Uppada Sarees

Uppada Sarees- Introduction:

Uppada Soft Silk Sarees

Soft and delicately woven, Uppada soft silk sarees are a manifestation of a woman’s emotions. An epitome of beauty, liveliness, resilience, strength and vigour, a woman has been the source of inspiration in putting life into the silk sarees known for their soft texture, spirited colors, distinct decorative patterns, artistic zari work and exquisite designs. Considered one of the most labour intensive and pain staking forms of handloom weaving, Uppada silk sarees are made of fine muslin that is best known for its softness and strength. Glorious looking and light weight, these almost translucent silk sarees hold great esteem the world over and are seen as one of the foremost contributors to India’s textile chronicles. Due to the comfort factor attached to the rich looking Uppada saree, it is a preferred choice of today’s women during occasions of weddings, festivals and formal gatherings.

History of Uppada:

Uppada is a beach town in east Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh which is world famous for its soft silk sarees.Considered one of the most labour intensive forms of hand loom weaving, they are made of fine muslin using the age old weaving technique called Jamdani. It is popularly known as Neelambari in North and Uppada in South India. Traditionally woven around Dhaka and created on the loom brocade, Jamdani is fabulously rich in motifs and its patterns are mostly of geometric, plant, and floral designs. Due to the exquisite pain-staking methodology required, only aristocrats and royal families were able to afford such luxuries. A sole community known as Padmasalis is engaged in the weaving of these sarees which also have artistic zari work in their exquisite designs. Unfazed and unfathomable with their distinct decorative patterns, glorious translucent look and light weight, Uppada sarees are not only a weaver’s delight but also the one who wears it.
History of Jamdani:

The word Jamdani is of Persian origin; Jam meaning flower and Dani meaning a vase.  The earliest mention of origin of Jamdani and its development as an industry is found in Kautilya’s Arthashastra which is a book of economics, about 3rd century BC, where it is stated that this fine cloth was used in Bangla and Pundra. Its mention is also found in the book of Periplus of the Eritean Sea and in the accounts of Arab, Chinese and Italian travelers and traders.

Jamdani is a hand loom woven fabric made of cotton, which historically was referred to as muslin.  Jamdani weaving tradition is of Bengali origin.  It is one of the most time and labor intensive forms of hand loom weaving. It is undoubtedly one of the varieties of finest muslin. Traditionally woven around Dhaka and created on the loom brocade, Jamdani is fabulously rich in motifs.

Jamdani patterns are mostly of geometric, plant, and floral designs and are said to originate in Persian and Mughal fusion thousands of years ago. There can be designs with peacocks and leaves of creepers.  Due to the exquisite pain-staking methodology required, only aristocrats and royal families were able to afford such luxuries. The butis (motifs) across the warp, the paar (border) and anchal (the portion that goes over and beyond the shoulder) are woven by using separate bobbins of yarn for each color. The fine bobbins are made from tamarind wood or bamboo. After completion the cloth is washed and starched.Somewhat like tapestry work where small shuttlesof colored, gold or silver threads are passed through the weft, the Jamdani designs range from the “butidar”, where the entire sari is scattered with floral sprays, to diagonally-striped floral sprays or the “tercha” and a network of floral motifs called “jhalar”. With time, the designs and colors have changed. In the 1960s, Jamdani work on red fabric became very popular. The production methods have also changed. Previously, popcorn, rice or barley was used for starch and for dye they used flowers and leaves of creepers. These days weavers buy fine yarn from the market and use chemical dyes instead of herbal dyes.Time has also influenced the designs in Jamdani. Keeping up the modern demand, present day Jamdani saris have on their ground designs of rose, jasmine, lotus, bunches of bananas, bunches of ginger and sago. The Victoria and Albert Museum of London exhibit a fine collection of Jamdani. As an industry, however, Jamdani production is on the decline and the hard-working, highly skilled weavers are finding it hard to keep the tradition of their forefathers alive in a market that is not expanding.  But apart from the sentimentality associated with past glory, it must be recognized that the Jamdani industry can only survive if the market is expanded and Jamdani is made more popular before losing this rich piece of heritage forever.


Jamdani Weaving Technique:

  • For traditional Jamdani weaving, a very elementary pit loom is used and the work is carried on by the weaver and his apprentice.
  • The latter works under instruction for each pick, weaving his needle made from, buffalo horn or tamarind wood to embroider the floral sequence.
  • With a remarkable deftness, the weft yarn is woven into the warp in the background color from one weaver to the other.
  • The pattern of the design drawn on paper is pinned beneath the warp threads and as the weaving proceeds the designs are worked in like embroidery.
  • When the weft thread approaches close to where a flower or other figure has to be inserted, the weaver takes up on a set of bamboo needles round each of which is wrapped yarn of a different color as needed for the design.
  • As every weft of woof thread passes through the warp he sews down the intersected portion of the pattern with one or another of the needles as might be required, and so continues till the pattern is completed. Very often, two persons work together on a sari. Traditionally, jamdanis were white of fine cotton, with designs in bleached white.
Common motif found in Uppada/jamdani sarees are:

  • Kamal or Lotus flower
  • Asawalli (flowering vinesP
  • Bangadi Mor (peacock in bangle)
  • Tota-Maina (parrot and maina)
  • Humarparinda (peasant bird)


Padmashalis: The sole community weaving Uppada silk sarees

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

Refer to: http://www.shatika.co.in/shatipedia/handloom-weavers/padmashalis-of-uppada/  to know more about Padmashalis of Uppada.



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