Chanderi Sarees: A Journey from Silk to a Saree A product of Indian handloom


‘Chanderi has long been famous for the manufacture of delicate muslins….The cloth is of unusual fineness and delicacy while the coloured gold and silk borders are of surpassing beauty’

Chanderi Saree is a great product of Chanderi, one of the well-known handloom cities in India. Chanderi is famous for its sarees. Besides , the city is one of the best tourist places in Madhya Pradesh.  Chanderi is situated in Ashok Nagar district of North of Madhya Pradesh, situated on the boundary of two cultural regions of the state, Malwa and Bundelkhand.

According to mythology or the Vedic period, it was said that Chanderi was founded by lord Krishna’s cousin Shishupala. The famous weaving culture started during the 2nd century and 7th century. But the weaving culture or tradition has been available from the 13th century. In the beginning the weavers were Muslims and later in 1350 the Koshti weavers from Jhansi were migrated to Chanderi and settled down there. During the Mughal period, the cloth business of Chanderi has moved to peak. Saree making was exclusive to this region and it came here as a product of love –something they were proud of as part of their culture and today it is our heritage.

There have been changes in the methodologies, equipments and even the compositions of yarns from past. The weavers are actually the symbol of the heritage, as they have been the ones, who produced the kinds of stuff that received appreciation even from the royals.  At present, there are over 3,600 families of weavers settled in Chanderi, consisting nearly 60% of the town’s entire population.  Some Chanderi weavers also incorporate Banaras-influenced patterns like meenakari (coloured inlay) or patella (jeweled cut work).

Best Chanderi Sarees are produced using three raw materials: cotton, silk thread, and zari.  The saris they weave have either a plain body with zari borders or are sprinkled with small floral or geometric motifs. The technique of weaving, using cotton in the weft and silk in the warp, is what sets the craftsmanship of these weavers apart from others. Yet, the weaves are still evolving with every passing trend, making the Sarees softer and less transparent.  All of these materials are brought from other regions of India.

Traditional looms are still used as the primary means of production for Handloom Chanderi Sarees and Handloom Chanderi Dupattas. These include pit-looms, dobby, and jacquard looms. The hand-woven silk has a light, sheer quality that sets it apart from textiles produced en masse in factories. Traditional coin, Flora art, Peacocks and geometrics are woven into different Chanderi patterns Sarees & Dupatts. The colors of Chanderi silk come from both natural as well as chemical processes.

Chanderi Sarees are available in a dizzying variety of designs, including Bagh prints and contemporary, geometric patterns alongside the traditional motifs. Buy best Chanderi Sarees online from Besides, Chanderi Dupttas online are available in many colors and varieties at


The Art of Hand Block Printing

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Hand block printing, a craft handed down through generations is in the forefront of the fashion scene today. Block printing is believed to have originated in China towards early 3rd century. Records of its presence in Egypt and some Asian countries were also found around the 4th century, from where it spread to Europe and other places. India has been renowned for its printed and dyed cotton cloth since the 12th century.

Apart from wood, blocks were made of metals and porcelain also. But wooden block remains the most sought after apart from metal ones which has gained popularity in recent times. The ancient craft has seen a major revival over the last two decades and has moved away from its traditional rural centers to the metropolitan cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Bangalore.

Block printing has become popular because the simple process can create such sensational prints in rich and vibrant colors. Originally natural dyes were used but today they have been replaced by chemical and artificial colors. The main colors used are red, the color of love, yellow the color of spring, blue as in Krishna, and saffron of the yogi.


In hand block printing, the design is first drawn on wood using a sharp needle and then the desired design is carved using the chisel, hammer, file, nails etc. The printing involves laying the cloth/fabric, which is to be printed, on flat tables and impressions are made using the beautifully carved blocks.  In case of direct printing, the block is dipped in the colored dye and impressions are made. In case of resist dyeing, impression of an impermeable material (clay, resin, wax etc) is made on the fabric which is then dyed in the desired shade. The block image remains un printed and reappears in reverse.

Wooden trolleys with racks have castor wheels fastened to their legs to facilitate free movement. The printer drags it along as he works. On the upper most shelf trays of dye are placed. On the lower shelves printing blocks are kept ready. The fabric to be printed is washed free of starch and soft bleached if the natural grey of the fabric is not desired.

