Category: TEXTILES – Traditional Tex-styles of The World


Embellishing and ornamenting one own self has been the most attractive and passionate activities practiced for centuries all over the world. With time the same logic and passion got transferred to fabric that was used to cover the body and we were introduced to many new forms of art or handicraft aiming for fabric decoration.

 

Yes the art of Embroidery it was.

Another way to look at its development long long ago is that when mankind was introduced to cloth; need to tailor, patch, mend and reinforce cloth fostered the development of sewing techniques and the decorative possibilities of sewing led to the art of embroidery.

Using a thread or yarn and a needle, raised surface effects are created on the flat woven fabric surface imparting it a distinctive appearance. Initially basic stitches viz. chain, buttonhole, blanket, running, satin, cross stitch were employed and with time other materials like mirrors, pearls, beads etc. were also incorporated to build unique creations. However, those basic stitches still form the fundamental techniques of hand embroidery in India today.

India boasts a range of traditional embroideries from different states embodying their regional, cultural and social influences. Read further to get more insight on traditional embroideries of India.

 

CHIKANKARI

Belongs to – Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh

 

Famous as shadow work, Chikankari embroidery is a very delicate and intricate work from the city of Lucknow. A skill more than 200 years old, the embroidery is famous for its timeless grace and gossamer delicacy. Also known as Chikan, the embroidery is traditionally done using a white untwisted cotton thread on colourless muslin popularly known as tanzeb (the muslim from Dacca).

This form of embroidery came to India from Persia with Noor Jehan, the queen of the Mughal Emperor Jehangir. It is also said that the word chikan is a derivative from the Persian word ‘chikaan‘ meaning drapery. The craft flourished under the benign nawabi influence and later with the British influence designs became more formal resulting in an export market in Europe and England.

Material

Originally, chikan embroidery was done with the untwisted white cotton thread on soft, white cotton fabric like muslin or cambric. It was sometimes done on net to produce a kind of lace. Today chikan work is not only done with coloured threads but on all kinds of fabrics like silk, crepe, georgette, organdie chiffon, and tassar.

Technique

In Chikankari, the design to be embroidered is printed on the fabric using wooden blocks dipped in fugitive colours, which are commonly made by mixing a glue and indigo with water. For extra fine designs, brass-blocks are used sometimes.

 

Motifs printed in indigo blue. Once the embroidery is finished the fabric is washed to wash off the blue.

Application of stitches in chikankari holds great importance and demands particular discipline. The embroidery has a repertoire of about 40 stitches which can be broadly divided into 3 heads flat, raised and embossed stitches and the open trellis-like jaali work.

 

Techinque of Chikankari embroidery

 

Chikankari flat stitches with their traditional names are:

1. Bukhia: Most common chikan stitch to get the effect of shadow work. Bukhia is very similar to the herringbone stitch done on backside and front side to give a shadow effect.

It is done in two ways

a)  From back side (ulta bakhia), the floats lie on the reverse of the fabric underneath the motif. The transparent muslin becomes opaque and provides a beautiful effect of light and shade.

b)  From front side (sidha bakhia), it is the satin stitch with criss-crossing of individual threads. The floats of thread lie on the surface of the fabric. This is used to fill the forms and there is no light or shade effect.

2. Taipchi: It is the running stitch worked on the right side of the fabric. It is occasionally done within parallel rows to fill petals and leaves. Sometimes taipchi is used to make the bel buti all over the fabric. This is the simplest chikan stitch and often serves as a basis for further embellishment. It resembles jamdani and is considered the cheapest and the quickest stitch.

Pechni: It is the variation build on Taipchi where the taipchi base is covered by entwining the thread over it in a regular manner thus forming a lever spring.

3.Gitti: A combination of buttonhole and long satin stitch, usually used to make a wheel-like motif with a tiny hole in the center.

4. Jangira: It is the chain stitch usually used as outlines in combination with a line of pechni or thick taipchi.

 

Chikankari knotted, embossed stitches with their traditional names are:

1. Murri: It is the diagonal satin stitches worked several times with a knot on a basic taipchi stitch to form a grain shape.

2. Phanda: It is a smaller shortened form of murri. The knots made are spherical and very small. It resembles millets, gives a raised effect and is used to fill petals and leaves.

3. Dhum patti: It is the leaf pattern made of cross-stitch.

4. Ghas patti: It is the grass leaves formed by V-shaped line of stitches worked in a graduated series on the right side of the fabric.

 

Besides there are two other important forms of embellishments:

1. Jali work: The jaalis or trellises that are created in chikankari are a unique speciality of this craft. It gives an effect of open mesh or net created by carefully pushing warps and wefts apart by needle without cutting or drawing of thread. The act thus make neat regular holes or jaalis on the fabric.

2. Khatawa: It is an appliqué work similar to bakhia, which produces a flat effect. It is more of a technique than a stitch.

Motifs

The source of most of the design motifs in chikankari is Mughal. Noor Jehan’s personal preferences and desire to replicate the Turkish architectural open-work designs is said to have that led to the introduction of jaalis in chikan embroidery. The designs in chikan are graded and used according to the stitches employed – murri ka buta and tepchi ka jaal – though terms like hathi (elephant) and kairi (mango) are also used to signify the shape of the motif. It is however the stitch employed that is the established nomenclature. Other common motifs include mostly paisley, flowers, foliages, creepers, fruits, birds like peacock and parrots.

 

Typical White on White Chikankari

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Tanchoi is an elaborate and comprehensive weaving technique practiced in parts of Northern India to create beautiful Tanchoi textiles. Originally, this art instigated in China and was brought to India by three brothers with the last name ‘choi.’ The technique therefore came to be known as ‘Tanchoi’, which literally means ‘three chois’ (tan – three, Choi – brothers). They introduced the art to the Indian weavers in Surat (Gujarat) and later the Varanasi weavers started making less expensive versions. Since then the amalgamation of Chinese technique with Indian style of weaving was created to form the Indianised version of Tanchoi sarees.

The tanchoi weavers initially wove yard age and sarees, which were mostly used by the Parsi community.  But today, Tanchoi has remarkably gained popularity throughout India.

 

Weaving Technique:

Tanchoi textiles are fabricated in vibrant colours and the weaving technique employs several silk yarns. Like Brocades, Tanchois are also constructed using an extra set of colorful weft silk yarn covering the satin ground thus creating unusually distinctive patterns. Tanchoi weaving is one of the technical and complex weaving techniques as it involves one or two warp and two to five weft colours often in the same shed.

A densely patterned, heavy fabric is thus created without any floats on the reverse. Sometimes, the ‘unused’ threads are woven into the ‘foundation’ at the back. As per the tradition of creating these sarees, the weavers create the face of the fabric with a satin weave ground (warp threads) with small patterns made by the weft threads repeated over the entire surface. Based on this fact, traditionally Tanchoi textiles are Amru brocades that originated in China, but in the 1940s and 1950s, Banaras took over the market and began to incorporate zari.

 

Designs Incorporated:

In Tanchoi sarees the designs are always floral with interspersing of birds. Figures of flying birds, paired cocks amidst floral sprays are worked all over the body surrounded by flowers and baskets containing flowers. Sometimes the pallu is done more solidly with peacocks, baskets or bunches of flowers or hunting scenes. Tanchoi silk sarees are also ornamented in dazzling floral, geometrical and paisley designs. Most of the times the designs are of Chinese origin but weavers also integrate Indian motifs to create unique pieces of art.

 

The saree ground is usually bright coloured in blue, purple, green or red with areas patterned in tabby weave. The weavers also use tone-on-tone colors as well as multiple color combinations in jacquard weaving.

