August 13, 2012

Traditional Sarees of India

Sarees are the epitome of Indian diversity and culture. Saree has its own grace and charm. The woman clad in a saree looks elegant and gorgeous compared to any other outfit. There are many varieties and variations of saris found in India, depending on the region, fabric, occasions and draping styles. You might be surprised to know, the history and origin of saree is as old as Indus valley civilization.

Sarees from North India

1. Banarsi(Banaras) :This sari has a strong Mughal influence in its design and is a must for a bride. The intricate intertwining floral and foliate motifs, kalga and bel are usually found in the weaving.
A characteristic found along the inner, and sometimes outer, edge of borders is a narrow fringe like pattern like a string of upright leaves called jhalar. This is a signature of Banarasi brocade. 
Banarasi saree from North IndiaTraditional Banarasi saree from North India

2. Jamawar Saree (Kashmir) : The glory, and the colors of nature 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. But today the saree has undergone many changes. Many of the Jamawar sarees now have matching silk shawls attached to them, creating elegant ensembles fit for royalty. New things are being tried out to make jamawar more popular. Saris are woven equally in silk and pashmina. They are also embellished by the incredibly minute aksi embroidery. Some say, Jamawar saree was originated in Uttar Pradesh. These sarees are embroidered with zari threadwork. The popular theme is a jacquard weave in ‘meena’ colours like orange and green.
Traditional Jamawar saree from North India  Traditional Jamawar saree from North India

3. Chikan Saree : Chikan embrodary is a specialty of Lucknow, the city of Utaar Pradesh. It is also called Lakhnavi Chikankari Saree. It has certain grace and elegance, which ensures that it never goes out of style. Generally the sarees are in light earth colors or pastel shades.
Lemon Yellow Chikan Saree from Lucknow  Blue Chikan Saree from Lucknow
Other Sarees from this region :
This region also produces famous sarees such tanchois, amru brocades, shikargarh brocades and tissues. Abrawans (literally meaning flowing water)- Tissue sarees, usually woven with the finest silk thread are also quite popular.
Kincab or Kinkhwab sarees are the most popular of the brocades and are so covered with the zari patterning that the underlying silk cloth is barely visible. 

Sarees from South India :

1. Kancheevaram: Kanchipuram is a town in Tamil Nadu with more than 150 years of weaving tradition. These sarees are characterized by gold dipped silver thread that is woven on the premium quality silk. Kanjee silk is thicker than almost all other silks, and is therefore more expensive. The heavier the silk, the better the quality. Peacock and parrot are the most common motifs. Though lightweight kanjee sarees are popular as they are easy to wear and cost very little, the traditional weavers do not like to compromise
  Kancheevaram Saree

2. Konrad Saree : The Konrad or the temple saree is also a speciality item from Tamil Nadu. These sarees were original woven for temple deities.
These sarees have wide borders and have designs of elephants, peacock as well as many other natural elements which are spread all over the length of saree.  The body of the Konrad sarees do contain a woven pattern usually checks or stripes. 
 Konrad Sarees
3. Mysore Silk Saree : One of the most sought after sarees in South India is Mysore Silk saree. This traditional saree from Karnataka are made of pure silk. The unique characteristic of this saree lies in the shimmering effect of the material. They are admired because of the fabric, rich vibrant colors and soft feel.

4. Pochampally Sarees : 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. These saris are woven in silk, cotton and silk-cotton mixes of bright colours. Apart from Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Orissa are the hubs for producing Pochampally ikat sarees.

Pochampally Sarees  Silk saree (D1895)
Other Sarees from South India include : Ilkal Sarees from Karnataka, Balarampuram Mundu-Veshti Saris from Kerala, Coimbatore Cotton sarees, Madurai Sarees, Chettinad sarees, Madisar sarees from Tamil Nadu,  Guntur Sarees, Narayanpet sarees, Mangalgiri sarees, Dharmavaram sarees, Venkatagiri sarees from Andhra Pradesh.  

Sarees from West India :

1. Pathani Sarees : This saree is named after a village near Aurangabad in Maharashtra. Enormous amount of labor, skill and sheer expanse of material goes in the creation of these beautiful sarees.
Distinctive motifs such as parrots, trees and plants are woven into the saree.The shades vary from vivid magenta, peacock greens and purples Paithani sarees are woven with pure silk and strings of pure gold. . In the pallav, the base is in gold and the pattern is done in silk, giving the whole saree an embossed look.
2. Bandhani Sarees : Bandhani or Bandhej is a popular technique of tie and dye carried out in the regions of Gujarat. These sarees feature the uniquely created small spots or dots produced as a result of resist-dyeing which generate elaborate patterns on the colored or uncolored base fabric. Besides dots, square, waves and stripes are also produced. These bandhani dots are named as per their size and shape. Very small spots without a dark centre are called bindikori (cowrie shell) for a tear-drop shape; chundadi for round spots and ghatadi for square.
Lahariya saree is one type of Bandhani from Rajasthan where entire lenght of the cloth is tied instead of small  sections. This produces diagonal stripes called lahariya (waves).
3. Patola Sarees : These are the most time consuming, elaborate sarees produced using most complex weaving techniques. They have intricate five-color designs which are resist -dyed into both warp and weft threads before weaving. The designs in the Patola sarees have lot of variations from pure geometrical shapes to floral and vegetable patterns to elephants to Nari (dancing woman)
4. Kota Doria Sarees : Also called as Kota sarees, they are produced in small villages around Kota, Rajasthan. These sarees are transparent yet have stable cotton or cotton-silk weave. They are light textured and weightless favorable for summers. They are created in such a way that the saree displays an almost graph like pattern called khats. Often the sarees are embellished with zari work in the border. 
Other sarees from this region : Gujarati Brocade sarees, Tinsel Sarees from Gujarat, Chanderi and Maheshwari sarees from Madhya Pradesh, Gadwal Sarees.

Sarees from East India :

1. Taant (West Bengal) : The word literally means "Made on the Loom". Said to be the pride of Bengal, Tant sarees are woven from cotton and are famous for their crisp, muslin like finish and lightness. They are available in a wide range of soothing colors and are perfect for summers. Tant Sarees are ornamented with supplementary thread works, which makes the saree even more attractive.

2. Muga Sarees (Assam) : 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 motifs and designs are woven in traditional colours like red, green and black which provide a dramatic effect against the golden color of the Muga fabric. Though the traditional dress of Assamese ladies is Mekhala Chaddar (a saree in two piece), sarees are also worn by Assamese women for any kind of formal occasions. Muga sarees are not only elegant and beautiful but they also have ample strength and durability.
3. Baluchari Sarees : Produced  in the Baluchar town of Murshidabad in West Bengal, these sarees are famous for their artistic and unique design.  The borders of these sarees depict stories from Indian epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata. Baluchari sarees come in somber colors with silk brocaded designs on the palla and the border. Baluchari is usually five yards in length. These sarees have colors, which harmonize with one another. You will not find any contrasting colors in it. Even if the sari is red, you will find intricate golden work on it, which will give it an elegant and royal look.
4. Kantha Sarees: Kantha is actually a simple running stitch particularly made on the edges and covering the entire surface. Traditionally this type of stitching was used to make simple quilts, blankets, and throws from old saris.The simplicity of the stitch and the intricacy of the design gives these sarees a sophisticated and elegant look. 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, kalkamandala, foliage, tree of life, lotus (usually in the center), lively folk-art designs, and geometrical shapes.
Other Sarees from this region : Pat sarees from Assam, Sambalpuri sarees from Orissa, Gorad sarees, Bomkai Sarees, Jamdani Sarees,

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