If dyeing is required as in the case of saris, where borders or the body is tied and dyed, it is done before printing. The fabric is stretched over the printing table and fastened with small pins (in the case of saris the pallu is printed first then the border).

Luxurionworld offers many varieties of hand-block printed sarees, dupattas, &stoles. Some of them you may find in categories such as Ajrakh, Kalamkari, Batik. There is a special category for Hand printed & Block Printed Sarees in Bengal.



Phulkari Art – the Vibrancy of Punjab


Sitting on the charpoys (beds woven with jute strings) pulled into the protective shade of a tree, or ensconced against a wall, women in villages and small towns all over Punjab are often busy creating spectacular flower-embroidery on dupattas, shawls or other garments. Called phulkari in local parlance, the origin of this beautiful art can be traced back to the 15th century AD. The word phulkari literally means flowering. It is a form of craft in which embroidery is done in a simple and sparse design over shawls and dupattas. In some cases where the design is worked over very closely, covering the material entirely, it is called bagh (a garden of flowers).

The embroidery of phulkari and bagh is done in long and short darn stitch, which is created into innumerable designs and patterns. It is the skilful manipulation of this single stitch that lends an interesting and characteristic dimension to this needlework. The threads used were of a silk yarn called pat (Heer). Bright colors were always preferred and among these, golden yellow, red, crimson, orange, green, blue, pink etc, were the popular ones. For the embroidery, only a single strand was used at a time, each part worked in one color. Shading and variation were not done by using various colors of thread. Instead, the effect was obtained by the dexterous use of horizontal, vertical or diagonal stitches. This resulted in giving an illusion of more than one shade when light fell on it and when it was viewed from different angles.

Beginning with geometrical patterns, flowers and leaves, the repertoire of motifs was constantly enlarged. Birds, animals and human figures and objects of everyday use were inducted, along with vegetables, pots, buildings, rivers, the sun and the moon, scenes of village life, and other imagery. Phulkaris and baghs came to be embroidered in a stunning range of exquisite designs. In dhoop chaon, which literally means “sun and shade”, an amazing interactive display of light and shade was created. The designs remained earthy and true to life. There was dhaniya bagh (coriander garden), motia bagh (jasmine garden), satranga bagh (garden of rainbow), leheria bagh (garden of waves) and many other depictions.

Today the most intricate and sought after phulkaris are the sainchi phulkaris, which bring scenes from rural Punjab to life. An incredible wealth of detail is embroidered onto cloth. With time, the phulkaris became closely interwoven with the lives of the women of Punjab.

The joys, sorrows, hopes, dreams and yearnings of the young girls and women who embroidered the phulkaris were often transferred onto cloth. Many folk songs grew out of this expressive combination of skills and intense feelings. So, it is that one hears a young woman, whose betrothed has not sent a promised message to her, murmuring sadly, softly, as she embroiders peacocks on a phulkari. It was not long before phulkari folk songs became a part of the famous, pulsating folk dances of Punjab – the gidda and the bhangra.

The bagh was considered a symbol of marriage and among the wealthy families, sometimes up to fifty-one pieces of various designs were given to the bride. She, in turn, wore them for auspicious and ceremonial occasions. In some parts of Punjab, it was customary to drape the new mother with a bagh on the eleventh day after the birth of the child, when she left the maternity room for the first time.

Phulkaris were also made for religious ceremonies or to be used at other festive times. A phulkari is sanctified to be used as the canopy over the holy book of the Sikhs, the ‘Guru Granth Sahib’. For each different occasion, for each different setting, the versatile fingers and fertile imagination of the women of Punjab designed an impressive selection of phulkaris.

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Kantha Embroidery of West Bengal

The art of decoration of fabric or other material with threads, wires or leather using a needle may be defined as embroidery. With the advent of sophisticated machines, embroidery is possible by machines also, especially for repetitive volume work. But, it is the hand embroidery that continues to fascinate mankind for thousands of years. Traditionally, women have been practicing this art from time immemorial.