Tanchoi sarees from the state of Gujarat, Surat:

 

Tanchoi from Gujarat creates an extra weft layer to produce the effect of embossing on silk. There are also combinations of brocaded gold butis and borders in a background of self patterned Tanchoi. Some Tanchoi sarees have a rich gold border and two gold bands on the pallu. The more exclusive ones have gold checks with lotus roundels all over which are known as butis.

Figures of birds, trees and flowers are commonly used in these sarees. Sometimes, the pallu is richly decorated with large figures of peacocks, flower baskets and hunting scenes.

Tanchoi from Uttar Pradesh,Varanasi:

 

Like the banarasi sarees, Tanchoi sarees are also produced by Varanasi weavers but are not constructed as heavy like Banarasi sarees. They are meant to suit and be worn on all types of occasions.

In Varanasi, Tanchoi is produced in zari decorated all over using different motifs and designs and not just Moghul motifs.

Another interpretation of the term here is ‘tan-chhai’, meaning evoking a pattern which covers the field or the body.

 

 

The weavers made flat woven rugs – called Kilms – before they discovered the art of knotting. Unlike knotted pieces or carpets, the kilms– what is called the slit-tapestry technique – are quicker and easier to produce and light in weight for easy transportation.

Early 20th Century Senneh rug-wool on silk-having multicolored silk warps arranged in chromatic bands.

They are weaved double-faced by weaving different coloured weft threads in and out of warp. This results in creation of small holes in the rugs where blocks of different colours meet. These holes were almost invisible in well-produced pieces. Their lack of piles made them less warm as compared to knotted rugs, hence, the kilms were often used as wall hangings and bed covers, cushion backs and handbags and not as floor coverings.  During 16th and 17th centuries, in Safavid Persia, some of the wonderful silk kilms were woven in the workshops in Kashan and Esfahan, which produced pile rugs and sophisticated Senneh wool kilms.

Early 20th Century rug-wool on cotton-renowned for its delicate drawing and brilliant contrast of colors.

Another well –known rug type is the sumakh, a form of brocading; these are associated primarily with Caucasian village weavers. Like kilms, sumakh also has no pile but they are woven more tightly and are tougher. A basic network of warps and wefts are used to produce them along with additional coloured weft threads, which are woven into this framework in shorthands to create patterns. The ends are left trailing on the reverse piece. As a result, the sumakhs are not reversible in the way kilms are, since the back is a shaggy mass of wool creating an insulating layer that make then considerably warmer.

The Beginning

All traditional textiles have had their beginning somewhere long before ago and it is real interesting to start with knowing the birth of that textile and then coming along the line.

About Carpets, academics have argued long over precisely where and when the first carpet/floor covering was made and the pendulum of decision swings between early Egyptians or Chinese or the Mayas. It has also been said that these people had most probably began to structure carpets at about the same time. Though, they had no contacts with each other, they were driven by the same need to protect themselves from the weather. At this stage carpets were purely functional items and unlikely to have had any artistic pretensions.

The Lion, Gabbeh, Wool on Wool, 20th Century: A charming example of famous group of Gabbehs called 'lion rugs' from south-west Persia

The earliest complete surviving carpet dates back around 500 BC, piled in wool on a wool and camel hair foundation that was part of the funerary appurtenances of the Scythian prince. It is now called the Pazyryk. Although, some fragments were also excavated from the Tomb of Ka in Egypt, which are believed to date from about 1,500 BC; some 1,000 years before Pazyryk.

The Medallion Isleimi, Esfahan, Wool on Silk, 20th Century: The rug exhibits the design executed by Mamouri, the most highlighted master weaver of late Pahlavi period (1925-1979)

The history of carpets underwent many ups and downs from 5th to 15th century AD. There are a variety of carpets and fragments, both piled and flat woven that conveys the quaint anecdote. Between 6th and 9th centuries, the carpets are associated to Coptic Christian culture of Egypt and Nubia. The earliest Turkish rugs are dated between 12th and 14th centuries and so many Spanish rugs dates from 14th and early 15th centuries. The carpet weaving industry could not stabilize untill 17th century, when the advent of Islam gave a new perspective to the carpets and fresh beginning to the industry. From this time onwards, the history of Islam became the history of carpets in many ways.

Medallion gol farangi, Karabagh, Wool on Wool, late 19th Century: The charming rug with a central quatrefoil medallion and gol farangi pattern of roses.

A gleaming period of Islamic art began in with the rise of Seljuks, Turkic community from central Asia. The art began to flourish under court patronage and consequently existing geometric patterns were gradually replaced by more refined floral patterns.

The Knotting Process

The Persion Knot 'Senneh'

Persian and Turkish are two famous knots that designate the entire carpet industry. However, the knot type does not bear any relation with the quality or value of the carpet but yes it does provides the clue about the origin of the particular carpet.

The Turkish Knot 'Ghiordes'

The Turkish (or Ghiordes) knot is made by laying a strand over two warp threads, passing the ends around the outside of the two warps and then pulling them back up through the middle of the two. Whereas, the Persian (or Senneh) knot is worked by passing on end of the strand around a single warp thread, then over and under the adjacent thread.

The knots are weaved either using fingers or a hooked knife, called a tikh, to pull the ends of the yarn (cotton or wool) through the warp threads. After the knot has been tied, the yarn is trimmed using the blade of the knife. After completing the single row of knots, the weaver vigorously beats it downwards with a daftun, a comb-like tool, to create a firm fabric. The knots are held in place with one or two weft threads, woven in and out, followed by another row of knots. This is how a true oriental rug is woven by hand and progressed slowly to the finish line. The patterns are decided by the weaver who weaves from his memory or by using a painted diagram or cartoon. Cartoons are professionally produced patterns that specify the design and the colours and shades to be included.

Once it is finished, it is cut from the loom and the trailing warp threads at either end of the carpet form the tassels. Later it is washed of the gathered grime and sun dried. Afterward, the master shearer shaves the carpet pile to give it an incredible finish and smoothness.

 

Sari – a common form of clothing for women across south Asia, draped around the body in different styles to form a garment. It is a seamless rectangular piece of fabric measuring between four to nine meters decorated with varying pattern, colour, design, and richness. The etymology (origin) of the word sari is from the Sanskrit word sati, which means strip of cloth. This evolved into the Prakrit sadi and was later anglicised into sari.

The elegant traditional costume for Indian women

This unstitched cloth is commonly worn tucked at waist into and over a petticoat (antariya of historic Indian costumes), pleated and wrapped around the legs to make a long skirt and then thrown over the shoulder covering the upper body wearing a blouse (uttariya). This style of draping sari is called nivi, originally worn in Andhra Pradesh, India. Besides nivi various other draping styles also exists in India resulting from the regional influences namely Bengali, Gujarati, Maharashtrian, Dravidian, Gond, etc.

Usage of diverse colour, motif, pattern and weave over the untailored length of a sari make it a representation of rich regional traditions. The Sari is usually divided into three parts:

  • An end-piece or pallu/pallav
  • A field or jamin
  • Border or kinara

The end-piece is the loose end of the sari covering the bosom and thrown over the shoulder.  It is usually the most exposed and hence usually the most embellished part of the sari. The field of a sari may be embellished with prints, embroidery, etc or left plain as per design may be. The borders of a sari run along the entire length giving it an extraordinary appeal.

Decoration of the sari with distinct weave, motif and fabric as a result of regional influences has given us a wide variety to show interest in.

 

SARIS OF NORTH INDIA

1. Banarasi Saris:

These fine gold and silver brocades from India are woven in the city of Banaras (Varanasi). Fine heavy gauge silk yarns are woven intricately as warp and weft along with gold and silver threads (zari) to create elaborate brocade designs. In detail, the weft thread passes over and under the warp thread weaving the silk base of the sari where in the special gold and silver threads are transfixed in between by skipping the passage of the regular weft over a certain number of warp threads as per the design.

