Some traditions never fade, they just continue to re-appear in newer forms. Mangalagiri Handlooms are one such.
What is so special about the Mangalagiri weave?
Mangalagiri Handlooms are crisp-finish fabrics of cotton, cotton-silk or mercerized cotton, known for their heavy gold thread embroidery or Zari borders, Nizam designs and striking colour combinations. Mangalagiriis known for its good count quality weaves and fine handloom cotton sarees and salwar suits.
Be it the saree or the salwar kameez, the chic kurti, the appealing kurtas or the individualistic designer dupattas, always gets recognized for its typical Mangalagiri features. Heavy gold thread or zari borders, traditional Nizam designs, and simple mono-striped or multi-colour striped dupattas adorn the fabric. Various motifs like leaf, mango, parrot, gold coin, add to the appeal of the cotton clothing. The Block prints and embroidery designs make them more captivating. There are some features unique to a Mangalgiri handloom Punjabi suit. The soft and comfortable all-season fabric generally does not have designs on the body. It is also known for not having gaps in its weave. Count is an indication of the fineness of a handloom weave. Counts range from 40 (coarse) to 120 (super fine), with the normal count of 80 – 80 being used for soft woven fabric.
Salwar Kameez – traditional apparel gone trendy
The Salwar kameez with covering piece dupatta or chunni, is worn in India and a few neighbouring countries in the Asian sub-continent. The salwar suit, is the traditional dress in the Northern belt especially Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, some parts of Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir and in parts of the Indian subcontinent like Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Today also favoured as stylish fashion apparel, across India and in many countries with Indian population overseas like US, UK, Canada etc., it is also an accepted alternative for the versatile Indian saree. The Salwar suit has evolved from a traditional dress to reach the level of a modern style statement. In vivid, vibrant colours, exquisite designs and a lot of other adornments, it has been a favourite along with the saree for Indian fashion designers to experiment upon.
Unnati Silks and its MangalagiriSalwar Kameez ranges
Unnati Silks has been involved with the magic of the Mangalagiri ‘magic’ since a very long time, but again it has not been restricted to one line of clothing alone. Be it the classy saree or the stylish salwar suit, the chic kurti, the appealing kurta or the mesmerizing designer dupatta, Unnati Silks offers classy products from the temple town.
Today let us explore the Punjabi suit and the designs suggested and accomplished by Unnati Silks through the Mangalagiri handloom weaver.
- You have the Mangalagiri Pure Handloom Cotton Fusion that has a kameez with a wide Kutchi designer border flanked again on its outer by the geometrical design print border in a patch work exercise of finesse. The dupatta contributes massively in this range being in single, dual and multicolor missing checks pattern with lovely tasseled ends on both sides is a bewitching idea.
- The focus is on the interplay of colors of the Kameez and the Dupatta with the plain salwar in contrast to the Kameez color being a silent accompaniment. E.g. If there are diagonal stropes on the Kameez the dupatta is plain colored and vice versa. At times the plain dupatta could have a thin border of color or golden zari. Incidentally zari comes as a lining in the most unexpected ways but delights tremendously as additional allure. A particular product with the kameez having a diagonally arranged figurines appliqué patch is a mesmerizing offering.
- There is a range of pure Mangalagiri cottons that has the kameez having multicolor longitudinal stripes to single color diagonal stripes to simple plain but with attach borders. Some offerings have light bootis scattered over the kameez expanse.
- The purely designer affair has all three – the kameez, the salwar and the dupatta – all engaged in their own designs of geometrical, floral and unique print designs but combined beautifully to offer a sensation in harmony. In this range of clothing you can find the ikat designer printed dupattas in simple but elegant designs that go very well with the mesh pattern self color kameez weaves. As usual the typical zari lining border is very much on display too.
- Sometimes the Mangalagiri pure cotton salwar kameez would be a simple plain affair with contrast colors and all focus would be on the designer dupatta. In unstitched and semi-stitched formats for the customer’s benefit, these salwar suits would be a buyer’s delight.
- Kalamkari comes out beautifully on quality cottons and so the Mangalagiri fabric with lovely designs and images in Kalamkari on the kameez, gets contrasted by a plain salwar. The dupatta with a different contrast colored missing checks pattern adds to a tremendous uplifting look.
- There is a special range in floral flavours. An experiment with Dabu floral prints on the kameez accompanied by indigo colored blue and white prints on the salwar and dupatta, gives an eye-catching novel attraction. At times the positioning of the zari lining border provides exceptional allure. Some offerings having the checks design in black and white in the dupatta look awesome.
