurtis and kurtas range.
In keeping with a silently surging forward movement of production, wide propagation and preservation of Indian traditional handlooms through opportunities provide to ethnic weavers and craftsmen, Unnati has been upholding a legacy of regular supply of genuine handloom varieties to the market. Venkatagiri happens to be one of a wide and varied collection – much popular and very much desirable.