Sarees — A timeless fashion attire……………
Sarees, considered as one of the most elegant attire in the world is the identity of Indian woman. Abroad whenever someone sees a woman wearing a saree asks whether she is from India or not. Let’s take the example of Sridevi from the movie ‘English Vinglish’ while roaming in the streets of America something complimentated her of her beautiful saree and recognized her as an Indian Woman. A lady can wear inumerous western looking clothes but her elegance, charm and beauty gets enhanced when she wears a saree.
Like India’s diversified culture found here are innumerable kinds of sarees all over the country and each of the saree represents a different art form. Let’s start with the kinds of sarees found in the eastern part of the country. Embroidered Kantha work saris from West Bengal are extremely popular. Traditionally, simple running stitch kind of embroidery is done in contrasting colors to the color of the sari. Mulberry silk or Tussar fabrics are used. Baluchari saris from Bengal are 42” wide and five yards long. Typically bright colours with grand motifs which depict stories and folklore, these saris use silver zari. They are the most prominent variety of sari from the eastern part of India. Bomkai saris from Orissa come with beautiful thread work. These saris are made with coarse bright colored cottons. The vivid thread patterns on these saris are their trademark. Of late, Bomkai saris are also available in silk.
Jamdani saris from Bengal feature fine cotton with geometric shapes as motifs. These saris are available in various varieties such as Daccai Lamdani which has muslin smoothness, Tangail Lamdani which uses the finest cotton and Dhaniakhali Lamdani which has a tight weave and is characterized by stripes or chequered patterns. Muga silk saris from Assam have a natural shimmery golden sheen and do not need further dyeing. These bright colored saris have contrasting borders and motifs and are hand woven. The weaving method, along with the natural sheen of the fabric, gives the motifs a three dimensional effect.
Bengali Tant saris are handloom made and have muslin effect. The borders and anchal are embroidered with silk thread. The specialty of the sari is its lightness.
Besides these, there are several other kinds of saris from the east such as Murshidabad printed silk sari, Sambhalpuri sari and Pat saris.
Next let’s take a look at the sarees found in western part of the country that is mainly Gujrat and Rajasthan. The traditional sari of Gujarat is the brocade sari. These saris have an unusual pattern since the circular motifs are woven perpendicular to the weft direction. This gives the motifs a slightly raised appearance. Gujarati brocade saris are also called Meenakari saris because of the colors and design patterns. Asavali Gujarati brocade saris are the most beautiful and have highly intricate patterns. They are very expensive and unfortunately, almost extinct. Bandhani saris of Rajasthan are reputed for their tie and dye spotted, lined or wavy patterns. Flowing thin fabrics such as artificial silks, crepe, georgette, voile or muslin are used. Patola saris are handmade. They come from Patan region of Gujarat. Conventional handlooms are used for weaving the fabric and natural dyes extracted from vegetables are used for dyeing. Patola saris are some of the most expensive saris in India because the unique weaving process is extremely time consuming. The weaving technique is considered to be one of the most complex in the world. The warp and weft fibers are resist dyed together prior to weaving and the artisan has to make sure that these two threads are woven perfectly so that the prefixed pattern is not distorted. The western parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat are also popular for their Zardosi saris. Zardosi embroidery is made from gold and silver metallic thread and spring like wires of varying thicknesses. These are intricate saris with heavy work and look very grand.
Bandhani saris are very popular in major parts of Gujarat. Mumbai and Gujarat are also popular for polyester saris. Kota saris, also known as Kota Doria saris, are from Rajasthan. They are made from sheer transparent cotton material and the trademark of these saris is their very fine netted or chequered weave. They are prepared from white fiber and then dyed in different colors. Special kota saris come with a mix of silk and cotton weave. These saris have a slight sheen which makes them very attractive.