Purple silk Banarasi Sari with gold and silver brocade

 

Beauty of Banarasi Brocade

Most Banarasi saris reflect ancient Mughal influence which is seen in the motifs used like floral and foliate motifs (kalga and bel), a string of upright leaves called jhallar usually weaved on the inner and outer edge. Other motifs used are animals and figures with small details, scenes from village, fairs, designs inspired from architecture of temple and mosque, etc. The edge of the sari border is a characteristic of Banarasi Saris.

 

Powerloom from Banaras weaving gold and silver brocades from India

There are a variety of Banarasi saris available namely zari/amru brocades, tanchoi brocades, amni brocades, tissue brocades, jamavar, etc. Today Banarasi saris are available in pure silk (katan), organza (kora) with silk and zari, georgette and shattir.

Belongs to – Banaras/Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh

 

2. Kota Saris:

One of the famous finely woven textiles from India popularly known as Kota Doria Saris or Masuria Malmal. Mysore was earlier known as ‘Masuria’, the place where the weaving of this particular cloth originated. Between 17th and 18th centuries the weavers from Mysore were brought to Kota who later settled here and grew in number. This is how Kota doria got its name ‘Masuria Malmal’.

Kota Doria Sari - Close capture of the chequered effect created by 'khats'

Kota sari or Kota Doria fabricates strong cotton or cotton-silk yarns to weave out this super transparent, light textured and weightless sari favourable for summer season. The weaving of yarns creates a graph like geometric pattern called ‘khats’ (a square formed between the different thicknesses of fibers) crafting a chequered effect and giving it a unique gossamer finish.

Super transparent and weightless Kota Doria - good for summer wear

The standard Kota doria yardage is woven in white and later dyed in different colours. For some designs pre dyed cotton and silk yarns are also used for weaving. Some of the kota dories also have a narrow border edged with Zari.

Weaving is done mostly in pit looms using throw shuttle technique - Kota Doria Sari

Belongs to – Kota City, Rajasthan

Not to miss:

3. Chikankari Saris:

The most elegant and graceful hand embroidered sari from Lucknow, UP. The art came to India from Persia with Noor Jehan, the queen of the Mughal Emperor Jehangir and was patronized by the nawabs for many years. Origin of the term Chikankari has different explanations. As per one version, the word Chikankari has been derived from a Persian word Chakin or Chakeen, which means creating delicate patterns on a fabric. According to others, it may be a distorted version of Chikeen or Siquin, a coin valuing Rs 4 for which the work was sold. Yet another explanation ascribes the term to the East Bengal language, in which Chikan meant fine.

 

Graceful Chikan design motif - Ghaspatti-ka-phool

Chikankari embroidery involves about 40 different stitches, with 6 basic ones on which the others are built. Each stitch has an individual name, involves a specific number of threads and has a specific use; it is never used in another part of the design. Each stitch is the representation of a particular purpose. Rahet, for instance, is a stem stitch worked with six threads producing a solid line of backstitch on the front of the fabric, and is used only as an outlining stitch. Finely detailed, dense floral patterns with knots, pulled network and other textural elements are characteristic of this work.

 

 

The delicate Jaali work created on the base fabric with the thread

The famous 'kairi' motif created with cross-stich on cotton base

 

The design motifs in Chikankari are predominantly influenced by Mughal art. The bel or creeper is the most commonly used design; individual motifs or butis, animals and flowers are also made including fish (mahi), hathi (elephant) and kairi (mango), dhaniya patti (corriander leaf), ghas patti (grass leaves V-shaped line of stitches worked in a graduated series); murri (grain motif – diagonal stitches are worked several times on a basic stitch to form a grain shape) and many more. Noor Jehan’s personal preferences and desire to replicate the Turkish architectural open-work designs is said to have that led to the introduction of jaalis in chikan embroidery. The designs in chikan are graded and used according to the stitches employed.

Belongs to – Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh

SARIS OF SOUTH INDIA

South Indian saris traditionally feature a contrasting wide border against the simple plaid or striped pattern field.

1. Gadwal Saris:

These sari features a fine cotton field which is weaved separately and later interlocked with borders and pallu made out of pure silk. This art of back-breaking or interlock weft technique is known as kupadam or Tippatiamu and hence the gadwal saris are locally called as Kupadam or Kumbbam Saris.

 

'Kupadam' - cotton field interlocked with pure silk zari border and pallu

'Kupadam' - Look Magnified

The sari is also said to have an influence of Banarasi weaving. The brocaded designs woven into the Gadwal saris represent south Indian cultural patterns. The motifs of the murrugan (peacock) and the rudraksh rule as the favorite along with the temple motif (Kutabham or Kotakomma). Other variations include mango design buttis all over body enriched by a dark contrast colour pallu having intricate geometric pattern zari design or self stripes design in body with zari buttis all over the sari field. Yellow, parrot-green, pink and beige are the mostly used colours.

'Kupadam' featuring murrugan (peacock) motif on sari borders

Belongs to – Andhra Pradesh

 

 

2. Pochampally Ikat Saris:

Named after a small town Pochampally near Hyderabad, AP, the sari has something unique about it. The sections of weft and the warp yarns are tied first and then resist dyed to achieve the pre-fixed design pattern and then interlaced to get the wonderful Pochampally Ikat saris. The technique of ikat weaving, which requires true precision and skill, is believed to be brought in the town of Pochampally from Chirala where it is locally called as chit-ku. Besides Pochampalli, Puttapaka and Chautuppal villages are the chief production sites for these saris in AP.

 

Pochampally Sari

 

Ikats can be Single Ikats where only the warp is tie-dyed and interweaved with weft (single coloured or uncoloured) or Double Ikats where both warp and weft are tie-dyed and positioned in such a way that both warp and weft reinforce each other at the resist dyed place to achieve the sari design.

 

Marking of design on yarns on a tie-dye frame with charcoal pen

 

The earlier pochampally saris have their borders embellished with supplementary-warp patterns and the end-piece of the saris consisted of a series of bands of different widths descending in size embellished only with weft dyed yarns. The modern pochampallys have great influence of the Patola saris from Gujarat so much so that the imitations of patola/patolu saris are also been made. The characteristic patolu motifs like elephants (enuga), parrots (ciluka), dancing girls (annu) and flowers (poovu) are often interspersed within the geometric grid of the rumal-style field. Other imitation patola have purely geometric forms within the field, something not seen in the traditional Gujarati versions. Most of these imitation patola saris are also embellished with Ikat borders and end-pieces. The designs of the imitation saris are usually less complex than the multiple bands found in the originals.

 

'Enuga' and 'Ciluka' motifs on Pochampally Pallu

These saris are woven in silk, cotton and silk-cotton mixes of bright colours. Pochampally ikats can be differentiated from their cousins in Orissa by their feel. Pochampalli cloth is smoother than the flannelly Orissa cloth and not quite as heavy.

Belongs to – Andhra Pradesh

Not to miss:

 

 

 

In the video  a weaver is shown weaving a Ikat design sari in his loom and he is showing you the skills required to weave a particular design. He will show you how each thread is put into proper place to create the final design. It may be noted that each inch of the weave contains more than 100 threads.

3. Venkatagiri Saris:

These are the superfine pure cotton saris enriched with motifs in gold thread all over the sari field woven in Jamdani technique. The sari border is embellished with pure silver zari or brocade designs. The motifs weaved are stylized parrots, asharfis (gold coins) and stylized leaf-forms woven half in gold and half in cotton threads. Said to be ideal for summer wear, the Venkatagiri saris are mainly in off-white colour and decorated with dull golden motifs.

 

Venkatagiri Sari

Belongs to – Nellor District, Andhra Pradesh

 

 

4. Dharmavaram Saris:

The Dharmavaram silk saris are similar to Kanjeevaram saris of Tamil Nadu. They carry exclusively designed pallus in zari brocade and commonly broad borders having brocades gold patterns or butta designs. The sari is woven in two colours with bright but sublime field and without much contrast. The borders of these saris are commonly broad having brocaded gold patterns. These saris are also woven with tussar silk.

