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Dharmavaram – Place of handloom silk

Dharmavaram is located at a distance of 47 KM from Anantapur district in the state of Andhra Pradesh India. Dharmavaram is well-connected by both by rail and road.

The place has derived its name from 'Dharmamba', the mother of 'Sri Kriyasakthi Odeyar' who constructed the local Dharmavaram tank.

Place of interest
There is a temple named Sri Lakshmi Chennakeshwara Temple which is renowned for its architectural brilliance and for the perennial waterspout and pillars, which produce seven different musical notes when struck. It has a storied tower, extensive enclosures and an entrance. Sri Lakshmi is the eternal cohort of Lord Mahavishnu as per Hindu mythology.

Dharmavaram’s specialty
Dharmavaram is known for its cotton and silk weaving-industry with its silk sarees popular all over the world. This place is also known for its expertise in making leather puppets.

Dharmavaram Handlooms
Dharmavaram is eminent throughout the country for its elegant silk sarees. Its cotton and silk weaving industry has made the city renowned not only in India, but throughout the world. Usually these sarees have broad borders, adorned by brocaded gold patterns. In the language of weavers brocaded means that are having heavy zari works with big designs in the border and pallu. Not following any color contrast, Dharmavaram saris comprise heavy 'pallus' with exclusive designs. Besides silk, Dharmavaram also produces saree in different materials, like Cotton, Tussar silk, Cotton silk, etc. The variety of handlooms could range from cushion covers to bed sheets, curtains to carpets and various other things. Dharmavaram is a famous hub for silk. There is an area itself dedicated for weaving and selling of silk clothes. There are around one lakh weaving looms in Dharmavaram. Saree cost ranges from `2,000 to `1,00,000 with usual price value at `8,000. The designs in the sarees are done by using kundans, chamkies, stones and also opposite colours.

Specialty in Handlooms
Dharmavaram silk sarees are famous for its broad solid coloured borders with contrast pallu woven with brocaded gold patterns and are the coveted wedding sarees. Simpler patterns for every day use have the specialty of being woven in two colours which give an effect of muted double shades accentuated by the solid colour border and pallu. Though the Dharmavaram sarees are some what similar to Kancheepuram sarees of Tamilnadu, yet the muted colours, the double shades create a total different effect.

Process of weaving
Dharmavaram handlooms are well known for the durability of the colours used in the yarn. The mixture of colour gives the durability. Usually Dharmavaram handlooms are made in cotton and silk. The count used in weaving gives the softness and hardness of the fabric.  Count means the number of threads used in the length and breadth for weaving known as warp and weft respectively. Each and every thread of the Dharmavaram saree is hand woven. Each weaver works from home with all his / her family helping in different steps of the process. The core materials used for manufacturing the saree are Silk / Cotton and Zari.

The process of manufacturing a Dharmavaram Saree starts with dyeing the silk / cotton yarn.  Dyeing is the coloring process street Dyeingby dipping the yarn in the boiled color water in very high temperature, higher the temperature durability of colour is also higher. Dyeing of the yarnis done making sure that the color is spread uniformly throughout the yarn and it doesn't affect the quality of the yarn. The coloring process is a very crucial step in getting a good saree. The colours are applied as per the specifications of the designers and also some times as per the orders from customers who orders for a designer Saree. After coloring the silk yarn is dried in shade. Drying yarn in sun can be harmful to yarn. After the silk yarn is dried, it is rolled over small sticks. After dyeing and drying the yarn it is converted to thread and is loaded as warp and then it is loaded into the loom for actual weaving.

Weaving: - Dharmavaram Sarees are traditionally woven in the interlocked-weft technique. Pure silk versions of Dharmavaram sarees street Dyeingare also available. The design required on the saree is initially drawn in a computer and then this is punched into a card and then these cards are loaded in Jacard in the loom. First the yarn is loaded as warp and then loaded into the loom. The weavers use their hands and legs to weave the Saree. It requires approximately 4-8 days (depending on the variety of saree) of continuous efforts of two persons for weaving a saree.

Decline of Handloom Industry

Once famous Dharmavaram Handloom products are now becoming extinct due to the low wages prevailing in the industry. Previously Dharmavaram was full of talented weavers who used to do magic in the looms to produce the best handloom products. Now you can see very small number of weavers is actually in the profession. It is informed by the locals that presently Dharmavaram sarees are weaved somewhere else and sold as Dharmavaram Sarees. There is an emergency situation to take necessary action to protect the traditional Dharmavaram Sarees.

Weaver’s Voice
The weavers demand a responsible role by the government to protect the handloom industry by providing subsidy for yarn and a rehabilitation package for the weavers who have suffered due to the rains. They hope that if the government takes the responsibility to support the handloom industry by way of showcasing and marketing the handloom products, then only the industry can survive or else the present situation is leading to the end of handloom industry in Dharmavaram. The new generation is also not interested in the profession due to the hard labour and long hours spend to bring out the finished product, but the returns are not lucrative to make them stay in the profession.

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