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Origin & History:
Telia Rumal literally means ‘ Oily handkerchief’. The craft has its origin in Andhra Pradesh and dates back to early 19th Century. Though it started in Chirala its currently practiced by a few weavers in Puttapaka village of Nalgonda district. The rectangular telia cloths were used as a veil/scarves by women and a multipurpose cloth by men ( turban,lungi, shoulder cloth ).
They were also exported to Asia Africa and other gulf countries. We are told that the printed replicas produced by Manchester textiles was the reason behind the decline of this craft. The technique was later adapted to create sarees and dupattas.
Telia rumal is a very intricate and laborious double ikat weave. As the name suggests the yarn is treated with oil The products used for the treatment of the yarn are sheep dung castor pod ashes and oil. The treated yarn which is used for the warp ( length ) and weft ( width ) is tied and dyed in accordance with a predetermined geometrical design.
Each of the warp and weft threads are individually positioned on the loom prior to weaving hence it’s crucial for the weaver to ensure perfection. Only 3 colors are traditionally used – red black and white in geometrical designs. Weaving a telia rumal needs a great amount of practice and perfection for the warp and weft to be meticulously converted to an artistic design. The number of motifs makes it more complex and difficult to weave.
Current scenario :
Puttapaka is a village in the Narayanpur mandal/samsthan of Nalgonda district of Andhra Pradesh . Its famous for its tie and dye sarees mainly the Telia Rumal. The community of weavers are known as the Puttapaka Padmashalis.
Only a couple of weavers from the Padmashali community are currently practicing this exquisite craft in the village of Puttapaka. Due to the laborious process of the oil treatment, it has been done away with and alizarin dyes are being used. It still takes over two months to weave a saree.
Most other weavers have now taken to the single and double ikat form of weaving and introduced modern designs. They now have a dim memory of the telia rumal that they once used to weave . The next generation is not taking forward this craft and have moved to other lucrative professions.
Not to forget the invasion of power looms. The master weavers who have won national awards for the telia rumal still take pride in talking about this craft and say that with a little support coming from the government the telia rumal is set for a comeback however still a long way to go. The number of weavers committing suicide is also seeing a decline. Small initiatives like providing yarn to the weavers at subsidized rate may help.