 

Detailed View - Dharmavaram Sari

Belongs to – Andhra Pradesh

 

5. Mangalagiri Saris:

These cotton saris are known for featuring micro checks or stripes on the field with a dense zari border giving the sari a beautiful drape. The pallu is mono-striped adorned with solid lines of lustrous zari in typical tribal style. The sari is woven super finely in vibrant colours giving a crisp finish.

 

Mangalagiri Sari

Belongs to – Guntur District, Andhra Pradesh

 

 

6. Narayanpet Saris:

These saris are available in cotton or cotton-silk mix and are woven in dark earthy colours. They are characterised by a rich pallu with a unique pattern of alternating red and white bands. The border is usually a flat expanse of deep maroon red or chocolate red thinly separated by white or coloured lines. These saris are very light in weight and sometimes the borders are also ornamented with small zari designs.

 

Narayanpet Saris - Pallu with altering red and white bands

Narayanpet Saris - Border Ornamented with small zari designs

Belongs to – Narayanpet, Andhra Pradesh

 

7. Guntur Saris:

Guntur saris feature narrow fine thread-work borders with pallus ranging from simple stripes to sparse butties. The fields are plain or check with or without butties. These are the perfect dance saris as they are stable and less transparent than many South Indian cotton saris. Their timeless allure is comfortable for everyday wearing. Bandarlanka and Upadda in AP also produce similar type of saris.

 

Guntur Sari with thread work border

Belongs to – Andhra Pradesh

 

8. Kanjivaram Saris:

The sari that gives the royal look and rich feel, the Kanjivaram sari, got its name from a small temple town Kanchipuram where it originated. Kanjivaram saris are noted for their special weaving technique where three single silk threads are used along with the single zari thread. Weaved out of heavy Kanjeevaram silk variety, these saris are known for their luxuriously woven end-pieces using thick zari threads. In an original Kanchipuram sari, the sari field and the end-piece (pallu) are woven separately and then interlocked together.

 

Luxuriously woven pallu of Kanjivaram sari

 

 

Intricate Zari border of royal Kanjivaram sari

The motifs are drawn from the nature and forms of temple architecture like peacock, parrot, temple designs, scenes from Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagwad Gita. Few of the best known patterns in Kanchipuram saris are Mayilkann (peacock eye), Kuyilkann (nightingale eye), Rudraksham (Rudraksha beads) and Gopuram (temples). The Kanjivaram silk saris are woven from pure mulberry silk. They are of enviable texture, lustre and durability and finish.

Belongs to – Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu

 

9. Kornad Saris:

These are the famous silk temple saris, one of the coveted saris from south India. Kornad saris are also called temple saris because of their rekhu motif, a continuous tooth or serrated pattern on the borders that protrudes into the field. These temple saris are commonly used as offerings to deities and are somewhat smaller in length than conventional saris. Kornad saris are characterized by wide borders and motifs such as elephants and peacocks symbolising water, fertility and fecundity. These saris are available in earth shades of browns, grey and off-white colours as well as in bright colours.

Belongs to – Tamil Nadu

 

 

10. Chettinad Saris:

These silk saris originated from a small town in south of Tamil Nadu called Chatinad. Chettinad saris are admired for creating an illusion with the extensive use of colour and pattern with bold checks, stripes and contrasting tints. The traditional Chettinad saris are found in mustard, brick red and black colours and other vibrant hues using cotton and silk as fabrics.

Chettinad Sari

Belongs to – Tamil Nadu

 

 

11. Madurai Saris:

The Madurai saris are woven out of very shiny, highly mercerized cotton with glistening silk borders, which used to be made of silk, but are now mostly polyester or shiny cotton. Madurai saris are airy and lightweight, perfect for the very hot climate.

 

Glistening silk borders of Madurai Sari

Madurai also produces very beautiful block printed Madurai saris called Sungari. They are usually printed on fine cotton cloth and feature small printing on the field in simple one or two colour motifs. They are affordable and durable for every day wear.

These Madurai and Sungari saris also features brilliant tie-and-dye work and block prints and are also available with zari border.

Belongs to – Madurai, Tamil Nadu

 

 

12. Coimbatore Saris:

Coimbatore cotton saris often feature elaborate cotton brocaded borders and pallus. This fine and airy cotton sari have plain fields and very understated pallu ornamented often with fine stripes. The high end version of these saris feature thread and zari work framed by intricate colourful thread-work borders.

 

Coimbatore Saris feature brocaded borders in cotton

 

 

Beautiful brocaded border of Coimbatore sari

 

Elaborate brocaded pallu - Coimbatore sari

Belongs to – Tamil Nadu

 

 

13. Balarampuram Mundu-Veshti Saris:

These saris are well the traditional two piece sari of Kerala woven from a super fine variety of cotton. They are woven from unbleached, un-dyed natural cotton that compliments the tropical climate of Kerala. The sari is usually a cream stretch of cloth with Kasavu (meaning exquisite embroidery work).

 

Balarampuram Sari - cream stretch of cloth with 'Kasavu'

The traditional design of a Kerala sari had a 1 inch to 6-7 inch pallu while the body remained plain. But now the pallu goes up to one metre and the border and pallu is decorated with common designs of animals such as peacock and flowers. The sari is now available in checks, stripes and a wide variety of designs as well as in cotton mixed with silk. The weavers here use a primitive type of throw-shuttle pit looms to weave the sari.

Belongs to – Trivandrum, Kerela

 

 

14. Mysore Silk Saris:

The sari, as the name suggests, is weaved out of the purest Mysore silk and is characterised for it quality, butter-soft feel and permanence of lustre. The beauty of these saris is largely a result of intricate zari work done on the border and pallu. Out of all the Mysore silks, Mysore crepe silk sari is the most sought after.

 

With butter soft feel - Mysore silk sari

Lately many makeover steps have been attempted to make this coveted silk sari even more admired by infusing kasuti embroidery and bandhini designs, or adding on richness in the woven pallus. A wide palette of exciting vibrant colours like lilac, ecru, coffee-brown and elephant-grey have also been introduced.

Belongs to – Karnataka

 

 

15. Ilkal Saris:

Ilkal saris are the famous 9 yard saris which are characterized by use of an embroidery form called Kasuti all over. The embroidery is speciality of Karnataka and is highly intricate. It is done in such a way that no thread knots appear on back of the fabric and the front and back look alike. The designs used in Kasuti reflect traditional patters like palanquins, elephants and lotuses which are embroidered all over the field and the pallu carries designs of temple towers.

 

Red pallu with white patterns, distinguishing feature of Ilkal sari

The pallu of the sari is red in colour with white patterns which is a distinguishing feature. The end region of the pallu is made up of patterns of different shapes like hanige (comb), koti kammli (fort ramparts), toputenne (jowar) and rampa (mountain range). The border of the sari is very broad (4 to 6 inches) and red or maroon in colour and is made of different designs with ochre patterns. The sari is either made of cotton, or a mixture of cotton and silk or in pure silk. The colors traditionally used are pomegranate red, brilliant peacock blue and parrot green. The saris that are made for bridal wear are made of a particular colour called Giri Kumukum which is associated with the sindhoor.

Belongs to – Ilkal, Karnataka

SARIS OF EAST INDIA

1. Baluchari Saris:

Also called the silks of Bengal, Baluchari saris are product of exquisite design and fabulous weaving technique, produced in the town of Baluchar in Murshidabad district of West Bengal. The field of the sari is embellished with small butis whereas the borders are generally wide designed with repeat motifs from the pallu or beautiful floral designs. The end-piece of the sari is the main attraction as it manifests narrative folktales viz. woman riding a horse, pleasure boat with two lovebirds on top, traditional muslim court scenes, women smoking hookah, mythical scenes from the legendary Ramayana and Mahabharata or sculptures made on historical temples.

