Gollabhama Saree

Gollabhama or Gollabama sarees are globally famous, and even have the Geographical Indication Tag.

Though Siddipet Gollabhama sarees have a geographical indication tag, it hasn’t led to any boost in sales for the weavers.

Sustaining this art means getting the weavers to incorporate the motifs in stoles, dupattas and scarves and use new colour palettes which is happening slowly.The weavers replicate these silhouettes to create alluring designs on their looms with cotton as well as silk yarns. 

The saree is often in a single colour dotted with small gollabhama butas throughout the fabric, while the larger intricate motifs are showcased on the border and/or pallu (end-piece). Typically, three motifs are used for saree designs viz. Gollabhama, Bathukamma and Kolatam, with Gollabhama being the most commonly used.

These sarees get their name from the decorative motifs that are used – the gollabhama(milkmaid). Gollabhama (milkmaid motif) woven onto the border of the saree refers to women of Golla community. Lore has it that in the Dwaparyuga, milkmaids would carry pots of milk and curd to offer to Lord Krishna. The bewitching silhouette of these women in bright ghagra and choli inspired weavers to replicate it leading to Gollabhama weaving style. “Mostly, the saree is a single colour with a flower pattern interspersed throughout the body. It is the intricate motifs on the saree border which is the defining feature,” says Satyam, a master weaver involved in preserving the style. There are mainly three motifs used in the saree are Gollabhama, Bathukamma and Kolatam, with Gollabhama being the most popular in the lot.

When it comes to creating the motif, the weaver needs to meticulously pass the coloured thread through the warp to get a clear design which is time consuming. “All this while pulling the looms strings thousands of time and swinging the pedal down simultaneously. It takes more time using a single thread, so weavers generally use the double thread technique. 

The intricate Gollabhamas of these sarees are neither embroidered nor printed but are meticulously woven into the border of the saree. The design is initially drawn on a graph, and translated to a pattern using a set of 80-100 threads. These threads define the specific position where the warp is raised and coloured threads are inserted. While creating these motifs, the weaver passes coloured threads (for each motif) through the warp to achieve the resulting design.

Siddipet weave is popularly called the tie and dye weave. The uniqueness of these weaves lies in the transfer of the unique design and colour onto warp and weft threads. These are then weaved together. The fabric used for weaving purpose in Siddipet is pure cotton. The colours derived from natural sources and related blends are used in this form of weaving.

In the handlooms of Siddipet, the process of dyeing is tie and dye technique where the warp and weft are tie-dyed before these are weaved for creating unique designs on finished fabric. The precision of wrapping is the key for obtaining clarity in terms of design. After the process of wrapping is done, these warp threads are dyed.

Siddipet handlooms are renowned for the durability of the colours that are used in the yarn. The handlooms of Siddipet are hand-woven, and the frame looms are mostly used for weaving. The Siddipet Handloom Weavers Co-operative Society Ltd was established in the year 1960 in Siddipet town. The society takes up marketing and sales of the Siddipet Handloom sarees, made with Cotton. The cotton sarees of Siddipet, in the Medak region is a remarkable tradition that has brought a lot of fame to this town.

Apart from sarees, the handlooms also produce towels, bed sheets, pillow covers, and other cloth material used for decorative as well as interior purposes in homes. There is a growing interest among the customers towards choosing handloom varieties in the current era and this revival of interest and patronage is being seen as an advantage for Siddipet handlooms. The cotton sarees created here are popular all over and many weavers are now modernizing their looms and creating good market for these sarees by organizing regular exhibitions.

The handlooms of Telangana region represent rich traditions and with the advent of e-commerce and social media, the tradition is regaining its prominence and the weavers here are hopeful of a strong revival of the trade involving Siddipet handloom sarees, known for their quality and variety for many decades.

Despite global popularity and the geographical indication tag for these sarees, in the recent past the weavers haven’t found the sales to be encouraging. Weaving a Gollabhama saree takes around 3-4 days to make, but the weaver earns a meagre Rs. 350/ per saree. In its heyday, there were about 2000 weavers of the Gollabhama sarees, but today the number has dwindled to only six.

Recently, K. Chandrashekhar Rao, the Chief Minister of Telangana has called for adopting measures for the welfare and betterment of weavers in the state – by offering subsidy on yarn and also buying existing stock from weavers. He believes that specialty brands like Gollabhama sarees should be encouraged so that their past glory is restored.

Apart from buying handlooms, and perhaps adapting them in more trendy attires and accessories, one can only hope that the government’s efforts can support the weavers and help them preserve these traditional and folk arts.



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