Handloom Sarees of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana

  • Read about eight saree types, one better than the other, of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Each type has unique designs.

Andhra Pradesh is situated on the south eastern coast of India. Telangana was carved out of Andhra a few years ago. Andhra has one of the longest coast lines running along the Bay of Bengal, huge deposits of minerals and is very rich in agriculture and textiles. 


Andhra Pradesh is well-known for its huge variety of traditional silk and cotton saris. Many districts in Andhra Pradesh have their own unique weaving patterns, styles and methods. Saris that are specific to a particular district are named after their place of origin. Apart from the designs, the fabric that is been used in making the sari is different from one district to another, it has its own specialty and uniqueness.


Here are the textiles of Andhra Pradesh.


1. Mangalgiri Sarees

Mangalgiri fabrics have an ancient history.

The name is derived from the temple town of Mangalagiri which lies in the Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh. The weavers’ community settled there is at least 600 years old. The exquisite sarees are in demand across the world. About 40% of the Mangalagiri population is dependent on handloom weaving and allied industry i.e. yarn dealers, traders, warpers, dyers etc.


Speciality of the sarees lies in the basic textures made of fine cotton yarn. Extra warp design in the border enhances the beauty of the sarees.


Weaving Process 

The pure cotton yarns are first dipped in boiling water to remove impurities, then soaked and rinsed overnight. The yarns are then sent for dyeing and finally washed again. The pre-loom process of this handloom starts with the winding of the yarns into warp and wefts then spraying rice conjee onto the yarn to make it suitable for weaving. What makes it beautifully identifiable is the dual textured shine attained by weaving gold and silver zari yarns along with the cotton ones!

Reference and Credits

Reference and Credits

2. Narayanpet Sarees - Telangana

Narayanpet sarees are made from cotton as well as by mixing silk with cotton. Their borders and pallu are very traditional. They come in contrasting colours with special pallus and are elegant looking. You get a variety of Narayanpet sarees like plain silk, checks with different traditional and simple looking borders.


These saris are from Narayanpet town in Telangana. Their borders and pallus are very traditional. They are characterized by a rich pallu with a unique pattern of alternating red and white bands. The border is usually a flat expanse of deep maroon red or chocolate red thinly separated by white or coloured lines. They come in contrasting colours with special pallus and simple borders.


The warp and weft of these sarees are 80’s combed cotton and dyed in Vat colours. The saris are simple and very light in weight. Because of their affordability, durability and low maintenance, these saris have gained immense popularity.


Reference and Credits

Good collection of Saris – Reference and Credits

3. Venkatagiri Sarees

History & Origin

The Venkatagiri Sarees, known for their fine weaving, date back to early 1700 when these sarees were produced at an artisan cluster close to Nellore called Venkatagiri. The place was then known as ‘Kali Mili’ and its famous product was patronized by the Velugoti Dynasty of Nellore.


The weavers back then weaved sarees only for royal families. In return were paid well enough such that it would last them a year or till the next order was placed. More recently, Venkatagiri Sarees got widespread publicity because of importing the Jamdani design from Bangladesh.


Weaving of Venkatagiri Sarees

The weavers of Venkatagiri mainly produce sarees of cotton, silk or cotton/silk mix.


The counts in the fabric give softness to the fabric. More the counts softer the fabric and vice versa. The counts used in cotton are usually 100 (length) – 100 (breadth) and in silk it is 3 ply.


These sarees come in many varieties. Venkatagiri 100 is the lightest among all varieties and most popular. Venkatagiri silk is made up of fine silk using the famous Jamdani technique. Another variety of this artwork is the Venkatagiri pattu saree which has a border made out of zari using Jamdani technique and the center is worked up with floral motifs.

Reference and Credits

Reference and Credits

4. Madhavaram

Madhavaram is a small village, situated on the banks of river Penna, in the  Kadapa district.


Madhavaram sarees have petu border with jacquard or zari pallus. Most of these sarees are brightly coloured and can be used for daily and occasional wear. The weavers of Madhavaram produce 6 yards sarees specially meant for brides. 


Moduga Puvvu from the nearby forests are used for the reddish border of bridal sarees. Weavers mostly use vegetable colours for dyeing. Even Madhavaram Madhuparkams (the single wrap of dhoti and saree for the bride and bridegroom) are famous. The use of natural colours like green, yellow, red, orange, maroon, etc. is common in these sarees.

