Bomkai’ is a customary sari which is created by making use of the 'Ikat' dyeing technique. It is traditionally manufactured in the Odisha village of ‘Bomkai’ (the eastern Indian state) and that is why the brand is popularly known as ‘Bomkai’ sarees. By tradition, ‘Bomkai’ sarees are produced by the ‘Bhulia’ caste.


It is believed that the term ‘Ikat’ is derived from ‘Mangikat’, which is an Indonesian expression that stands for ‘knotting a cluster of cords for the purpose of dyeing, prior to the process of weaving’.





According to a popular belief, residues of fabrics that were weaved using 'Ikat' dyeing method were discovered from the tombs of Pharaohs, who were the ancient Egyptian rulers. Another interesting matter to note is that during the initial period, ‘Bomkai Sarees’ (which is also termed as ‘Sonepur Sarees’) were produced only for the provincial royalty of Odisha and for the esteemed upper class and ‘Brahmins’ of the region. The art of ‘Bomkai’ creation was launched in ‘Sonepur’ also while Ramai Dev controlled the region. You can also see the sketches of the complex weaving patterns of ‘Bomkai’ in the ‘Khandagiri caves’ (Odisha).


The presence and charisma of this brand was ascertained only in the beginning period of 1980s and from thereon the brand was known as ‘Bomkai’. Though ‘silk’ & ‘cotton’ threads were used for the design creation in the initial days, of late, ‘zari’ too is made use of.



Bomkai technique:

BANDHA’ is the general term used in Odisha to describe the method of ‘Ikat’. The hand-weaving (‘warp & weft’) method is applied for the creation of ‘Bomkai’ sarees.


The weaving process starts only after coloring the threads, as far as the ‘Ikat’ system is concerned. The threads that are perpendicularly inserted into the ‘Handloom’ are the ‘Tana (Warp)’ and which are inserted parallel is the ‘Bana (Weft).’ During the process of weaving, the ‘Bana’ passes through the ‘Tana’. In other words, the firmly elongated threads (lengthways) form the ‘warp’ and the cords that are inserted through the ‘warp’ to create the desired designs are the ‘weft’. The ‘weft’ cords are commonly ‘resist-dyed’. These cords are rolled into a special device called the ‘shuttle’ that moves across the ‘warp’. However, the task is a bit intricate in the ‘double – ikat’ system; here, ‘weft and warp’ both are ‘resist-dyed’ and similar patterns are brought in on either side of the base cloth.


Jalaa’ (a very handy alternate method for the ‘Jacquard machine’) is made use for the creation of ‘Ikat’ design.





Recognizing ‘Bomkai’


The pastel-colored body, the bead form border, the ‘Ikat’ design, and the uneven temple designs that flow by the side of the border are the striking features of ‘Bomkai’ sarees.


The lively and contrasting color combination that is applied on the border is another attractive trait of this brand. Besides, the ‘pallu’ will have deep designs. The four primary colors that are used to decorate Lord Jagannath (Lord Jagannath Temple, Jagannath Puri - Odisha) are greatly used in this brand. Yet another significant attraction of ‘Bomkai’ sarees is that there will be ‘double colored’ borders, and dense colored (solo colored) middle part.


The uneven temple design with which the sari borders are decorated is another notable trait of this brand sari. Besides this pattern, common images such as ‘earthen pots’, ‘flower designs’, ‘diamond shapes’, ‘beads’ are also added into the sari border.


The weaving technique used to form ‘Bomkai’ designs is hand-weaving and ‘silver’ or ‘gold’ cords are used. The conventional tribal designs like ‘flowers’, ‘geometric designs’, ‘fish’, ‘lotus’, ‘tortoise’, and the ‘hourglass-shaped drum’ are made use of for creating the sari ‘pallu’.




Visit Sanskriti website: to gain detailed knowledge about ‘Bomkai’. You can very clearly see the weaving pattern and the close range images of the item.





Bomkai’ and ‘Patola’ - Dissimilarity

Ikat’ is the key weaving method used in the creation of both ‘Patola’ and ‘Bomkai’ sarees, and hence the process of discerning the two may be a bit perplexing at times! ‘Patolas’, in general will have animal designs such as ‘elephants’, ‘lions’, ‘peacocks’, ‘parrots’, etc.


Bomkai types:

Basically ‘Bomkai’ can be grouped into 5 different categories; ‘Sambalpuri’, ‘Sonepuri’, ‘Pasapali’, ‘Barapali’, and ‘Bapta’



This brand is produced in the ‘Sambalpur’ District (Odisha); the method of creation is conventional hand-weaving. In these sarees, customary designs such as Phool (flower), ‘‘Chakra (wheel) and Shankh (shell) will be integrated. Moreover, the efficacy of the time-honored weaving method of ‘tie and dye’ can be clearly seen in the complex designs of this brand.






This brand (purely conventional) ‘Bomkai’ saree is manufactured in the ‘Sonepur District (Odisha).





The name of this brand is derived from the game of ‘Pasa-palli’ (which is similar to the popular ‘Ludo’ game). In this sari, there will be small check designs all through the sari.





This brand sari is manufactured in the Barapali (Odisha) village region and is created using the conventional ‘Ikat’ dyeing technique. The meaning of 'Pali' is ‘rural community’. There will be the depiction of ‘Palli-chitra (pastoral life)’ on the saree.






This brand ‘Bomkai’ sari is manufactured by using a blend of ‘silk’ and ‘cotton’ threads and is made more attractive by using golden color cords (Zari).





Interesting Facts

  • The creation process of ‘Bomkai’ sari is a lengthy one; it may consume roughly 7 months to create one ‘Bomkai’ sari! 

  • Kathak dancers usually wear ‘Bomkai’ sarees.

  • Sonepuri Bomkai Saree’ was used during the marriage function of the famous Bollywood pair Abhishek Bachhan and Aishwarya Rai. 

  • The manual effort of the whole family members will be there in the creation of ‘Ikat’ sarees, and the creation period of one sari can extend to four or five weeks; basically the time required depends on the complex nature of the created design.


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