Siddipet is famous for its handloom sarees called Gollabhama sarees which are unique for their inlay technique and motifs. These sarees get their name from the decorative motifs that are used – the gollabhama(milkmaid). The motifs are said to have been inspired by the charm of the women of the golla (cattle-rearing) community – dressed in their brightly hued skirts and veils carrying pots of milk and curd.
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.
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.
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.
For purchase inquiry contact: Praveen Thumma, a master weaver at +91 9908115519