Sonepur, also known as Subarnapur (as in the district), has always featured prominently on the economic, social and cultural map of the state; But the history of Sonepur began in the 8th century AD when Bhanjas began ruling the region, followed by dynasties such as Somavamsis, Telugu Chodas, Kalachuais, Gangas and Chauhans. Now in the Subarnapur district of Odisha, this temple city is bustling for its deep religious fervor and elaborate history. For those visiting the city, a tour of some of the major temples is the perfect gateway to Odisha’s rich culture.
Home to many craft skills, Odisha is a strong talent hub when it comes to arts and crafts. Paintings, textiles, embroidery and tribal ornaments, the state showed expertise in all areas. While every side road in Sonepur tells a very sacred tale of history and religion, the area is famous for another aspect that adds to its vibrancy – the texture.
For generations, Odisha weavers toil hard with their looms to produce garments suitable for the gods and mortals. Sonepur woven sarees and clothing items are known for their unique ‘Bomkai’ designs, also known as the more popular ‘Bandha’ or Ikat designs. Developed using Jala technology, Sonepur’s Bomkai Sarees find takers all over the world for their intricate work.
Bombay sarees are named after the region in which they originated. This craft involves dyeing both warp and weft as per the requirements of the individual. For boundary design, convolution is handled alone; For the fabric that drapes over the shoulder, the weft is processed and for the overall saree design, both the twist and the weft are processed. Deeply influenced by tribal art, the Bombay cotton saree is embroidered with temple tower patterns on the borders and includes motifs such as canthipula, atassi flower, lotus, flies, birds, peacocks, fish, elephants and ducks, all in geometric shapes. Inspired by religious life, the colors used in this traditional craft include the colors common in temples – black, white, red and yellow. In Sonepur, spend some time learning more about these weavers, the traditional natural dying process, and the designs and works of the jala.