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Ethnic Indian Sarees :: Ilkal Silk Sarees

Written by: Bindu Lakshmi Kankipati - Published: 07-Sep-2017

Decoding the traditional handloom of Ilkal

Remote corner in the state of south India is famous for its traditional handloom attire called Ilkal silk sarees and Ilkal cotton sarees, named after after the town Ilkal, in Bagalkot district of Karnataka state, these traditional handwoven sarees are GI protected craft of India. Ilkal is famous for red granite stone and traditional Ilkal sarees. Localites out here are very friendly and they speak Kannada(regional language of the state), one of the main source income of this place is weaving these handwoven evergreen classic sarees. If one happens to peep around in this place, almost all house are engaged in weaving these sarees, their is no discrimination done, both men and woven are engaged in weaving to make their livelihood. Major centres of weaving is from villages of Ilkal, Kolhar, Kamatgi and Nidagundi at the Bijapur district and many of them have their own loom at home.

Generally traditional Ilkal sarees does not have any Kasuti ornamentation done, from couples of years its a add on feature of newer version of sarees, these sarees are available in 6 yards, 8 yards, 9 yards. which has Kasuti folk embroidery which is practised in karnataka state, generally it takes around seven or more days to weave a saree based on the designs. The name Kasuti is derived from the word 'Kai' which means hand and 'Suti' means cotton, which expresses an activity that is done using cotton and hands.
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The main body of the saree
Generally, main body of the saree which carries small or heavy check patterns, rectangles, striped patterns, squares, plain sarees, the newer version Kasuti folk embroidery is been added.

The pallu(falling edge of the saree)
Also called as in kannada(regional language) seragu, the pallu is given special importance, as it is worn on the head. The pallu and the body are joined in a technique called as kondi. KONDI Technique is used to weave these sarees and they use three shuttles. Ilkal saree with colors such as red and orange combination is best known as Basanthi.

The striking Borders(annchu)
Borders are traditional yet handwoven, they carry such a grace for the saree, these traditional borders which measurers 2.5 inches to 4 inches, the predominant colors used are red and maroon, gone are the days whenonly borders used to be and more demand is for temple designs on top of the border, few types of borders are

  • Gomi dadi which is also known as Ilkal dadi
  • Jari dadi
  • Gadi dadi
  • Chikki kondi
  • Gayathri

Ilkal sarees are available in mediums such as:

  • Ilkal pure silk saree (Silk x Silk)
  • Ilkal pure cotton
  • Ilkal semi cotton silk(Cotton x Silk)
  • Ilkal viscose rayon (Art silk x Cotton)

Important Note:

  • Checks pattern locally known as 'Tirki'
  • Stripes which are thick are known as 'Jabra'

Length of the saree:
Traditional Ilkal sarees are available in

  • 6 yards ( 5.4 meter) approx
  • 8 yards ( 7.3 meter) approx
  • 9 yards ( 8.2 meter) approx respectively.

Paired with a perfect blouse(upper garment)
Blouse makes for a perfect pairing, Traditional handwoven Ilkal sarees sometimes it comes with blouse as a running fabric and some times one need to buy the blouse, normally the top five perfectly pairing blouses that can make your saree outstanding are Kalamkari fabrics, Mangalgiri cotton fabric, khadi fabrics, Khun fabrics from Maharashtra and ikkat fabrics as well, if anyone is interested with fusion than one can blend well is Khun fabrics with Kalamkari which makes best artpiece, and no additional embellishment is not needed, the saree blends well with these fabrics seamlessly and one can check out with classical version with modern elements makes a huge come back to the modern world.

Fabric care for Ilkal silk sarees
Do check out for specific care instructions on the garment once you purchase and follow the instructions carefully, it addition to it, here are certain quick checklist

  • Recommended only for dry clean
  • If washing at home, recommended only to use cold water to wash the fabric
  • Do not bleach or soak the fabric
  • Do not brush or lash a silk saree
  • Use good quality, mild detergent
  • Once wash cycle is done, dry the fabric in shade to prevent the color from fading
  • Never put naphthalene balls and other repellents in direct contact to these fabrics while storing
  • Do not wring or squeeze the fabric
  • Keep changing the folds of stored sarees once in a while to ensure that the fabric doesn’t tear from the creases
  • One can steam press and iron the fabric, in a medium-low heat
  • Use padded hangers to avoid wrinkling these sarees


* Click the image above to watch this video on Youtube ↗