Though in the northern part of our country saree is not that a prominent wear, still there are some sarees those existence is taken notice of. Under this category comes the banaras silk saris from the holy city of Varanasi are famous for their weave and have been awarded GI status, which means that these saris are a part of Indian heritage and only saris made in six districts of Uttar Pradesh are considered authentic. These saris are expensive and the preferred choice of Indian brides. Banarasi saris are available in four varieties. While silk is the original Banarasi sari, these saris are also available in georgette, organza and shattir materials. Pure silk is called katan and the organza sari is called kora. Organza Banarasi saris have silk fibers mixed with organza fibers. Katans are very opulent and grand. Chikankari saris of Lucknow are very famous for their shadow work and simple thread embroidery patterns. These are traditionally cotton saris characterized by creeper motifs. Embroidery consists of 6 basic stitches and 36 other stitches. Authentic chikankari saris are embroidered from the reverse side, unlike conventional embroidery. Threads of different thicknesses are used for the work.
Now it’s time to take a quick look at the sarees found ic central India. Maheshwari saris are from Maheshwar district in Madhya Pradesh. Cotton and silk are used to make these saris. Typical designs are stripes and chequered. Plain saris are also extensively manufactured. Complimentary color combinations of Maheshwari saris are its trademark. The borders are usually striped. The specialty of this sari is its double sided border, which means that this sari does not have a reverse side. Madhya Pradesh is also very popular for Chanderi silk saris. These saris are hand woven and characterized by glossy transparency. Traditionally, borders of the sari are narrow. However, these days, medium and large border saris are also available. The texture of the sari is very crisp. These saris are light in weight and have an airy feel. Chanderi saris are also available in cotton fabrics. Bafta saris are a mix of cotton and silk fibers. Cotton is used for the weft and silk is used for the wrap. These saris feel luxurious and have a beautiful creamy luster. The anchals are subtly fringed and do not affect the simplicity of the sari. These saris come in natural color tones.
Waraseoni saris are of flannelly cotton fabric and originate in Madhya Pradesh. Six yards in length, these saris are simple, comfortable and much suited for everyday use. These saris are also very affordable.
The moment we say South Indian sarees we actually imagine South Indian silk sarees. But this is not the truth. South Indian sarees are not only silk sarees bt much more than that. Let’s have a quick look. Kanjeevaram saris from Tamil Nadu are heavy pure silk saris which are made with silk extracted from mulberry silk worms. The trademark of Kanjeevaram saris is the weave in which a single zari thread is used with three single strands of pure silk. These saris are very grand and heavy. Dharmavaram saris are similar to Kanjeevaram saris but are lighter. Mangalagiri cotton saris from Andhra Pradesh are characterized by tiny chequered patterns or lines all through the fabric and a solid lined gold border.
Venkatagiri cotton saris, also from Andhra Pradesh, are known for their extremely fine and soft cotton fabric. Traditional Venkatagiri saris are striped and have small motifs all along the length. These saris usually come in earth colors.
Pochampalli cotton and silk saris have a weave similar to the Patola saris. Designs are prefixed and fibers are dyed according to the design. The weaver has to take a lot of care so that the decided pattern is revealed after weaving. Gadwal cotton saris are some of the most famous. Cotton fibers are woven separately and then they are woven into pure zari borders. The borders contrast with the cotton part. Kerala kasavu saris are made from fine quality cotton and are usually white, cream or off white in color. These saris are not grand with intricate work, embroidery or borders. The sari runs in the same flow until the very end where a six inch border is provided at the anchal. Mysore silk saris are made from the softest of silks. The silk is butter soft and very fine. The special feature of Mysore silk is that its luster does not fade.
Besides these, Salem saris, Coimbatore saris and Madhurai saris from Tamilnadu and Ilkal saris from Karnataka are of excellent quality.
This article would be a never ending one if we try to include all the kinds of sarees found in India. So the most prominent ones still in existence and found easily are jotted down here. Few years back saree lost its charm in the higher strata of the society bt now the home coming of designers like Satya Paul and Sabyasachi Mukherjee saree has got a new value and face all together.
So women drape a saree and look beautiful and elegant like never before…..