authentic handloom crafts of India - bomkai

authentic handloom crafts of India - bomkai


Odisha is home to many classics one of which is Bomkai. Bomkai, meaning bandhakala in Odia language, employs ikat (binding) as well as detailed needlework on the pallus (one part of the saree worn over the shoulder), especially. Showcasing the adept skill of the artisan it is a magnificent innovation that took over the weaving industry. It has been granted the GI tag and is one of the pride of Odisha.

    Bomkai saree


The history of Bomkai is a surprising one. Ranging from the tombs of pharaohs in Egypt to the khandagiri caves of Odisha evidence of Bomkai can be found in the most dissimilar of places. Tracing its lineage almost back to 600BC Bomkai originated in a small picturesque town named Bomkai in Ganjam district, 156 Km from Bhubaneswar in Odisha. It was first introduced to the broader world during the rule of Ramai Dev in the city of ‘Sonepur’ which gives it its name ‘Sonepuri’. Bomkai was exclusively worn by the royalty, the aristocracy and the Brahmins of Ganjam in ancient times.


Both frame looms and fly shuttle pit looms are employed. To achieve a solid border look, referred to as a "Muhojorha saree" locally, three shuttle techniques are utilized. Dobby or Jacquard or Jala is used to weave the extra warp design in the border and the extra weft design in the body and pallu.


A Bomkai saree uses motifs that are quite uncommon when compared to the ubiquitous and most used designs of traditional Indian weaves. The motifs and designs in Bomkai are mostly inspired by nature and tribal art forms. The designs are composed of beautiful motifs including karela (Bitter gourd), the atasi flower, kanthiful (small flower), macchi (fly), padma (Lotus), rui rachha (carp fish), koinchha (tortoise), mayur (Peacock) and chadhei (bird) in geometrical forms.

    Kanthiful motif

The inclusion of fish as a motif, which is regarded as a symbol of prosperity and success, adds appeal to the saree. The borders or pallu make up a sizable portion of the finishing of Bomkai sarees. These sarees include border designs that are modelled after tribal artwork. Mitkta Panjia, Kumbha (a water plant), Rudraksha, and floral are a few examples. Another distinguishing feature is the irregular temple design that is used to embellish the edges.

    Tribal art                      Fish motif 



  • Pasapalli: The Pasapalli sarees get their name from the intricate and challenging check patterns of contrast colours that resemble a chess board.

    Pasapalli sarees

  • Bapta: Bapta saree is made up of cotton or silk mix. The individuality of the sarees are Baandha or Ikat.
  • Sonepuri: Another name of Bomkai is Sonepuri. It is famously called as Sonepuri since it is made in the village called Sonepur.

    Sonepuri sarees


Another appealing feature of Bomkai is the vibrant and striking colour combination. Bomkai weaves heavily include the four major colours used to decorate the Lord Jagannath temple. The presence of double-coloured borders that reflect a regal shine is yet another distinguishing element. Contrast colour combinations are used.

    Contrast colours used in Bomkai saree


Mulberry silk, tussar silk, and fine cotton yarns are currently utilised widely. Additionally, zari (gold or silver-coloured threads) are now also used by weavers to create Bomkai. Bomkai has been introduced in many kinds thus far.

    Cotton Bomkai saree



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