 

Mythical Scenes from Mahabharata - Pallu Baluchari Sari

Sometimes the sari has large flowing kalka motifs in the centre surrounded by narrow ornamental borders. These are framed by a series of figural motifs worked in rows. The motifs are entirely in silver zari against dark coloured backgrounds of red, yellow, green, purple, chocolate, cream, white and blue colour. The Baluchari saris are often reckoned with the patterning of sun, moon, stars, mythical scenes and motifs of natural objects with repeating pictorial themes in the border of the sari.

Belongs to – Baluchar, West Bengal

2. Bomkai Saris:

 

Notice the Pattern 'mitkta panji' on the Sari Border

The traditional Oriya Bomkai saris feature threadwork ornament borders and pallu. They were originally woven in heavy, often coarse, low-count cotton and were always dyed in bright colours, usually with black, red or white grounds. The patterns created on Bomkai saris have names such as rukha (pestle, stick), dombaru (small hourglass-shaped drum), kanthi phoola (small flower), karela (bitter gourd), peacock and fish (symbolizes prosperity and good health). The supplementary bands in the pallu are not woven in progressive order from large to small, or vice versa, but are woven according to the choice of the weaver. Yet despite all the work in the end-piece, it is the supplementary-warp patterns of the borders that give these saris their names. A broad band of supplementary-warp pattern called the mitkta panji forming a latticework of small diamond shapes is the characteristic design feature found in these saris.

Nowadays, the saris are woven in both cotton and silk with brilliantly created angular discontinuous supplementary-weft patterns woven in the end-piece in contrasting colours.

Belongs to – Southern Orissa

3. Jamdani Saris:

Jamdani refers to an ancient fine cotton fabric of Bengali origin called muslin woven with floral or geometric designs. Traditionally woven around Dhaka and created on the loom brocade, Jamdani is fabulously rich in motifs. Jamdani uniquely features geometric design patterns along with plant and floral designs which are said to originate in Persian and Mughal fusion thousands of years ago. According to the design patterns, Jamdanis have been named differently as panna hajar, dubli lala, butidar (with small flowers spread all over the sari field), tersa (small flowers arranged in reclined position), jalar naksha (creeper leaves covering the entire sari field), fulwar (flowers arranged in rows covering the entire sari field), duria (spot design all over the field), charkona, belwari (with colorful golden borders used to be made during the Mughal period, especially for the women of the inner court), etc.

Present-day Jamdani saris have motifs of rose, Jasmine, lotus, bunches of bananas, ginger and sago on their field. There can also be designs with peacocks and leaves of creepers.

The fineness and quality of Jamdani sari depends usually on the art of making yarns. For quality Jamdani they used yarn of 200 to 250 counts. Jamdani designs are made while the fabric is still on the loom. Coarse yarns are used for designs to make the motifs rise above the fabric.

Various types of Jamdani Saris are:

a)      Daccai Jamdani

Daccai Jamdani

These saris are very fine textured just resembling muslin. The workmanship employed to these saris is very elaborate where the single warp is usually ornamented with two extra weft followed by ground weft. They have multicolored linear or floral motifs all over the body and border and have an exquisitely designed elaborate pallu. The mango motif signifying fertility, growth, and marital bliss is a very popular design in Daccai Jamdani saris. They are woven painstakingly by hand on the old fashioned Jala loom, and many take even up to one year to weave a single sari. It feels supple to the touch and drapes gently to reveal the contours of the wearer.

b)      Tangail Jamdani

These saris feature highly stylized jamdani motifs on tangail fabrics (fine textured fabric with 100s count). The traditional tangail borders had a paddo (lotus pattern), pradeep (lamp pattern) apart from the popular aansh paar which was common to Shantipur. From the use of a single colour on the border, they began to use 2 to 3 colours to give it a meenakari effect.

c)      Shantipur Jamdani

They characterize powder fine texture of the sari and are much similar to tangail jamdnais.

d)      Dhaniakhali Jamdani

These jamdanis have tighter weave as compared to tangail and shantipur jamdanis. Dhaniakhali Jamdani saris are known for their stripes and checks and are woven in bold colours with contrasting borders.

Belongs to – West Bengal

4. Muga Saris:

 

These are the most durable silk saris from Assam woven out of Muga silk variety available only in Assam. Muga silk sari is known for its natural shimmering golden colour which requires no dyes. The sari field and borders are embellished with traditional motifs and butis like symbols of human figure, creepers, flowers, birds, channels, cross borders, galaxies and ornamental designs. The pallu of the sari is often woven with sun-tree motif to add an extra charm.

The motifs and designs are woven in traditional colours like red, green and black which provide a dramatic effect against the golden colour of the Muga fabric. The weavers nowadays are also using colours like yellow, green, blue, beige, silver, coppery pink, brown etc.

These hand woven heavy gold silk saris with motifs stand out in a three-dimensional effect which give an exclusive and attractive look.

Belongs to – Assam

5. Pat Saris:

Another variety of silk sari available only in Assam much similar to Muga sari. Unlike Muga silk, the pat silk sari has a typical cream and white sheen and can also be bleached and dyed, we get Pat saris in different vibrant colours. Though the traditional colour is white which indicates purity. Various motifs, butis are knitted or woven on the sari field and its border. The motifs used in pat saris are mostly traditional motifs including butis, motifs of animals, human figures, creepers, flowers, birds, channels, cross borders and other ornamental designs. The traditional wedding attire mekhala chaddar (traditional two piece dress) is created with intricate gold and silver embroidery on the Pat silk and the entire field of the body is done with muga silk or gold and silver wire called guna.

 

Pat Silk Sari From Assam

Belongs to – Assam

6. Sambalpuri Saris:

Sambalpuri saris are handloom saris woven coarsely out of silk or cotton in Sambalpur, Orissa. These saris have their original style of crafts known as Baandha which refers to the technique of tying and dyeing of yarns to obtain a fixed design pattern. The design is conceptualized and then the yarns are finely 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 side of the fabric.

These saris have wide borders with many bands of supplementary figuring and very long end pieces. Sometimes sari borders consist of supplementary-warp bands woven 2.5 to 5 centimetres wide in repetitive geometric patterns, usually with a small diamond-shaped design.

Various motifs are used to create unique design on the saris against effulgent coloured backgrounds. Some of them are kumbha, matcha (fish), kechbu (turtle), phula (flower) and conch shell motifs are woven into the fabric. Sometimes floral and animal motifs are also used to decorate the borders and pallu. Geometric patterns are less common. The das phoolia sari, which means with ten flowers have been praised for the intricacy of work.

 

Sambalpuri Silk Sari

Nowadays keeping the demand in mind new design patterns have also been introduced viz. portrait, landscape prints of women, human being, flower pods and various animals like deer, elephant, swan, lion, creepers, and peacock. Silk Sambalpuri saris from Orissa are also available in single and double ikat effect. In contrast to the ikats/patolas of Gujarat these saris have fine texture, flannelly touch, are densely woven, sober in colour and decorated with curved forms, which is peculiar to Orissa ikats.

Few variations of Sambalpuri saris are also seen which include Sonepuri, Pasapali, Bomkai, Barpali, Bapta saris which have substantial demand these days. Most of them have been named after the places of their origin, and are popularly known as Pata.

Belongs to – Sambalpur, West Orissa

6. Gorad Saris:

These are the traditional puja saris of Bengal which features white undyed fields and simply coloured borders.

