Habaspuri Handloom: A Symbol of Tradition, Culture and Art

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Origin of Habaspuri Handloom

Origin of Habaspuri Handloom
Image Courtesy – ODI KARIGAR

Habaspuri saris are no less than a piece of art. It is popular among the handloom lovers for its unique design. Habaspuri is a handloom textile originally woven by the “Kandha Tribes” in the Habaspur village of Kalahandi district of Odisha during the 19 th century. So this handloom product is named after the village “Habaspur”, but now the sari is not woven in Habaspur anymore, and weavers of Chicheguda, Punjia, Handakhalpada, Pundkul, Limser, Palas, and Baldiamal are carrying forward the tradition of this ethnic weave. When the dynastical rule had declined, the tribal weavers stopped weaving this sari and later on, the unique weave was revived by master weaver Shri Ugrasen Meher who shifted the base to Chicheguda village and the “Bhulia” weavers again started producing the sari and fabric. Habaspuri Textile got a GI Tag (Geographical Indication Tag) in   2012-13 for its unique weave design and production.

Habaspuri Sari

Original-of-Habaspuri-Sari-01
Image Courtesy – Fabodisha

 It is a coarse cotton-based traditional handloom fabric of Odisha. Originally the length and width of the fabric were less as compared to a sari. But now it has been diversified to standard size and mercerized cotton, mulberry silk are used to weave this sari.  This sari is used as a ceremonial bridal sari by the local people.  These saris have ethnic motifs such as Kumbha (temple), fish, turtle and flower woven skilfully and distinctively on the anchal of the sari which reflects the tradition and culture of the tribe having its own identity. The specialty of this sari is that the temple motifs are arranged lengthwise on the border. These saris are woven in pit or frame looms fitted with a dobby. Habaspuri’s style of weaving is influenced by the age-old tribal tradition of the Kalahandi district.

Uniqueness of Habaspuri Handloom

Uniqueness-of-Habaspuri-Handloom
Image Courtesy – ODI KARIGAR
  • A maximum of five colours threads are used for the motifs in the border and anchal to give an attractive look to the sari.
  • A selected motif of the border (eleven karias, local method of counting motifs) is woven in the middle of the anchal in an enlarged manner to produce a harmonious effect.
  •  The vertical arrangement of the Kumbha (temple) in the border instead of the horizontal arrangement is a signature design element of the Habaspuri saris which stands apart from other saris.
  • The intermittent bindings are given skilfully in the motifs for reducing float to protect from getting distorted.
  • The Anchal (Pallu) has typical tribal motifs.

Initiatives to Promote Habaspuri Handloom

Initiatives-to-Promote-Habaspuri-Handloom
Image Courtesy – ODI KARIGAR

The uniqueness of handloom textiles in various states of India is now realised and the demand for some is on the rise while some are in a state of despair due to a lack of publicity and government incentives. An example of such a textile is the Habaspuri sari of Kalahandi. Habaspuri Weave is struggling due to low profit, inadequate patronage and market support. Now initiatives are taken by Governments and designers to promote this tribal- based weave in the following manner:

  • The Textile and Handloom Department has started training programmes in Habaspuri weaving to attract young weavers into this beautiful craft.
  • The youth are being trained at Handakhalpada in skill development, tie and dye and producing products like bedspreads, dupattas,stoles and table mats apart from saris.
  • Raw materials and looms are also provided to the trainees to make it easy for them to make the final product.

A remarkable innovative initiative is taken by Kalahandi University to encourage the young generation to use local handloom fabrics to boost the industry. The authorities of Kalahandi University have decided that the students’ uniforms should be made of Habaspuri fabric. Kalahandi University’s vice-chancellor Dr. Sanjay Kumar Satpathy said “This is a small attempt which may boost the traditional Habaspuri weavers”. Mr Sujit Meher who designed the fabric said “Habaspuri Textile have received the GI tag for their unique design and production.It is an identity of the Kalahandi district. As this art is dying, we are trying to revive it through different means. This uniform is also a part of the revival process”. 

Various steps have been taken to revive the Habaspuri weave and a lot more needs to be done for skill up gradation at regular intervals, providing marketing opportunities and production of final products of traditional weaves with a contemporary touch.

Takeaway

The Handloom industry is innately environmentally friendly and conscientious. It also offers the weavers a long- term source of income in their communities. Habaspuri needs to be more popular among the handloom lovers. Therefore the younger generation should be encouraged and motivated through proper training so that they can carry on the ancient art of weaving that reflects the social histories of their places and origin. We the handloom enthusiasts should come forward to use this cultural heritage and tradition of Odisha and preserve this beautiful craft for future generations.

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