The Kantha Embroidery was almost the lost art until a few years ago, is the predominantly the most popular form of embroidery practiced by the rural women. The traditional form of Kantha embroidery was done the soft dhotis and saris. The oldest reference to Kantha is in “Sri Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita” by Krishnadas Kaviraj Which was written some 500 years back. Kantha was said to be lady’s self expression. The real kantha narrates a story ,the emotions and life of artist. There, a young woman pining for her loved one decided to express her story using running stitch to sew together old clothes and create beautiful blankets. The Kantha sarees have helped in keeping alive a folk art of Bengal. The tradition of Kantha embroidery is very old and it is mentioned in Sanskrit Grammar written by Panini around the sixth century B.C.  The Ramayan mentions Chandrabati’s Kantha stitching as one of the skills that Sita excelled.

The word Kantha means patched clothes. Kantha evolved out of necessity to drape or protect against cold. Kontha on Sanskrit means rags. That era thread and cloth were not easily available to common people so they started to use overused saris or dhotis by stitching them up. They used the strand of thread from the colorful border of the saris and stared to make simple designs with them. The real Kantha embroidery is doorukha- double faced- a style in which the stitches are so skillfully made that the details of each design appear identical on either side.

The designs may be roughly divided into illustrations of epic and folk stories, ritualistic motifs, luxuriant vegetation of woods, with animals roaming and deer running, peacocks dancing, houses with balconies filled with peoples, temples with friezes, articles of daily use like caskets, baskets, nutcrackers, hukkas, beds, umbrella, pitcher, comb, mirror, candelabra, personal items like costumes and jewellery, vehicles like chariots, palanquins, elephant with howdahs, horses with saddles.


Kantha is worked by women in their leisure time


Lotus is the most important amongst motifs and usually fills the centre of piece. An overall lotus pattern is sometimes built up by alternating red and black petals.


Luxurionworld offers the widest variety of Kantha Work sarees in India.

Batik Sarees – Traditional Dyeing with Trendy Look


The word batik is Javanese in origin. It may either come from the Javanese word amba (‘to write’) and titik (‘dot’), or may derive from a hypothetical Proto-Austronesian root *beCík (‘to tattoo’). The word is first recorded in English in the Encyclopædia Britannica of 1880, in which it is spelled battik.

Batik craft came from the Coromandel Coast to South East Asia and revived in Shantiniketan, near Calcutta, and has now gone all over the country and is practiced everywhere. Wax is used as a resist on the parts of the fabric which are dyed different from the base color which is usually dyed in a dark color. Wax resist dyeing of fabric is an ancient art form. The applied wax resists dyes and therefore allows the artisan to colour selectively by soaking the cloth in one colour, removing the wax with boiling water, and repeating if multiple colours as desired.

Batik fabric is washed in boiling water so as to remove the wax from batik fabric and then it is again washed with soap after all the colors have been absorbed. The color seeps through the cracks in the irregular network of the breaking wax-coat. The removal of the wax and the irregular network forms a unique design to give the fabric a beautiful appearance.

Firstly, a cloth is washed, soaked and beaten with a large mallet. Patterns are drawn with pencil and later redrawn using hot wax, usually made from a mixture of paraffin or bees wax, sometimes mixed with plant resins, which functions as a dye-resist.

After the cloth is dry, the resist is removed by boiling or scraping the cloth. The areas treated with resist keep their original colour; when the resist is removed the contrast between the dyed and undyed areas forms the pattern. This process is repeated as many times as the number of colours desired.

The most traditional type of batik, called batik tulis (written batik), is drawn using only the canting. The cloth need to be drawn on both sides and dipped in a dye bath three to four times. The whole process may take up to a year; it yields considerably finer patterns than stamped batik.

Batik is a “resist” process for making designs on fabric. The artist uses wax to prevent dye from penetrating the cloth, leaving “blank” areas in the dyed fabric. The process, wax resist then dye, can be repeated over and over to create complex multicolored designs.

Silk Sarees in Batik are made mostly in Bengal but cotton fabrics and home textiles are produced both in Gujarat as well as in Madhya Pradesh.

Five basic techniques are combined to create various effects:

  1. CRACKING : This effect is produced by applying only paraffin wax. The fabric is dipped in the molten wax or else thick brush is used for even waxing.
  2. SCRATCHING : To acquire thin line diagrams this technique is used. Here only bees wax is used. The entire fabric is waxed similar to cracking and after the wax is dried the design is etched out with the help of a pin/biological needle.
  3. SPLASHING : Here molten wax is splashed over the fabric with the help of a brush or stick. This produces overall tiny spots as design.
  4. SCRATCH & CRACK : As the name suggests this technique combines the process of scratching and cracking. Here again paraffin wax is used similar to cracking. The line design is then etched out similar to scratching. In this variation the background will have the cracks along with a finely etched out line design.
  5. BATIK PAINTING : This is the actual batik where the effect is like a printed motif. Any suitable motif can be selected for this purpose. More than one colours can also be produced. First the wax is applied to the portions of the design where white or base colour needs to be resisted. Then the fabric is dyed. After dyeing the fabric is again waxed for the second colour. The white portions waxed earlier are also re-waxed, as dyeing tends to destroy the waxing.