Belongs to – West Bengal

7. Embroidered Kantha Saris:

 

Intricacies of Kantha

The Kantha embroidery work on saris is very famous from eastern region of India. It shows the folk expression of the art from West Bengal. Kantha refers to the application of simple running stitch covering the entire surface. Traditionally this type of stitching was used to make simple quilts, blankets, and throws from old saris. Few old saris were paired together and they would be sewn together using the kantha embroidery stitch, a simple, creative, and economic way to make something useful and beautiful. The threads used for embroidery were usually drawn from the colorful borders of the discarded saris.

Kantha is done in contrasting colours on natural coloured background of tussar or mulberry silk saris. The stitches used in kantha embroidery are running, darning, satin and loop. Stem stitch is also used to outline the figures. The motifs used depict human figures, animals, birds, fish, kalka, mandala, foliage, tree of life, lotus (usually in the center), lively folk-art designs, and geometrical shapes. Sometimes themes are also taken from the day to day lives. The design motifs are first outlined with needle and thread followed by focal points and then the filled with the colourful running stich. Kantha gives a slight wrinkled, wavy effect to the surface on which it is done which is a typical feature associated with this embroidery.

Belongs to – West Bengal

8. Bengali Tant Saris:

 

These saris are typical handloomed saris from Bengal famous for their crisp and transparent muslin like finish that is favourable for summer wear. Tant saris feature broad silk-embroidered borders pallu embellished with delicate embroidery. Tant saris are available in a wide range of varied colors. The lightness of the body cloth combined with wide and borders and elaborate pallus with supplementary threadwork give the sari its unique evenness of drape.

Belongs to – West Bengal

9.Murshidabad Printed Silk Saris:

 

Tribal Motif Prints on Murshidabad Silk

These are machine loomed Bengali silk, which has a china silk like finish but is more textured. The cloth is fine gauge and lustrous, often printed with delicate Bengali tribal style prints or classic Kashmiri inspired designs.

Belongs to – West Bengal

SARIS OF WEST INDIA

1. Paithani Saris:

These saris originated in the State of Maharashtra and is named after a village near Aurangabad. These saris are now woven in the town of Yeola also. These saris use an enormous amount of labour, skill and sheer expanse of silk material in the process of creation. Distinctive motifs such as parrots, trees, flowers, paisleys, stars, coins, fans, petals, coconuts, lotus, etc are woven into the sari including few patterns derived from Ajanta Caves. Many of these designs are found on the border and pallu in different sizes and patterns and the sari is given the name after the design on it. Tota-maina (parrot), Bangdi-mor (peacock with round design), Asavali (flower and vine), Narli (coconut), are all descriptive of paithanis.. Paithani are generally decorated with the gold dot or coin motif.

 

Speciality of the Paithani is its border and pallav, which are usually in contrast with the sari color. In the pallav, the base is in gold and the pattern is done in silk, giving the whole sari an embossed look. The bright shades of the sari vary from vivid magenta, peacock greens and purples. These saris have a special dhoop-chaav (light and shade) effect which is achieved by bringing two different coloured silk threads together in the process of a simple tabby weave. The dominant traditional colours of vegetable dyes include blue, red and green, black and white, black and red, pink, purplish red and yellow.

The basic weave of the Paithani sari is a tabby weave but more recently even the modern jacquard has been incorporated. The speciality lies in the design which is woven without the assistance of a mechanical contriance like a jala. On a zari warp thread the weft is interlocked with different colours. Multiple spindles are used to produce the linear design.

Belongs to – Maharashtra

2. Gujarati Brocade Saris:

These are traditional Gujarati saris where the raised design is woven in the heavy, golden coloured silk fabric. These saris have a unique feature – the buti (small circular designs), which is woven into the field of the sari in the warp direction instead of the weft resulting in horizontal appearance of the design pattern instead of vertical when draped. Coloured silk yarns are used to weave in the floral motifs against the golden fabric background. Such inlay work is although a common feature in many western Deccan silks but in the Gujarati works usually the leaves, flowers and stems are outlined by a fine dark line. Motifs commonly used to create the raised effect on the sari surface include leaves, flowers, fruits, birds, figures of dancing women and women waving fans. The entire work done on the sari manifests usage of a huge variation of colours thus imitating the enamel work done on the jewellery, that is why is also referred as meenakari.

The Asavali saris are the famous Gujarati brocade saris that had rich brocaded patterns woven in twill weave, a specialty of the area. These saris are highly expensive, however, are gradually becoming extinct. The main areas of production include Mehsana, Jamnagar and Dolka.

Belongs to – Gujarat

3. Patola Saris:

Patola silk fabric is one of most complex textile-weaving techniques in the world. The warp as well as weft threads are coupled and dyed into a complicated pattern, and while weaving the craftsperson has to ensure that the warp and weft threads intersect perfectly to produce the preset pattern. Patan in north Gujarat is the most famous centre for weaving.

 

Magnified look at the tie-dyed warp yarns of Patola

The designs of Patola saris have a wide range of variations and basically fall into three types:

a)      purely geometric forms reminiscent of Islamic architectural embellishments

b)      ajrak (complex geometric print designs of the Sind), such as the navaratna bhat (nine jewels design)

c)      other designs that are incorporated in the Patola saris are the floral and vegetal patterns such as the Vohra bhat (Vohra community design), Paan bhat (paan leaf or peepal tree leaf design), and Chhaabdi bhat (floral basket design).

 

Kunjar-Nari-Popat: Richness of Patola

The Patola saris are also designed with patterns that depict forms as the nari (dancing woman), kunjar (elephant) and popat (parrot).

 

Double Ikat woven motif

The most expensive style in this patola sari is the Double ikat patola sari and is always rare. A cheaper alternative to double ikat patola is the silk ikat sari developed in Rajkot (Gujarat) that creates patola and other geometric designs in the weft threads only.

Belongs to – Gujarat

4. Bandhani or Bandhej Saris:

Bandhani or Bandhej refers to the art of tie and dye carried out in the regions of Gujarat. The term Bandhni is derived from the Hindi word Bandhan meaning tying. Bandhani saris feature the uniquely created small spots or dots produced as a result of resist-dyeing which generate elaborate patterns on the coloured or uncoloured ground fabric. Besides dots, square, waves and stripes are also produced. These bandhani dots have also been named as per their size and shape. Very small spots without a dark centre are called bindi, kori (cowrie shell) for a tear-drop shape; chundadi for round spots and ghatadi for square.

 

Creating Bandhani - Pinched and Tied

The technique of creating a Bandhani sari is tedious. The cloth is first folded lengthwise and then widthwise into 4 folds. The pattern to be produced is the indicated on the ground fabric using the blocks dipped in geru (a red colour mud). The cloth is then pinched with the left hand and tied. This way one knot follows another using the same thread. Tying of the border and pallu is a special process and is locally known as sevo bandhavo. The border and pallu are tied according to the desired pattern by passing the thread from one end to the other in loose stitch so as to bring the entire portion together by pulling the thread from one end.

After the sections which are to be retained in the background colour had been tied, the dying is done. The lightest shade is first done followed by repeat tying process. This way sari is gradually dyed to the final dark color, which is either a brilliant red, mahroon, purple, dark green, deep ultramarine blue or black.

As compared to the sari field, the borders are broad and tied much finely. In order to create a contrasting colour border, the body of the sari is covered with a plastic sheet which is then tied firmly with thick threads. The border is then dipped in contrasting shade to the ground.

 

Final Bandhani Pattern

After precise tying and dyeing of the sari, variety of patterns are consequently produced such as a pattern of large square or circular spots with multiple layers of coloured concentric rings is called laddu-jalebi (coloured sweets) or dabb (small box) or small spots tied closely together to form a block of colour is called a matichar or chains of grains represented by dots is called the dana pattern. Sometimes the sari end-piece or pallu is divided into sections and each section is patterned differently. The section, which is tucked into waist and is locally called utaru pallu has a red coloured background followed by a continuous repeat of semicircle motifs. The section that covers the head is called chavdhan pallu, has 2 additional bands, one of which has the same semicircular motif but the other band has figures of dancing girls.

