Andhra's Own Muslin: Patnulu Khadi of Ponduru

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Published on: 28 October 2020

Samyuktha Gorrepati

Samyuktha is an independent textile designer and development professional interested particularly in the handloom and handicraft sector. Most recently, she has worked as Head Designer in Chitrika, an organisation in Hyderabad working to build sustainable weaver business enterprises, and has authored a book titled 'Learning the Heart Way'.

Allamsetti Lakshmi clutches a handful of cotton pods she bought from a farmer in the village and brings them out into the verandah. Within hours, her veranda has transformed into a mini spinning unit of sorts as the cotton is cleaned, ginned, carded and spun into fine 100-count yarn. She performs all the pre-spinning operations and the spinning entirely manually, using a variety of indigenous tools, even as she walks in and out doing her other household chores. All the yarns she has spun in the last one month will be handed over to a weaver in the neighbourhood to be woven into the precious Ponduru patnulu khadi fabric.

From fibre to fabric, the patnulu khadi, the finest of handspun fabrics, is entirely handcrafted in Ponduru and the nearby villages of Srikakulam district in Andhra Pradesh using locally grown native cotton.

This photoessay leads the viewers through the different stages and nuances of patnulu spinning from cotton fiber to yarn, and then from yarn into fabric while revealing other aspects of the artisans’ lives.