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Telia Rumal Sarees

End-piece of a cotton Telia Rumal saree
The Telia Rumal is the precursor of Pochampally Ikat which is woven in what was earlier Andhra Pradesh (although, after the state was split, the main weaving centres have found themselves in the newly-created state of Telangana). Sized between 55 and 75 square cm, the Rumals or Chowkas featuring diamonds within squares were initially woven in 19th century Chirala (still in Andhra Pradesh) and used by fishermen and cowherds in their attire. By the 1930s, they were exported to the Middle East, Burma, and East Africa where they were used as headgear, and, soon after in the 1950s, their patterns were adopted in sarees at the suggestion of Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay who was the chairperson of the All India Handicrafts Board at the time.

A quarter of a century later, in the 1970s, a weaver named Gajam Govardhana from Puttapaka, Nalgonda, visited Chirala and learnt how to make the Telia Rumal. It was through him that the technique of weaving the Rumal spread in Nalgonda district which is now in Telangana.

The sarees made today tend to be woven in the 'traditional' colours of black, white, and red, in double ikat featuring distinctive geometric floral motifs enclosed in diamonds. Their borders tend to be stripes, often a single stripe, in a deep bright colour. Contemporary sarees also tend to experiment with colours and it is no longer startling to see Telia Rumal sarees in a wide variety of colours identifiable from a distance primarily by the designs.