 

 

Few types of Bandhani saris are produced.

a)      Panetar Sari

Weaved out of Gajji silk in satin weave with red colour borders and a central medallion called a pomcha or padma (lotus flower) on a white coloured ground, which may contain regularly spaced red tie-dyed dots.

b)      Garchola Sari

Features a network of squares created by rows of white tie-dyed spots or woven bands of zari on a red but occasionally green background. The number of squares in the sari is ritually significant multiples of 9, 12 or 52. Single motifs are also created within each compartment viz. elephant, dancing girl, parrot and flower. Sometimes these motifs are woven in the sari using discontinuous supplementary-weft zari. Traditionally it was made out of cotton but now is usually available in silk.

c)       Lahariya Sari

 

Another type of Bandhani saris, perceptible in Rajasthan, which are created by tying the entire length of cloth rather than tiny sections. This produces diagonal stripes of bright colours called lahariya (waves). These saris were traditionally given as gifts during the festivals of Holi and Teej.

The quality of the bandhej can be judged by the size of the dots: the smaller and closer to the size of a pinhead the dots are, the finer is the quality of the bandhej. An intricate design in a sari would have approximately 75000 dots.

When sold the saris are in the quarter-folded form with the knots still tied on. One has to pull the folds apart for the knots to open. Jamnagar, Anjar, and Bhuj are the main centres where Bandhani saris are produced traditionally.

Belongs to – Gujarat

5. Zardosi work Saris:

As the western region has a rich embroidery tradition, much of which is created by ethnic groups like the Rabari and Sodha Rajputs. Saris with metallic-thread embroidery are commonly found in the west, although most of this type of work is created throughout northern India. Three types of metallic-thread embroidery are found, two of which use gold-wrapped threads called either kalabattun or zari. One style (muka) requires thick zari to be coiled on the surface and couched with silk. These designs are predominantly used on heavier silks and satins. Another style, called kamdani and sometimes kalabattun has metallic threads embroidered directly into the fabric with both the zari and ground cloth being finer and lighter than in muka work. This work is done on chiffon and georgette fabrics. Both types of embroidery are also termed as zardozi or zardoshi.

Making zari or the gold wire used in zardosi embroidery is a very tedious job nvolving winding, twisting, wire drawing and gold plating of thread. The embroidery of zari zardozi is performed in a very interesting manner. Gold wire is carefully revolved around a silver bar tapered at one end. Then they are heated in furnace till gold and silver alloy is formed. The gilt wire, when drawn through a series of holes made on steel plates, comes out glittering as gold. The gold-coated silver wire is then flattened and twisted around silk thread to obtain zari.

Zardosi has remained as an appliqué method of embroidery. With one hand the craftsman holds a retaining thread below the fabric. In the other he holds a hook or a needle with which he picks up the appliqué materials. Then he passes the needle or hook through the fabric and continues the same till he completes the design.

Belongs to – Surat, Gujarat

6. Tinsel Sari:

These types of saris are block-printed or silk-screened, but instead of the pattern being a dye, transparent resinous glue is printed onto the fabric. The artisans, who are involved in weaving these saris and designing them, use flakes of mica or gold dust to add glitter in the saris. In recent times, synthetic gold-coloured paints and particles are commonly used to create tinsel saris. On the other hand, a thin white khari is silk-screened to form imitation Bandhani spots on coloured fabrics. Khari work is created in most block-printing centres of western India as well as in the Ahmedabad mills. Earlier, the wealthier women of this region used khari saris sprinkled with gold dust. Tinsel saris are also popular with the name Balla Tinsel.

Belongs to – Gujarat

7. Chanderi Saris:

Chanderi silk from India is one of the traditional methods of hand-weaving that have been developed over the centuries, and passed down through generations. The Chanderi saris are very light with glossy transparency, made in either cotton or silk. These saris have patterns inspired and taken from the Chanderi temples. Its uniqueness lies in its crisp texture, airy feel, narrow borders and the anchal with buttis.

 

Types of Chanderi:

a)      Narrow border

Plain saris having a very narrow border of complementary-warp zari and an endpiece containing a few narrow zari bands, or one single, wider band.

b)      Broader border

Saris with broader borders woven in supplementary warp zari with coloured supplementary silk warp embellishments, woven into small repeat floral or geometrical designs. The endpiece consists of the border elements repeated twice as two parallel bands, often with narrow woven lines and many buttis woven between them.

c)      Wide border

The third type called do-chashmee (two streams) is no longer made but had wide borders with brightly coloured supplementary silk warp in a satin weave upon which were supplementary bands of white geometric patterns. In some saris the borders were reversible.

Chanderi saris are also known for their contrasting colors and the depiction of animal and human figures on them and patterns taken from the Chanderi temples.

Belongs to – Madhya Pradesh

8. Maheshwari Saris:

 

Chequered Maheshwari Sari

The Maheshwari saris are mostly woven in cotton and silk. The typical Maheshwari sari is either chequered, plain or has stripes, combined with complementary colours. The Plain Maheshwaris are also famous as Chandrakala. One popular pattern is called as Baingani Chandrakala, which is woven with a blackish violet warp and a chocolate weft. Another is called Chandratara, the moon and star design, which has lengthwise stripes of two shades and the pattern is arranged with four stripes of one shade attainted by one stripe of another shade. The Karnphool pattern is also quite popular which  has a variety of leaves and flowers on the border.

Maheshwari with Stripes

These saris have a trademark border and pallu, setting them apart from the Paithani, Patola, Kancheepuram and the rest. Originally, the pallu is particularly distinctive with 5 strips, 3 coloured and two white alternating, running along its width. The reversible border of the sari is known as bugdi and can be worn either side, which is unique to Maheshwari Saris.

Belongs to – Madhya Pradesh

9. Waraseoni Saris:

Graceful and simple Waraseoni cotton saris are at the end of a long history of the handloom industry in the state of Madhya Pradesh.Waraseoni sari is a heavy, flannely cotton in simple aesthetic. This is a wearable, affordable style in six yards. The scene is much different now, the working looms in Waraseoni are weaving Chanderi saris.

 

 

 

Belongs to – Madhya Pradesh

10. Bafta Saris:

Beautiful subdued prints on the natural ground color – a mix of lustrous silk in the warp and mercerized cotton in the weft. The cloth glows a beautiful lustrous cream and it has a most unique quality and is the best of both worlds of cotton and silk. Fringed pallus in grand traditional style – but always understated and right. Blouse piece in plain ground. Hard to find bafta handloom is from Madhya Pradesh.

Belongs to – Madhya Pradesh

India the land of culture and crafts has been known to the world for its magnificent textile arts since ages. It will not be wrong to say that the World history of Textiles is incomplete without the mention of India and the Indian traditional textiles. Records of textiles once imported from our country and now reserved in the museums worldwide itself suggest the captivating grandeur of Indian textile pieces.

The sensibilities of nature and emotions bestowed in the textile pieces by Indian artists have always fascinated courts and royalty in India as well as in foreign lands.

Let us get familiar with these phenomenal text-styles and world famous crafts from India.

BALUCHARI

Baluchari refers to the traditional weaving of silk saris with floral or geometrical silk brocaded designs on it. The Baluchari saris are characterized by artistic motifs depicting scenes from Ramayana or sculptures made on historical temples weaved on the sari borders. Others may include motifs like animals, vegetation, miniscule images of human beings, marriage processions, brides in palanquins, horse riders, ethnic musicians. One important feature to notice is the white outlining of the motifs. Nowadays Baluchari style sarees are woven using highly mercerised cotton thread and silky threadwork ornament in bold colors.

