ART STORY The Ilkal saree hails from a district in Northern Karnataka called Bagalkot. The saree is woven on the handloom and features a unique medley of cotton and silk – the body of the saree and sometimes, the borders are in cotton while the pallus feature silk in contrast colours, especially red. The joining of cotton and silk in the saree, a highly skilled practice known as kundi requires a mastery over both materials. The juxtaposing of cotton and silk has an interesting background. While cotton grows locally in the region, silk rearing was encouraged in Karnataka in the eighteenth century Tipu Sultan, the ruler of Mysore. By the mid-nineteenth century, mulberry silk rearing and spinning grew into a full-scale cottage industry, giving local weavers a steady supply of silk, allowing them to build a distinct design language in cotton-silk.