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Uppada – A small village famous for handlooms

Uppada is a beach town located 39 kms from Kakinada, a coastal city which comes under East Godavari district in the state of Andhra Pradesh and  is famous for beautifully designed cotton sarees. Uppada is a village which comes under East Godavari District. A small village enroute to Uppada is Peddapuram, from here Uppada is around 10 KM. Peddapuram is 19 KM from Kakinada. Uppada is a virgin village where modernization has not yet found place. The people here are very poor. The main caste here who is in the traditional weaving of famous Uppada handlooms is Padmasalis. The average educational level is 7th standard. The population of this village is around 25,000.

Uppada is well known for its traditional Jamdani / Uppada Handlooms. Uppada handlooms are well known for its unique designs. Usually Uppada handlooms are made in cotton warp and wept.

The count used in weaving gives the softness and hardness of the fabric.  The count in a handloom fabric means the number of threads woven length wise and breadth wise known as warp and wept respectively in a square inch. In Uppada the count used is 100 (length) – 120 (breadth). The count makes the quality of the fabric. The weavers in Uppada uses a technique without any mechanical aids to weave the traditional Jamdani weaving to create rich patterns using gold and silver zari for which Uppada saree weavers have received Geographical Indication (GI) registration in the year 2009. Jamdani is a hand loom woven fabric made of cotton, which historically was referred to as muslin. The Jamdani weaving tradition is of Bengali origin.

Dyeing: - First the yarn is washed and then dipped in the required colour which is in a boiler and the worker goes on turning the yarn so that the colour is evenly mixed in the yarn. The most important aspect in this process is the mixing of colours which will give unique and durable colour to the fabric. Then it is again washed and dried. These yarns are then starched. Starching of the yarn is where the colour in the yarn will get more permanent nature and gives the yarn a polished look. The starched yarn is brought from the merchants by master weavers and is distributed to weavers. (Master weavers are also weavers but they will be having a group of weavers under them). Then it is turned in a charka. The turning in charka is where the yarn will become thread, which is used for wept.

The loading of yarn in warp is the next process. Then yarn is loaded into the looms. The length of yarn which is loaded as warp is known as Pacham. A weaver can make four sarees from one pacham. It will take a week to weave one
Pacham of four sarees. The cost of Uppada saree varies from `5,000 to `80,000 and goes upto over `3 Lakh in case of specially ordered wedding sarees.

 




Weaving
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The looms used in Uppada are mostly Frame looms. Frame looms are looms which are fixed in a frame and looms peddle will be at the floor level and the weaver will sit on stool and use his hands and legs to weave.

The weavers are into this profession traditionally. None of the weavers are trained but they have acquired this unique skill hereditarily from their ancestors. The art of weaving is passed on by way of vision and practice. There are no theoretical explanations or training for weaving. But unfortunately due to the low wages the traditional weavers are opting out of this industry. New generation is not interested in this profession due to the low wages prevailing in the industry.

The handlooms in Uppada are famous for the softness and durability. Now after Uppada saree weavers received a Geographical Indication (GI) registration, Uppada sarees have world wide demand. The handloom fabrics are soft and comfortable to wear and also suites all the climates. Mainly Uppada looms manufacture sarees, but now as per demand dress materials are also weaved.

The weavers demand that only if the government can provide a rehabilitation package similar to that which is provided to the farmers who have lost crops, then only handloom industry can survive. The weavers state that only if government also takes the responsibility to support the handloom industry by providing subsidy for yarn and  promoting the marketing, then only the industry will last or else the end of handloom industry is not far from near. The high cost of handloom fabrics is also limiting the marketability.  The handloom industry is searching for a break through for survival.