Originating from the historic town of Venkatagiri, this namesake weave makes one of the softest and most durable saris of South India. This six yard beauty is made up of some of the most exclusive designs found in any sari across India. They can be draped to grace almost all occasions and have an all climate appeal, but are most suitable for humid Indian summers. Their lightness and softness make them an appealing buy globally.
Venkatagiri saris are hand-woven cotton saris popular for their Jamdani style weaving pattern, its most distinctive feature being a large Jamdani motif of a peacock, parrot, and swan or mango leaf in the pallu. This fine weaving and unique design made them the preferred choice of Andhra royalty. The saris have a history dating back to the early 1700’s when they were produced in the small artisan cluster of Venkatagiri. The place was then known as Kali-Mili and the beautiful weaves were patronized by the Velugoti Dynasty of Nellore. The weavers were handsomely compensated for their art and reserved their weaves exclusively for their royal customers.
The Venkatagiri weavers work on pure cotton, pure silk and a blend of both cotton and silk. The counts used in cotton are usually 100 (length) – 100(breadth) and with silk it is 3 ply. The sari is known for its fine weaves and similar styles can also be found in the villages of Sengunthapuram, Variyankaval, Andimadam and Marudhur amongst others. Venkatagiri saris are one of the most finely woven saris in India. Not only are they lightweight and elegant in their drape but are also relatively easy to maintain.
The first step is dyeing the yarn that is washed and dipped in the required color in a boiler. This mixture is continuously churned to ensure even distribution of color. This is a critical step that is followed by another round of washing and drying. The yarns are then starched, which binds the color and gives them a finished sheen. The loading of the yarn is the next process where it is loaded into looms. The looms used in Venkatagiri are usually pit looms. Known for their fine weaving styles Venkatagiri developed worldwide acclaim due to its USP being exclusivity. The weavers excel in creating unmatchable masterpieces that are literally one in a million. They will gladly personalize and create a masterpiece just for you.
The town of Venkatagiri has 40,000 inhabitants out of which 20,000 are weavers. The saris created here were recognized as one of GI from Andhra Pradesh by the GI of Goods Act 1999. The saris earlier were popularly known as Venkatagiri Zari Cotton Handloom Saris. Over time silk threads were blended to provide variety and richness. However the introduction of the Jamdani technique from Bangladesh was the winning touch that provided the saris popularity and fame. The weavers who introduced this unique technique have also been awarded by the President of India.
Venkatagiri saris have earned global acclaim for their soft texture and regal looks. With their winning combination of comfort and style it is difficult to find a sari aficionado that won’t swoon over them. The passion of the weavers toward ensuring that their clients are satisfied brings out the true beauty of the fabric.
It must be noted that as with all other indigenous art forms, the weavers here have received no formal training but practice this skill purely by the hereditary knowledge passed down over generations. The art of vision and practice has made them the master weavers that they are today. This sadly doesn’t mean that they are recognized or rewarded . The Pit looms get water logged during the monsoon season due to a lack of proper infrastructure and this is detrimental to their operation. The bleak situation is compounded by the low wages earned that prompts the traditional weavers to opt out of this profession, looking for better compensation in alternate occupations. With no new takers to carry on this art , there is a very real possibility that one of our great traditions might be lost.
In order to pick up the falling market, local cooperatives along with the Government are taking steps to ensure its survival and growth. Dyeing methods are being constantly upgraded. With the recent set up of a local dyeing unit, the weavers are spared from being dependent on neighboring cities or towns to get their yarn dyed. This directly cuts down on production time and cost thereby increasing profits.