The Udupi sari, which is handwoven and dyed using hank yarn, is the major traditional textile manufactured in the Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts of Karnataka.
Udupi saris are made with combed cotton yarn, which has a thread count of 80. The pallu (edge of the sari) is dyed in dark shades before weaving and extra weft designs are woven in attractive colors. For the warp, a tie and dye method is used.
These saris are woven on frame looms called Malabar Looms, introduced by the Basil Mission, which started industrial training in southern India in the 1840s.
More than 3000 weavers belonging to the Shettigar community in and around Udupi were involved in crafting these saris around 30 years ago. At present, only a handful remain.
These precious saris are now being imitated by power looms and sold at throwaway prices, thereby reducing both the demand and wage of the handloom weavers.
Major initiatives are being undertaken to revive and restore this ancient art form. Revivalists are working on giving these saris their due recognition, as well as respect to the weavers and their craft. Reigniting pride and passion for handloom cloth is one of the prime objectives of these initiatives.