India is a country full of rich wonders and as any educated traveler might guess, there are still plenty of mysteries to uncover at different corners of the country. One of these mysteries lies in the rural regions of Kotpad, a place in Odisha’s Koraput district that is very much untouched by the practices of the outside world. This region is inhabited by a community of people known as the Mirgan, who are known for their tribal and primordial lifestyles. The community produces an artistic textile for the neighboring tribal communities of “Bhatoda” and “Dharua” that deserves special mention for their colors that are created by natural, organic dyes.
Like the people who create them, the Kotpad handloom fabric is known for its unusual simplicity and elegance that reflect the tribal lifestyle and values. The rough-spun, nature sprung fabric is used to create sarees, dupattas, stoles and shawls that can be worn all around the year. The clothing items that are made by this fabric are adorned by motifs that reflect the culture and social practices of these people. The fabric is created by making use of indigenous raw materials that can be gathered from local markets. However, it is the coloring of these fabrics that get them the prime attention. The dyes are made completely from natural ingredients that are collected from aul tree root bark. The Kotpad fabric requires about 15 to 30 days for processing of color as well as for dyeing of the threads in different colors, such as black and maroon.
The rich quality of the natural fabric together with its beautiful coloring has made it immensely popular among both Indian as well as international buyers. Wearing clothes made of the Mirgan fabric is believed to bestow certain medical benefits as well. The ancestors of the Mirgan people believe that wearing clothes made of this fabric can offer protection from certain skin problems. As the fabric can keep a person cool during the summer months and warm during winter, it is believed that it can enhance the look of the wearer by preserving health. It is also the most popular product created by the Mirgan people, and while at one point of time they were mainly used by their rural neighbors, at present they can be bought and used by anyone who appreciates the uniqueness and special quality of this fabric.
Located within the verdant forest regions of Eastern Ghats, the areas that comprise the Koraput district include Phulbani, Nawrangpur and Rayagada regions. Many scholars have tried to date back the history of this region to 3rd century B.C., when it was occupied by a valiant group of people known as the Atvikas. In time, this region was ruled by many royal dynasties, until it officially came under the borders of modern Odisha state in 1936. Like any other tribal culture in the world, the Mirgan people developed their very own clandestine sense of culture and creativity by taking inspiration from the Mother Nature. The unique aspect of the Kotpad handloom fabric is that they are completely natural and non-chemical. The clothing items made from this fabric is a rage with people who have a fondness for ethnic fashion.
At present, there are many online stores all across India that offers Kotpad clothing items at attractive prices. These sites have played a major role in popularizing the Kotpad fabric across a broad range of modern users. While Kotpad started its journey of captivating the masses from early 1980s, it is only after the advent of online shopping that they have really taken off among shoppers around the world.