The Sambalpuri saree is made from the fabric knitted on a handloom and it is admired throughout India. The texture of a fabric varies upon the wrap and weft yarns used for its production. The important raw materials used in the weaving of these saree are cotton. This art of weaving of dyeing of a fabric is practiced in India since ancient times.
It is said that saree weaving was such an important part of the life of the ancient times that many of its techniques gave the name to philosophical and religious thought. Evidence of weaving practiced in India are found in epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata that speak in length about the craft. It is believed that The Indian saree has been in existence for more than 5000 years that is mentioned in the Vedas. Some versions of the history of Indian clothing trace the sari back to the Indus valley civilization, which flourished in 2800-1800 BC. It was the basic wear which was used by the rural people of India.
Sambalpuri sarees are a major tribute to the traditional handlooms of Orissa. Unique in the making and exquisite in its designs, the Sambalpuri saree reflects an ancient handicraft called Baandha Kala. The yarns are tied according to the desired patterns to prevent absorption of dyes and then dyed. The yarns or set of yarns so produced is called ‘Baandha'. The unique feature of this form of designing is that the designs are reflected almost identically on both sides of the fabric. Once the fabric is dyed it can never be bleached into another color. This versatile technique enables a craftsman to weave colorful designs, patterns, and images into a fabric capable of inspiring a thought or conveying a message.
Today the Baandha fabric is popularly known for its geographical and cultural name Sambalpuri owing to the innovative efforts of Sri Radhashyam Meher. He was the one who in the year 1926 had the first handloom to weave textiles of ninety inches width and brought a radical change in the skills of the craftsmen and the quality of the products. Other master craftsmen who contributed to the development of Sambalpuri textiles were Padmashree Kailash Chandra Meher, Padmashree Kunja Bihari Meher, Padmashree Chatrubhuja Meher, and Padmashree Krutharth Acharya. Sambalpuri textiles today include delivering materials, dress materials, and silk sarees, cotton with offering varieties of color options and designs. Baandha craftsmen are also masters of the ‘extra warp' and ‘extra weft' style of designing which can be seen in almost all forms of Baandha textiles. Radhashyam Meher also produced Khadi textiles using the Baandha art.
There are many other varieties of sarees are made in this state and those are Sonepuri, Pasapali, Bomkai, Barpali, Bapta saris, which are in high demand. Most of the sarees are named after the place from where the work has begun and these are very popularly known as Pata sarees. Master craftsman Rajendhra Meher, who is from Gurupali, says that since childhood from age of 11 years he is involved in saree weaving work. As a child, he was very fascinated towards the weaving work. Due to his hard work and sincerity in the work today he has created a nice demand for the Sambalpuri sarees in the market. Initially when he started with the weaving work, he was getting payment of INR10 for one whole day. But now the labors who are working under his organization are earning minimum of INR.200 per Day.