Oil's well with the handkerchief

Jul 31, 2012, 07:46 IST | Surekha S

At an exhibition, titled Telia Rumal, designer Bina Rao showcases a special collection inspired by the traditional Telia Rumal design from Andhra Pradesh along with many other Ikat designs

The practice of Telia Rumal, (which literally means an oily handkerchief), made using the tie and dye technique or the double ikat technique, in Andhra Pradesh is almost extinct today. The practice, which was started in the late 18th century gave way to newer techniques that were easier and less tedious, resulting in it barely being seen for almost a decade now. With the aim to revive this as well as to introduce these designs to people, designer Bina Rao will showcase a new collection based on the theme of Telia Rumal. Along with incorporating traditional ikat prints in contemporary designs, Rao will also be showcasing traditional Telia Rumal designs in her exhibition, starting this Wednesday, at her design studio Creative Bee.

A woman working on a traditional weave

“Telia Rumal is a term derived from woven handkerchiefs in ikat techniques. These handkerchiefs were woven in villages in Andhra Pradesh and exported to Islamic nations, where it was used as a headgear. These rumals or handkerchiefs were woven in natural dyes and processed in oil. That was how the name came about,” explains designer Bina Rao. “The process was tedious; that’s why it became extinct in the last decade. There is just one weaver family in Pochampalli village in Andhra Pradesh, where this technique is still in practice,” she adds.

Cotton dupatta priced at Rs 1,050

At this exhibition she showcases sarees, dupattas, stoles and fabrics based on the Telia Rumal theme. “My objective is to revive old techniques and contemporarise them,” she says. Though she has not actually made the fabric with the oil processing method, she says she has adopted the character of the technique in her designs.

An original Telia Rumal design scarf 

“Original Telia Rumals were in geometric patterns and mainly in black, red and white. In this exhibition, I will be showcasing a few traditional Telia Rumal designs. I have also extended my collection to ikat patterns at large; you will come upon several beautiful ikat prints on display,” she shares. All her products have been handspun and hand-woven.


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