Nellore: The Geographical Indication tag it bagged in 2009, hardly had any impact on the sale of Venkatagiri saris. The weavers were jubilant on receiving the certificate, thinking it would boost sales. However, their hopes were dashed soon and they blame lack of proper publicity for the rare distinction. Moreover the designs are being copied and produced by powerlooms in neighbouring Tamil Nadu. However none of them are ready to act legally for they think that customers are capable of distinguishing between a fabric from handloom or power loom.
“Venkatagiri has earned a distinct place in producing fine cotton saris, which are famous all over the world, with unique Jamdhani work. Our existence is because of old technique of weaving with excellent unparalleled craftsmanship. Nobody else can produce fascinating figurative work appearing on both sides of our fabrics and this is the reason for our products earning worldwide recognition. Jamdhani saris are famed, cherished possessions of women of coastal districts of AP,” claims Nakka Venkateswarlu, executive member of Venkatagiri Handloom Saris Apex Society.
According to Mr Venkateswarlu, weaving activity at Venkatagiri has seen a sea change in the last 10 years. The market was limited since middle-aged and aged women were the main buyers in the past.
To broaden their client base, weavers, who were confined to 5 to 10 designs in the past, added more than 400 designs to draw the younger women. This has paid off well. Young women are seen wearing Venkatagiri cotton saris during marriage functions and also at party gatherings in metropolises, Mr Venkateswarlu observed.
He said that there is no support from Handloom and Textiles department and underlined the need to separate them to pay special attention for handloom sector. He also stressed the need to supply silk yarn at subsidised prices to shield weavers from price volatility.
Dwelling at length on the popularity of Venkatagiri saris, president of Master Weavers Association, N. Venkata Ramanaiah said that their weavers are experts in producing classical zari cotton handloom sarees.
“It has got its own unique weaving excellence and one need not compare with any other technique whether it is hand woven or machine made. Even today one can specify and get a designer sari for a price and that will be made for only one person one time. In fact, weavers of Venkatagiri used to weave very few sarees for the Kings and in return got grains for a year,” Mr Venkata Ramanaiah said.