- Experimentation touched with imagination can provide wonders. The provision of a different colored but fairly wide border is an amazing concept. It makes the visible portion of the salwar seem to start much higher than usual. This gives it a special appeal. If the salwar and the kameez are both of the same color with only the wide border colored differently it looks sensational. If the salwar and kameez are differently colored then it will be a mix and match of three different colors and the appeal rests on which color is used where. Either way the dupatta is designer and adds to heightening the effect.
- There is a mix and match formula also that has been tried successfully. If the Kameez is a simple plain colored one lightly strewn about with motifs, the salwar and dupatta could be a zigag designer affair that adds a zingy look. Florals on the kameez could get competition from free hand design on the salwar, with the dupatta being a half-half affair.
- There comes a time when adornment is pushed aside and a simple play of colors is used to create an engaging display for the eyes. A rivalry for attention between the salwar and dupatta versus the dominant kameez.
- With only the kameez having color and surrounded by indigo prints in blue and white on the salwar and dupatta, it is an interesting piece of wear especially in dimly lit conditions where the flashy indigo serves to lighten the immediate surroundings.
- And of course you always can try out the flashy and vibrant the dazzling and bewitching tones of neon shades to mild pastels that are always a crowd puller. Bright yellow and white, the color blue in its most bright shade and the slightly duller one, the magnetic green and the neon hue, all these are always welcome.
The Mangalagiri weaver and his mesmerizing weaves
- If the Mangalagiri weave is world famous it is because of the Mangalagiri weaver, whose innovative ideas and dedication to the task at hand have contributed majorly.
- Organized into family groups and co-operative societies they have a clear idea about market trends. Naturally they are able to cater to the taste of the market with unique designs and mesmerizing patterns.
- There is a healthy capacity of the weavers to experiment. Initially zari was only used for lining the borders. Today it not only adorns borders but engages motifs and designs on the pallu as well.
- Ikat tie & dye has been experimented with and successfully, on the Mangalagiri handloom cottons, thereby increasing their visibility and widening thereach.
- The weavers use basic designs but incorporate some striking colour combinations such as baby pink with a magenta border, maroon with mustard stripes, olive green with navy blue and so on.
- Another speciality of Mangalgiri is the nizam border. The nizam border typically has tiny zarigopurs (temple tops), which run through the borders of many fabrics.
- In shot cotton fabrics, they create magic. The weavers map out the warp yarns and then use different colours on the weft to create double shaded fabrics. If the warp threads are yellow, and the weft threads green, red, or orange, the end result is greenish-yellow, sunset orange, or a deep yellow fabric.
- Mangalgiri cotton is available in a breathtaking array of colours. It is available as plain fabric, shot cotton, stripes, checks and special weaves. Almost everything is woven on the handlooms – dress materials, shirt pieces, double-colouredduppattas (stoles), bootis (small woven motifs), stripes, checks, and sarees in an assortment of counts.
- Mangalgiri offers an unmatched range of textile styles from a single weaving cluster. The fabrics are in high demand by designers, boutique owners, garment manufacturers, exporters and even furniture manufacturers.
- Colours that combine well, prints that are sharp and detailed, fine and exquisite, Mangalagiri cottons have the traditional touch but the trendy taste. Bagru and Dabu block prints come out fine on the good count weaves of the Mangalagiri handloom cotton.
A historical brief of the temple town Mangalagiri
Just to give an idea about Mangalagiri of Guntur district, Andhra Pradesh, India, it is between Vijayawada and Guntur on National Highway No. 5. In fact the new capital of Andhra Pradesh state Amaravathi is adjacent to Mangalagiri or “Auspicious Hill”. During the Vijayanagara rule it was known as Mangala Nilayam and then later came to be known as Totadri.
The temple town of Mangalagiri dates back to 1520. The Gajapathi rulers of Kalinga (ancient Odisha) lost it to Timmarasu, the general of Shri Krishna Deva Raya of the Vijayanagara empire. In fact in 1538 Sadasiva Raya of the Vijayanagara Empire was ruling here. Many years later in 1807, Raja VasireddyVenktadriNayudu had a temple constructed here whose lofty gopuram is considered an architectural marvel to this day and bears a testimony of the planning and sculpting of that age.
Somewhere during that time Mangalagiri came under the rule of the Golconda Nawabs and stayed so for a long time. Many an attack at different times in history was made, that caused Mangalagiri to be plundered heavily. But during the Vijayanagar rule, the temples of Narayana Swamy were also built and give the place a holy reverence to this day.
Mangalagiri weaves are blessed by the Lord and Unnati Silks has been blessed through a lasting association with its craftsmen. When tradition through devoted craftsmanship merges with innovative ideas and their creative application, it is but natural that the offerings would not be short of sensational and that is exactly what the Mangalagiri salwar suits of the Unnati Silks Collection are.