Soft and delicately woven, Uppada 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 these uppada silk sarees that are 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 sarees are made of fine muslin that is best known for its softness and resilience. Glorious looking and light weight, these almost translucent sarees hold great esteem the world over and are seen as one of the foremost contributors to India’s textile chronicles.
The Padmashalis who in the 19th century settled in Uppada village in East Godavari district close to the port city of Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh is the sole weaver community that specializes in weaving Uppada sarees. Weaving these incredible weaves using the ancient jamdani techniques but with uniquely local adaptation, they have been weaving Uppada sarees for over 2 centuries now.
There is an interesting history associated with the Padmasaalis. It is said that the Padmashali community has its roots from Lord Sriman Narayana who is considered to be the one from whose navel Lord Brahma emerged. They are considered to be the descendants of Maharishi Brighu who was said to be born from the heart of Lord Brahma. Down the lineage of Brighu Maharishi, Bhavana Rishi who taught the technique of weaving, and his wife Bhadravathi had 101 Padmashali children and Padmashalis are the descendants of these 100 sons who are spread all over India and other parts of the World!
Weaving Uppada sarees is an intensely manual process where two weavers work together on one loom to create the delicate designs & fine fabric with zari and silk threads. Length & breadth count of threads used in weaving is 100 and it takes 2 months to make these softest & finest silk sarees that are a nice blend of tradition & trend.
Uppada patterns are mostly of geometric, plant, and floral designs and are said to originate in Persian and Mughal fusion thousands of years ago. Somewhat like tapestry work where small shuttles of 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’.
Keeping up the modern demand, present day Uppada 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 these sarees and these weavers have also received a GI registration in 2009. Due to the comfort factor attached to these rich looking sarees, they are a preferred choice of today’s women during occasions like weddings, festivals and religious ceremonies.