The Sambalpuri saree is made from fabric woven on a handloom, and is popular throughout India. Varieties of the Sambalpuri saree include Sonepuri, Pasapalli, Bomkai, Barpali and Bapta sarees, which have substantial demand. Most of them have been named after the places of their origin, and are popularly known as Pata. Paintings on Tussar sarees depicting Mathura Vijay, Raslila and Ayodhya Vijay owe their origin to 'Raghurajpurpatta paintings'.
Sambalpuri fabrics have their original style of craft known as Baandha. Traditionally, craftsmen created Baandhas with images of flora or fauna or with geometrical patterns. More recently, new types of Baandha depicting portrait, landscape and flower pots are being designed. Baandha fabric is created using a tie-dye technique. The yarns are tied according to the desired patterns to prevent absorption of dyes, and then dyed. The yarns or set of yarns so produced is called 'Baandha'. The unique feature of this form of designing is that the designs get reflected almost identically on both sides of the fabric. This versatile technique enables a craftsman to weave colourful designs, patterns and images into a fabric capable of inspiring a thought or convey a message.
Thus Baandha can be defined as ‘A length of systematically arranged yarn, dyed according to a preconceived design in such a manner so as to enable a weaver to portray the design when the yarn is converted to a fabric through the process of weaving’. It is believed that this art migrated to Western Odisha along with the Bhulia community who fled Northern India in the year 1192 AD after the fall of the ChouhanEmpire at the hands of the Mughals. Since then up to the year 1925 it flourished in Western Odisha in a limited number of designs and in vegetable colours and consisted mostly of sarees used by the womenfolk of the Kosal region. These sarees were known as 'Bhulia-Kapta'. The demand was limited, distress sale was common and the craftsmen lived in penury.
Sambalpuri sarees are famous for their unique designs and for their beautiful colours. Fish, conch shell and flower motifs are woven into the fabric and sometimes floral and animal motifs are also used to decorate the borders and pallu. Silk Sambalpuri sarees from Odisha are also in single and double Ikkat. They are also known as the Vichitrapurisarees.