Belongs to – West Bengal

Silk Baluchari

Silk Baluchari

BROCADE

A richly woven fabric characterized by raised floral designs attained either by weaving gold and silver threads (zari) or silk threads on a foundation of pure silk or silk and cotton blends. Silk being strong, smooth, fine and durable facilitated weaving of fabulous Brocades. Broadly brocades are classified as pure silk or silk & cotton brocades and zari brocades with gold and silver threads. Natural colours define the mood and poetic association in the fabric. Few apt poetic names like chand tara (moon and stars), dhupchhaon (sunshine and shade), mazchar (ripples of silver), morgala (peacock’s neck), bulbul chasm (nightingale’s eyes) distinguish artistic brocades. Brocades are also famous as ‘Kinkhab‘ literal meaning ‘less dream’, owing to the high content of silver and gold threads, the texture becomes abrasive to the skin which makes one almost sleepless and hence few or less dreams.

Belongs to – Varanasi & Surat

Not to Miss:

CHANDERI

Chanderi refers to a shimmering cotton fabric which is famous for being light weight and having sheer texture and glossy transparency. Practiced exclusively in a town called Chanderi in Madhya Pradesh, India, the art derived its name from. Saris weaved out of chanderi are best for summer wear. Motifs used in chanderi weaving are mostly inspired from nature (earth and sky). Few of them are Swans (hamsa), gold coins (asharfi), trees, fruits, flowers and heavenly bodies. Soft pastel hues characterize chanderi fabrics however, timeless combinations of bright colour borders on an off white base, or red on black, also exist now.

Belongs to – Madhya Pradesh

Not to miss:

CHINTZ

It refers to a painted or stained calico cloth (Calico is unbleached fabric, often not fully processed, cotton), often glazed which originally belongs to India. The term ‘chintz’ is derived from the Indian word ‘chint’ meaning broad, gaudily printed fabric. The intricately patterned large flowers, birds and other pictorial scenes in different bright colours on lighter background characterize chintz. During the 17th and 18th centuries they were first imported to Europe from India and became a popular choice for bed covers, quilts and draperies. Afterwards they began reproducing Indian designs there and later added their own innovative patterns. A well known Chintz make was “toile de Jouy” which was manufactured in Jouy, France between 1700 and 1843.

Belongs to – Coromandel Coast, South East India

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JAMAWAR

The glory, and the colors of nature (flora and fauna) captured skillfully on cloth characterize the famous Jamawars of Kashmir. ‘Jama’ means robe and ‘war’ is yard. King and nobles bought the woven fabric by the yard, wearing it as a gown or using it as a wrap or shawl.

Belongs to – Kashmir

JAMDANI

Jamdani refers to weaving intricate floral and geometric designs and patterned borders on very fine cotton muslin or silk base for making mostly saris. The word Jamdani is of Persian origin where ‘Jam’ means flower and ‘Dani’ means a vase or a container. The base fabric for Jamdani is unbleached cotton yarn and the design is woven using bleached cotton yarns so that a light-and-dark effect is created.  Some of the famous Jamdani patterns are ‘Panna hazaar’ (means a thousand emeralds), ‘Phulwar’, usually worked on pure black, blue black, grey or off-white background colours and the ‘Kalka’ (paisley).

Belongs to – West Bengal

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PATOLA

Patola is one of the famous textiles from Gujarat characterized by weaving of separately dyed warp and weft yarns to create surface motifs as per the design. The term patola is derived from the Sanskrit word pattal (a spindle shaped gourd). Few well known designs are ‘Rattan chowk’ (where diamonds cross with diamonds as they are interspersed around walnut), ‘Narikunjar’ (shows motifs of dancing girl, parrot and elephant), ‘Chhabri’ is a basket made up by four elephants, ‘Waghkunjar’ (shows tiger and elephant), ‘Wadi Bhaff’ (shows motif of flowering creeper). Also there is a variety of leaf and flower and geometrical patterns. The colours used are vivid, fast and pleasantly harmonized.

Belongs to – Gujarat

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Gujarat Patola

Gujarat Patola

PHULKARI

It is an embroidery technique for decorating shawls and dupattas for daily as well as ceremonial uses with flowery surface. Phulkari literally means “flowering”. Odinis covered entirely with heavy phulkari embroidery are famous as Baghs and are customarily given to brides at the time of wedding. The darn stitch carried out on the wrong side of coarse cotton cloth with colored silken thread characterizes phulkari. Bright coloured silk threads like golden yellow, crimson, red, orange, green and pink are usually used. The motifs like flowers, fruits or birds and other carrying a rich repertoire of the folklore and from everyday life are generally embroidered on the cloth.

Belongs to – Punjab

Phulkari Embroidery

Phulkari Embroidery

Phulkari Odini, Patiala

Phulkari Odini, Patiala

The images in this article are sourced.

Cave paintings highlighting Ancient Indian costumes

Cave paintings highlighting Ancient Indian costumes

The costumes and textiles of ancient India can be manifested in the ancient Buddhist scripts, murals in Ajanta Caves and the fascinating sculptures dating back to the Mauryan and the Gupta ages.

From the study of period 321 BC to 8th Century AD, i.e. from the Mauryan to the Gupta period, remarkable descriptions on the evolution of indigenous Indian costumes and coiffures are obtained. Over this period of rule, many dynasties emerged and declined in India like series of waves. The intermingling of these rising dynasties with the existing small kingdoms and change of ruling empires over the period of time resulted in fusion of cultures and crafts which largely influenced the costume styles prevalent during each period of rule.

Traversing through the sculptures and writings of the legends belonging to this era gives a thorough picture of the ancient costumes and the hierarchy of past traditions and techniques being adapted over the period of time. These most talked about dynasties projecting most precious and glorious period of ancient Indian costumes and coiffures are:

1. Maurya and Sunga Perioda (321 – 72 BC)

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2. Satavahana (Andhra) Period (200 B.C. – AD 250)

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3. Kushan Period (130 B.C. – AD 185)

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4. Gupta Period (Early Fourth to Mid-Eigth Centuary AD)

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Right from the beginning of Indus Valley Civilization till date, India has a rich, elaborate and precious treasure of history of textiles. The journey from home spun cotton evidenced in Harappa and Mohenjodaro civilizations to a technically finished fiber used for specific applications as Technical textiles is long but interesting.

The earliest trade of Indian textiles rolls back around 2nd century BC and this can be supported with the use of the word Corbosina for Sanskrit word Karpasa (for cotton) by Caecilius (in Europe). The rise of various empires from 321 AD to 8th century BC marks the evolution of indigenous Indian clothing with great elegance and technical finesse which drew significant attention of the outside world. Evidences of cotton fabrics (originated from Gujarat) found in the tomb of Egypt further strengthen the early trade relations of India with the outer world during medieval period. During 15th and 16th centuries besides spices, Indian textiles caught the major interest of Portuguese and European traders with which a vast ocean of trade flourished. Legendary Dhaka muslins and Silk embroideries from Gujarat were amongst the items of trade initially and during 18th and 19th centuries British East India Company began export of India’s finest cottons, Muslins and Silk cloth. India soon became the prime exporter of cotton, Chintz (painted and printed cotton) and other coarse cotton varieties to other countries including China, Java, Philippines and other European countries.

Embroidered muslin, 19th century

Embroidered muslin, 19th century

Indian Chintz jacket for the elites

Indian Chintz jacket for the elites

Keep on digging the history and more strong evidences will appear clearing defining how long it has been for India busy clothing the world around from kings and queens to the common man. But the Indian supremacy over the world for textiles did not last long and soon began to fade with the laws levied in England and European countries banning imports from India or what we are aware of as the Industrial Revolution.

Though these legendary fabrics are not produced in large scale now but we can still embrace and study about them through collections treasured in books, sculptures, murals, scripts & epics and museums around the world.

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