Padmashalis of Uppada

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Padmashali is a Telugu-speaking Hindu art is an caste predominantly residing in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.Associated with the Satavahana empire in olden days, the caste is traditionally occupied in weaving and textile businesses.

Interpretation of the name Padmashali:

Symbolizing the weaving activity with a spider’s web, the word ‘saali’ was coined for weavers. The word Padmashali has a very deep meaning in Hindu mythology.A conflation of two words, padma and shali, where Padma meaning the highest order of human intelligence , the word “Shali” in Sanskrit means ‘be holder’. Hence Padmashali means ‘the holder of the highest intelligence’. Another aspect of Padmashali,the word padma also means lotus thread, thus Padmashali means somebody who fine weaveswith lotus threads. Another mythological theory relates to Padmavathi of Mangapura/tiruchanur of Tirupati who declared herself to be the daughter of Padmashali and hence, the name Padmashali.

Origin of Padmashalis:

Padmashali family have their roots from Lord Sriman Narayana who is considered to be the one from whose navel Lord Brahma emerged. They are considered to be the descendants of Maharishi Brighu who was said to be born from the heart of Lord Brahma. Down the lineage of Brighu Maharishi, Bhavana Rishi who taught the technique of weaving, and his wife Bhadravathi had 101 Padmashali children and Padmashalis are the descendants of these 100 sons who are spread all over India and other parts of the World.

Another account for their origin it is said that in order to clothe the nakedness of people in the world, Siva commissioned Markandeya to perform a sacrifice and Bhavana Rishi came out of the holy fire, holding a lotus flower Padma in his hand. He married two wives Prasannavati and Bhadravathi, daughters of Surya (The Sun) and had a hundred and one sons, who all took to weaving cloth out of the fiber of the lotus flower for men to wear.


History of Padmashalis:

It is said that the Padmashalis and Devangas were originally one single caste in ancient times that later split owing to differences in religious faith.

The Padmashalis eventually specialised in weaving clothes of all varieties from cotton and silk. Unlike other caste communities who were involved in the leather and wool-based household industries, the Padmashalis developed exclusively cloth-weaving skills. With no expertise in ploughing, seeding and crop-cutting, their skill structure, over a period of time became one-dimensional. By the time the British arrived, the Padmashalis were producing huge quantities of cloth and controlled a leading cottage industry in India.


Weaving of Uppada Silk Sarees:

The Padmashalis who settled in Uppada village in East Godavari district close to the port city of Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh have become the sole weaver community that specialises in uppada silk sarees. These weavers received a GI registration in 2009. Uppada soft silk sarees are woven using jamdani techniques but with uniquely local adaptation. Weaving uppada sarees is an intensely manual process where two weavers work together on one loom to create the delicate designs & fine fabric with zari and silk.Length & breadth count of threads is 100 in the weaving process of these silk sarees and it takes 2 months to make theses of test & finest silk sarees that are a nice blend of tradition & trend.

Present day Padmashalis:

Today, Padmashalis are spread in the Indian states of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and also in parts of Maharashtra, Orissa and Chhattisgarh. The mother tongue of most members of the community is Telugu, even in areas where they have migrated generations ago such as Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, except in the Dakshina Kannada district of Coastal Karnataka, where they speak Tulu. Inspite of their rich cultural background, more and more present day Padmashal is are moving away from the occupation of weaving and marketing. Abandoning their ancestral profession, they have diversified into secular professions such as engineering, management, medicine, law, academia, administration, politics and business and a few of them have also migrated to foreign countries like the USA, UK, UAE, Australia and Germany.



About Shatika

Since the dawn of civilization, handlooms have been associated with excellence in India’s artistry in textiles and fabrics, and sari which is considered to be the most ancient piece of clothing has been inspiring generations of artists and craftsmen to weave their dreams and visions into creating exquisite handloom sarees. However with passage of time, just like the clacking sounds of the looms, the dreams and visions of these weaves too are fading away.In an attempt to bring handloom sarees back in vogue, Shatika has begun a revolution; a six yard sari revolution is a humble attempt at bringing back the lost love for handloom sarees. Dedicated to creating a unique interpretation of the age old craft, we travel to all colourful corners of the country visiting weavers,guiding them on the latest trends so they weave out the age old tradition with a modern touch and bring them online so you can savor the delights of hand picking them from the comfort of your homes.


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