Reference and Credits

Reference and Credits – good read.

5. Dharamavaran

Origin and history

Dharmavaram sarees are the exclusive patronage of the town of Dharmavaram, in the Anantapura district of Andhra Pradesh. This ancient town gets its name from Dharmamba, who was the mother of Kriya Shakthi Vodavaru Swamy, the founder of the town.


The town took to silk weaving due to the abundance of mulberry trees around the area, which makes for a natural breeding ground for wild silk worms. By the 19th century, the mulberry silk Dharmavaram sarees found nationwide recognition for the sheer brilliance and beauty of the weave.


Making of Dharmavaram Sarees

It requires two artisans to weave continuously for 6 to 7 days with mulberry silk and zari to complete a Dharmavaram saree. Dharmavaram can be used to make skirts as well. The popularity of art has increased its demand among all women.


To meet the market demand sarees are now being produced using machines. Machines do not have the same look and feel of handmade products but are still considered as good as handmade ones.


According to their design and style, Dharmavaram sarees have different name for example Dharmavaram temple pallu saree, Kala Anjali Dharmavaram sarees, etc. 


Dharmavaram saree has motifs of flora and fauna woven into its fabric. Dharmavaram’s zari work makes it stand out in the crowd of other sarees. Other designs are inspired by temples and old paintings. Commonly used zari threads are red, green, silver, and golden.

Reference and Credits

6. Gadwal, Telangana


Gadwal sarees are produced in Godwal and surrounding areas, in the district of Mehabubnagar. It is about 200 kms from Hyderabad and near the banks of river Krishna.


The origin of Gadwal Sarees can be traced back to about 200 years. Then Gadwal was the capital of a small kingdom, locally called as “Samasthanam.” The Maharani of the kingdom ‘Adhi Lakshmi Devamma’ promoted the craft with the help of a few weavers who had come to Gadwal from various coastal areas. Initially Gadwal Sarees were called as ‘Mathiampeta’.


The Beauty of a Gadwal Saree

Gadwal sarees are a beautiful and ornate part of the rich Indian textile heritage. A Gadwal sari is known for its rich look, brilliants colours and simple yet ornate zari work.


The specialty of a traditional Gadwal sari is that the body is woven in cotton threads while the border and pallu are made of silk. This aspect of textile diversity attracts many women as it is unconventional and uncommon, even in India. This is done using a special weaving technique that manoeuvre’s the weft thread.


There are a number of different elements that work together to make the Gadwal sari such a desirable sari. It is known for featuring one colour on the body of the saree and another on the border and the pallu. One of the main reasons why women prefer buying a Gadwal sari is that the Gadwal shows some really brilliant contrasts as well as subtle and elegant distinctions with the option of subtle, well-spaced embellishments. The range of colours to choose from is very vast and tends to suit different style sensibilities.


The other attractive feature is that Gadwal sarees showcase luxurious and elaborate zari work on the border and the pallu, making them simply beautiful to behold and ideal for formal events. The zari embroidery on the pallu of a traditional Gadwal sari fills the width and breadth of the available area and is extremely intricate. It is not necessary that this work be done in strips or simple weaves; traditional patterns such as the nature inspired paisley and peacock motifs as well as others that are inspired by religious architecture are also used to embellish this classic saree.


The border may be thick or thin and can usually be classified as traditional and modern. As embellishments in the saree go, most Gadwal sarees have tassels made from the warp filaments of the fabric itself. This gives the saree a beautiful look and also adds to the beauty of the wearer.


It is interesting to note that since the Gadwal sari is a handloom textile it is considered as an important part of a bride’s trousseau and gifting the bride silk Gadwal sarees is a matter of pride in south India.


Reference and Credits

Reference and Credits

7. Uppada Pattu Sarees

Uppada Pattu sarees are made from the age old Jamdani method. These sarees are famous for the unique designs. Weavers use non-mechanical techniques in weaving these sarees. Uppada Silk sarees are described by the length and breadth count of threads. Light weight is the speciality of these sarees. The colours used in these sarees are very attractive. These are worn on special occasions.


History of Uppada pattu sarees

Before knowing the story of Uppada Silk, one has to know the course of the Jamdani weaving method. After a lag in the 19th century due to the manufacturing failure in England, Jamdani witnessed a moderate improvement in the 20th century. As a result, the method of Jamdani was introduced in Uppada where it included designs which became popular in Andhra Pradesh. Thus started a new variety of silk sarees named Uppada Silk Sarees.


