Shatipedia – The Sari Encyclopedia



Mangalgiri Cotton Sarees:

An ancient occupation of weaving hand-woven fabrics, Mangalgiri a town in Guntur District of Andhra Pradesh is known to produce the most exclusive Mangalgiri cotton sarees that are as rich and elegant as their cultural history. Popular for their delicate and distinctive designs, Mangalgiri cotton is made of pure and durable cotton woven on a pit-loom. Plain body with no embellishments and golden thread work embellished Nizam borders is characteristic of Mangalgirisarees.  Quite affordable and durable, many women prefer it for daily wear. Airy and lightweight, they are perfect for hot climate.

History of Mangalgiri:

It is dated to 1520 and mentions the capture of Kondavidu by Timmarasu, general of Krishna Deva Raya, in 1515 from the Gajapati rulers of Kalinga (ancient Odisha). Another stone near the temple of Garudalvar has inscriptions on four sides recording grants in the reign of Sadasiva Raya of Vijayanagara Empire 1538. The lofty gopuram in the temple at the foot of the hill was erected by Raja VasireddyVenkatadriNayudu in 1807-1809, and in terms of sculpture and architecture this temple stands to be an ultimate testament for the ancient vishwakarmasthapathis in planning and sculpting these temples.

Mangalagiri was under the control of GolkondaNawabs for a long period. It was plundered in 1780 by Hyder Jung but could not be conquered. In 1816, a gang of Pindaris again looted the place. It slowly recovered from these two attacks during the time of Raja VasireddyVenkatadriNayudu who ruled the place from Amaravati. There is a big koneru (tank) in the center of the place which went dry in 1882. As many as 9,840 guns and 44 bullets which might have been related to Pindaris have been found here after the Pindaris looted this place.The picturesque hill was visited by the great Sri Krishna Deva Raya.

In the 1970s there was huge water scarcity in Mangalagiri. GoliGopalaRao, the then municipal chairman of Mangalagiri, brought water to the town through water pipelines and he was called “AparaBaghiratha” due to his services to the public.

The process of weaving a MangalgiriSaree:


The cotton yarn which is brought from the mills are in Hank form is creaming in colour and contain several impurities like oils, wax, cotton seeds, etc. This makes the yarn unsuitable for dyeing as the dye would not percolate into the fibres due to the wax content. So the yarn is boiled in hot water with caustic soda and soap for about 3 to 4 hours to ensure that the stickiness on the fibres slowly gives way.

After boiling, the yarn is left to soak in the same liquid overnight. The next morning, the yarn is thoroughly rinsed and the excess water is squeezed out. Once excess water is wrung out, the yarn is ready for dyeing as the yarn now has the capacity to absorb the dyes.


This is a very important step in Mangalagiri textile production. For white sarees, the yarn is bleached using either (a).bleaching powder or (b). bleaching solution.

The chemical name of the bleach used is Calcium Hypochlorite. A minimum of 7 gms of Chlorine to a litre of water is a minimum requirement. The yarn is soaked in this solution for about 30 to 45 minutes at room temperature and then washed, wrung out and suspended on bamboo sticks for drying.

In the case of colours, the yarn is soaked in dyes.Handloom industries generally use two kinds of dyes-Vat and Naphthol dyes. Both of these are chemical dyes. In both cases various colours are mixed to get different hues and shades of colours. Of these 90% of Mangalagiri textiles use Vat dyes.


The yarn that is dyed or bleached is then soaked in water in boiling temperature with soap solution and soda ash for about 15 minutes to ensure that all molecules of excess dye lying on the surface of the yarn come out. Since a mere wash does not ensure the removal of excess dye, the soda ash and soap are added.


The yarn thus dyed, is then dried out in the open on stands created for the purpose. Certain light sensitive colours are dried in the shade. It is also a practice for dyeing specialists to dye yarns of particular colours , in which case, only certain colours are mixed on certain days. This was uniformity could be maintained in shades. Weighing scales are used to measure the dye powder which is used to mix in water.


Winding of hank yarn into warp and weft

The hank is then transferred through a “charka” and shift bamboo into a bobbin and is now called the warp. The weft is made by winding the hank yarn into a Pirn. The weft is then inserted into a shuttle.

Next, the warp from the bobbin is rolled out into a warp machine which is a big circular contraption, with bamboo sticks. By a rotating process, the yarn is rolled out of several bobbins into the warp machine. Now the hank yarn is in the form of a warp.

Street sizing-

Next the warp is mounted on bamboo sticks and is extended to its full length. Then it is sprayed with rice conjee to reinforce the fibres and make it amenable for weaving. This is done for about 45 minutes, and depending upon the time of the day and weather conditions, the fibres are left to dry.

Weaving process

After street sizing, the warp is ready for weaving. It is mounted on a beam, and the weft which is in the Pirn is placed inside a shuttle and placed perpendicular to the warp beam. For every pull of the lever, the weft moves across the warp once thus adding to a weave.

This was the traditional method of weaving the warp and weft. However nowadays, the jacquard is used and cards with punched holes are inserted and placed appropriately to affect the required designs on the cloth.

One warp can make about 4 sarees

1warp = 12 hanks

1 weft = 10 hanks

Zari is wound in small bobbins and is used only for the border. Since Mangalagirisarees do not have any woven designs on the body, the Zari is used only for the border. It is very significant to note that Mangalagiri cotton textiles are woven only on Pitlooms.

A pit is dug on the ground, and the weaver sits with his feet planted in a pit below the ground level. The loom is placed on the ground so that much force could be applied with balance while the weaving process takes place. Many other kinds of weaving involve pedal loom, or stand loom wherein, the loom is mounted above. In this case the weaver is able to force himself a little more to be able to weave the characteristic Nizam border into the weave. Admittedly, this border which is created without a gap in the edge of the textile requires much skill and manual capacity. These elements characterize Mangalagiri textile weaving, as being different from other kinds of weaves.

Cutting & folding:

The woven yarn cloth is then cut according to the requirement of the goods which is to be made into. Then the cloth is folded and sent for inspection to the master weavers.


Interesting Facts about Mangalgiri:

An ancient town of Mangalgiri has a rich history and there are many fascinating facts and stories attached to it. Check out some interesting facts about this ancient town that will blow you away.


Weavers of MangalgiriSaree:

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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.