ANDHRA PRADESH ‘S ikat belt, where intricate tie-and-dye textiles are woven, borders Hyderabad. Pochampalli, the name by which most of the state’s ikat fabric is known, is the largest centre for this craft. The technique in its present form was first introduced in the 19th century in Chirala, in Guntur district, from where the fabric was exported to Africa.
Pochampalli’s main street is lined with busy workshops where the various stages of production take place. Ikat weavers first tie the yarn according to the pattern and then dye them in great vats. A special oil-based technique is used to restrict the dye to those parts of the yarn that need to be coloured. The dyed yarn is then dried in the sun and finally woven on large hand-operated looms, to produce a cloth called telia rumal. The state cooperative warehouses, as well as several shops, sell a wide range of beautiful silk saris and fabrics.
ENVIRONS: The neighbouring villages of Koyalgudena and Choutuppal produce mainly cotton ikat fabrics. Narayanpur, another major weaving centre, is about 20 kin (16 miles) further down the Vijaywada Highway.