Many villages surrounding the districts Kota, Bundi and Baran in the state of Rajasthan are involved in the making of Kota Doria fabric. The highest number of producer communities is based in the village of Kaithun, located roughly 15 kilometres from Kota. Villages like Kotsuwan, Siswali, Mangrol and Sarnsan are also the hubs of Kota Doria weaving. Pit looms, which can be easily procured by the people of these villages, are put to use for weaving.
Woman with a fine Kota Doria veil
A large number of artisans belong to the Muslim Ansari community and are believed to have relocated to Kota from Mysore, due to the patronage they received from the royal families of Rajasthan. Initially, Kota Doria fabric was used only as headgear for royalties but with the passing of time, the use of this fabric for sarees increased as it became seen as auspicious during festivities. The Oswal community was the first one to utilise Kota Doria fabric for sarees.
An artisan working on a loom
Woman weaving a saree
The weaving of Kota Doria is a household activity in these villages – every family has at least one traditional pit loom for weaving. Though all members participate, the weaving process is handled by the women of the house, in contrast to other fine fabrics like Banarasi brocade. These communities are known for their quality products and high attention to detail.
Yarn dyed Kota Doria weaving
Weaving by these artisans is generally done on the basis of piece-work. A certain amount of work is commissioned for a few sarees, instead of time-bound deadlines. Working on the basis of contracts is far less common. The demand for these sarees has plummeted in the recent past, luring the younger generation of workers to look for more profitable job opportunities.
A craftsman showcasing Kota Doria weaves
The Indian Marwari community – belonging chiefly to Rajasthan – is the main consumer of this fabric and its products. Places like Jaipur, Bikaner, Kolkata, Jodhpur and Mumbai have a high demand for this fabric, since these areas have high Marwari populations.
Weft insertion during the weaving process
Images: The Hindu, Handeyemagazine, Kota Doria, Flickr, Textontextiles, Tourismguideindia