    Visit to a batik unit with Zahina at MP


PATOLA – The Exclusive Art from Gujrat


The ancient art of patola weaving (double Ikkat ), dating back to the 4th century AD originated in Patan, Gujarat. Epics like Ramayana and Narsinha Purana refer to the use of patola in marriage ceremonies as an auspicious garment. This traditional art received great patronage during the Chalukya period. The most time consuming and elaborate saree created in the western region is which has intricate five-colour designs resist-dyed into both warp and weft threads before weaving, resulting in a completely reversible fabric.

The process itself has never left the area of its origin – although imitations do exist. The final product is available in an array of beautiful, bright colors, and that the weave is pretty tight, and a closely knit one, that’s often complemented by bright, Indian motifs and designs. It is used as a bridal wear in Gujarat.  In almost all Patolas, the entire body of sari is patterned and combinations of designs are used in borders and pallav.  A few have double Ikat borders and pallav with single coloured plain body.

Their distinctive repetitive, often geometric designs fall into three types

  • purely geometric forms reminiscent of Islamic architectural embellishments and ajrak (complex geometric print designs of the (sind), such as the navaratna bhat (nine jewels design);
  • floral and vegetable patterns which, like the former, catered to the needs of the Muslim market which eschewed depictions of animals and people, such as the Vobra bhat (Vohra community design), paan bhat (paan leaf or peepal tree leaf design) and chhaabdi bhat (floral basket design); and
  • designs depicting such forms as the nari (dancing women), kunjar (elephant) and popat (parrot). Patola made for the South-East Asian market often had large triangular tumpals resist-dyed into the endpiece, a pattern missing from most patola made for the Indian market. Only the Vohra Muslims used a version of it in their wedding sarees.

A silk ikat saree industry has recently developed in Rajkot (Gujarat) that creates patola and modern geometric designs in the weft threads only: Because so much less labour is involved in making these sarees, they are considerably cheaper than the double-ikat patola.


The tie and dye weave method is resulting in identical pattern on both sides of fabric.  Red, Yellow, Green, Black, and White are traditional colours used in weaving.

The basic patterns which are mostly used; are of plant, zoomorphic and geometrical motifs.  The most popular designs are Narikunjar, Pan Bhat, Fulwagh and Chaokadhi Bhat using motifs of flowers and birds.

The most found designs are:

  1. Chhabdi Bhat: Basket pattern.
  2. Fulvadi Bhat:  Flowering pattern.
  3. Ratanchowk Bhat:  Jewel mosaic- includes floral elements.
  4. Pann Bhat:  Pipal leaf pattern.
  5. Akhrot Bhat:  Walnut motifs.
  6. Nari Bhat:  Women and Elephants designs.
  7. Wagh Bar Hathi Bhat:  Consisting of tigers and 12 Elephants.
  8. Vohra Cheer Bhat:  A geometrical pattern usually worn by Vohra Muslims at wedding and auspicious days.
  9. Maharas Bhat:  Women dancing a typical Gujarati folk dance.

The Ikat Art on Fabric – Great in Demand and Difficult to Weave

Ikat, kat, or ikkat, is a dyeing technique used to pattern textiles that employs a resist dyeing process on the yarns prior to dyeing and weaving the fabric. Ikat is an Indonesian language word, which depending on context, can be the nouns: cord, thread, knot and the finished ikat fabric as well as the verbs “to tie” or “to bind”.  In ikat the resist is formed by binding individual yarns or bundles of yarns with a tight wrapping applied in the desired pattern. The yarns are then dyed.