Moreover, it took about ten years for Uppada Sarees to get appreciation. The name Jamdani in Uppada Jamdani Sari is part of Persian vocabulary, in which Jam is flower and Dani is Vase. Jamdani style of weaving was started in Bangladesh. In the 18th Century, it was taken to the south and in Uppada village of East Godavari region, Andhra Pradesh.


Measurements and weight of Uppada pattu saree

For weaving Uppada silk sarees, the length of strings is 100 and the width is also 100. For Jamdani style of weaving two weavers will work on a single loom to produce delicate and wonderful patterns on the saree.


The count which is used in weaving of these sarees gives softness to the fabric. In hand loom weaving, fabric count means the number of threads woven length and breadth wise. This type of weaving is also known as warp and wept respectively in a square inch.


Why Uppada pattu sarees are lightweight

Uppada pattu sarees are very light compared to other sarees. The weaving pattern is jamdani class. Because of using pure zari these sarees are said to be light weight. The patterns and themes of Upppada silk are very unique and the bright colours make the saree appear even lighter.


These beautiful Uppada pattu sarees were weaved with silk, gold and silver zari threads. Women prefer to wear these Uppada silk sarees on their wedding and other special occasions.


Being light in weight, the floral designs, peacock or curved motifs in the Jamdani pattern, perfectly aligned in margins and a beautiful matching pallu, make the saree look extremely attractive.


Types of Uppada sarees

Weavers of uppada sarees have developed many patterns and varieties. Here is the list of different types of uppada sarees.

• Plain uppada pattu sarees
• Multi colour uppada sarees
• Half and half uppada sarees
• Checks uppada sarees
• Big border uppada sarees
• Uppada pattu saree with big pallus
• Uppada Cotton sarees
• Uppada pattu saree with pocahampally border.


How to identify Uppada Jamdani Sari

In Uppada weaving style, the designs are two-sided i.e., when we touch the cloth, we can identify that the design is not separate from the cloth. There will be no loose threads on either side of the saree.


Reference and Credits

Reference and Credits

8. Ponduru Sarees

Ponduru is a town in the Srikakulam district of north Andhra Pradesh.


Ponduru khadi is one of the finest khadis produced in the country. It is said that when Acharya Vinoba Bhave visited Ponduru he was gifted a khadi dhoti which was three metres long. It was so fine that it could be packed into a matchbox!


What makes Ponduru khadi so interesting is the painstaking procedure of weaving it. It is produced from indigenous organic cotton of a very short staple length. Two types of cotton are used to make Ponduru khadi: the red or Punasa cotton, and the white or hill cotton. While the red cotton gives a metric count of 44-65, the white count gives finer khadi with a metric count of 71-100.


There are eight steps which go into preparing this fabric. First, the cotton is cleaned in a unique manner. The serrated jawbone of the Valuga fish which is found in the fresh waters of the Godavari River is used to remove impurities from the cotton. Step two is where the seeds are removed from the cotton by rolling a thin wooden stick over it. The third step is called paralleling. It involves removal of more impurities from the cotton using a thin broomstick.


The fourth step called slivering, involves further deep cleaning of the cotton using a nylon thread and bow. This cotton is then spun in the next step and placed in dried banana stems. This process of fine spinning is different for the red cotton and white cotton, and yields different metric counts. The next step involves making this thread into sutgundis. These threads are then coloured and painstakingly woven into khadi fabric using the single wheel charkha.


Ponduru sarees are single colour sarees woven in cotton. Temple border is finely patterned on these sarees, making them exclusive and exceptional. Made popular during the Swadeshi movement by Gandhiji, these sarees are an excellent combination of strength and finesse.

Reference and Credits

Reference and Credits – good blog


The purpose of this compilation is to document and promote. We have given credits and reference links in this compilation along with third party links (to promote). In case some are missed, it is not with malafide intent. Please email full details to esamskriti108@gmail.com and we shall effect the change.


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Author Trishna Patnaik is a self-taught artist based in Mumbai, Trishna has been practising art for over 14 years. She is now a full-time professional painter pursuing her passion to create and explore to the fullest. She conducts painting workshops across India. She is also an art therapist and healer who works with clients on a one to one basis. Not to forget her quality writings on Indian Art and now Textiles for esamskriti. She fancies the art of creative writing.

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