Ikat is similar to tie and dye in regards to the use of resist dyeing to produce elaborate patterns. First the yarns are wound onto a frame. Then they are tied into bundles. The warp yarns are then wrapped tightly with thread or some other dye-resistant material to prevent unwanted dye permeation. The procedure is repeated, depending on the number of colours required to complete the design. Multiple coloration is common, requiring multiple rounds of tying and dyeing. The newly dyed and thoroughly washed bundles are wound onto the loom to produce the warp (longitudinal yarns). Warp threads are adjusted for the desired alignment for precise motifs.


A characteristic of ikat textiles is an apparent “blurriness” to the design. The blurriness is a result of the extreme difficulty the weaver has lining up the dyed yarns so that the pattern comes out perfectly in the finished cloth. The blurriness can be reduced by using finer yarns or by the skill of the crafts person. Ikats with little blurriness, multiple colours and complicated patterns are more difficult to create and therefore often more expensive.

This form of weaving requires the most skill for precise patterns to be woven and is considered the premiere form of ikat. The amount of labour and skill required also make it the most expensive, and many poor quality cloths flood the tourist markets.

With the traditional process of making Ikat sarees by hand, the process can take up to seven months between two people to complete one length of a saree. To produce a single length of a saree even using the automated process, the numbers of steps involved are 14 elaborate ones.


In warp ikat it is only the warp yarns that are dyed using the ikat technique. The weft yarns are dyed in solid colour. The ikat pattern is clearly visible in the warp yarns wound onto the loom even before the weft is woven in. As sarees are a sought-after garment by both Indian locals and modern-day fashionistas, warp ikat sarees produced in these regions continue to be in high demand.


In weft ikat it is the weaving or weft yarn that carries the dyed patterns. Therefore, the pattern only appears as the weaving proceeds. Weft ikats are much slower to weave than warp ikat because the weft yarns must be carefully adjusted after each passing of the shuttle to maintain the clarity of the design.

Weft refers to the yarn that produces visible dyed patterns as it is woven into the warps in order to produce fabric. The process of weft ikat is more time consuming compared to warp ikat. This is due to the artisans’ intricate attention to detail in the adjustment of the weft, necessary throughout the weaving process in order to maintain the consistency and clarity of patterns.


Double Ikat is a technique in which both warp and the weft are resist-dyed prior to weaving. Obviously it is the most difficult to make and the most expensive. Double ikat is only produced in three countries: India, Japan and Indonesia.

We are going to talk in detail about Patola (Silk from Gujarat) & Vichitrapuri (Cotton from Orissa), the two wonders of Double Ikat Exclusive Sarees produced only in India. Pochampally, Telia Rumals & many more varieties of sambalpuri Ikats in the days to come.

Luxurionworld offers many varieties of Ikat to suit your style



Ajrakh Blockprint: Highest Standard of Elegance with Vegetable Dyes

When the world is buzzing with “sustainability” and “environment-friendly” as the newest big trends of the future, for many centuries, innumerable crafts have existed in harmony with nature. Some things are so subtle that they do not glare out, yet so vivid that one cannot help but appreciate the aesthetics in their creation. One such craft is the Ajrakh.


Traditionally, Ajrakh is the name of a block printed cloth with deep crimson red and indigo blue background, bearing symmetrical patterns with interspersed unprinted sparkling white motifs. An ancient craft, the history of the Ajrakh can be traced back to the civilizations of the Indus Valley that existed around 2500 BC-1500 BC.

The term “Ajrak”, may be derived from “Azrak”, meaning blue in Arabic, as blue happens to be the one of the principal colours in Ajrak printing.  Ajrak craft products are made with natural dyes. The entire  production  of the products include both vegetable dyes and mineral dyes. Indigo is key dye.

Ajrakh cloth carries many meanings. The popular story amongst local printers is that Ajrakh means “keep it today.” It is also linked to azrakh, the Arabic word for indigo, a blue plant which thrived in the arid ecology of Kachchh until the 1956 earthquake.

The cloth is made in a sixteen step process of washing, dyeing, printing, and drying, which requires a high level of skill and concentration in order to keep colors fast and even.


The authentic Ajrakh is printed on both sides by a method called resist printing. The printing is done by hand with hand carved wooden blocks. Several different blocks are used to give the characteristic repeated patterning. Making the blocks is a considerable challenge since the pattern has to synchronize perfectly with the whole of the Ajrakh as well as to cover various areas against dye.

Ajarak printing is a long process involving many stages of printing and washing the fabric over and over again with various natural dyes and mordants such as harda, lime, alizarin, indigo and even camel dung. The technique of resist printing allows exclusive absorption of a dye in the desired areas only and prevents absorption on the areas intended to be left uncolored.


The raw fabric in full length is pulled exhaustively through the river many times, scoured, beaten, steamed, mordanted, printed with resist mud pastes from the banks of the river, covered with powdered camel dung and ground rice husks; dyed in deep madder and indigo.

Unlike other processes of printing on cloth, where the colour is applied directly to the cloth, in Ajrakh block printing, the fabric is first printed with a resist paste and then dyed. The process is repeated again and again with different kinds of dyes, to eventually achieve the final pattern in the deep red and blue hues. This gradual process is also very time consuming, as the longer an artisan waits before beginning the next step, the more vivid the final print becomes. Thus, the entire process can take upto two weeks resulting in the creation of the beautiful eye-catching patterns of the Ajrakh.

This craft has been on a decline because modern, quicker methods of printing and bright chemical dyes are replacing the natural, muted colours and this slow and careful process of printing this traditional textile. But with efforts of the master craftsmen and increasing awareness among the urban people, this crafts is slowly gaining momentum. Because of being an environment friendly ancient craft, Ajrakh, is slowly gaining visibility among the cosmopolitan.


Luxurionworld offers you wide variety of Sarees, Dupattas, & stoles with Ajrakh Block Printing. All pieces are exclusive and comply with the highest standard of dyeing.

Baluchari Sarees: The Epic Sonnet of Indian Textile

Baluchari Sarees

Baluchari sari is a fabric woven in plain weave, but brocaded in unique designs with untwisted silk threads. Extremely colourful, a traditional Baluchari is said to have been woven in 17 different colours.

The name “Baluchari” originates from a peripheral town of Ziaganj in Murshidabad known as Baluchar, 23 kms North of Beharampur on the river Bhagirathi; which became the focal point of textile art in the Eighteenth century.

Its chief characteristic is the emphasis on 14 to 32 inches Anchala (Pallu) or end piece; which decorates with utmost skill; the motifs and subjects worked on can now be looked upon as a reflection of contemporary life-style and tradition. A remarkable feature of it is introduction of human figures in their contemporary costumes and modes.

The Baluchari is figured with Hamsa (Swan) and other animal motifs. Peacock motif either single or in pair, rows of deer in alternate colors, floral motifs, flowering shrubs, mango – motif, or Kalka, the tree of life or meandering creeper are used in it. Human motifs with Muslim settings are also used. They are usually decorated with floral designs as a ground work; leaving base a central rectangle which is ornamented by four mango motifs in the corners and human figures are arranged in rows along the sides of the rectangle.

Pictorial representation of subjects includes a seated lady holding a flower, a lady riding on horseback, a lady smoking a traditional Hookah, a pair of ladies with birds in hands or in conversation. Male figures include males on horseback, prince proceeding to battle holding an unsheathed dagger, nobleman smoking Hookah, with falcon in hands, riding on elephant with mahout holding a flag, a lion or tiger hunter and cannoners in panels etc. These pictures had an impact of Muslim environment in respect of their dress, hair – style, posture etc.

These designs had later dominated by European rule such as  Locomotive carrying Europeans, sometimes with both Europeans and Indian passengers and attendants, Double – Decker steam launches with passengers and crew inside with a dog in lower section of the launch, European ladies and gentlemen riding coaches drawn by horses, Europeans being driven in chariots etc.

The Baluchari has shades of Red, Yellow, Green, Purple and Chocolate besides while and shot colors and no Black dye. In order to obtain effect of Black, deep indigo and deep Chocolate colors are used.   The ground colors are usually dark and the pictorial designs are woven silk threads of lighter colors like cream etc.

The production of this ancient Indian brocaded silk in Murshidabad finally came to an end at the beginning of the twentieth century.  The art of Baluchari weaving was revived by the All India Handicrafts Board in the district of Bishnupur in West Bengal and today they are being woven in Varanasi, too.  The colours and patterns are woven according to present day consumer needs and though some beautiful Baluchari textiles are produced, the elusive charm of the old sari is lost.

Baluchari Sarees2

Pretty Paithanis

From being the preserve of royalty, the Paithani has grown to become an essential saree in the wardrobe of every Indian woman, which is usually available in a variety of rainbow colors. The saree is named after a village near Aurangabad in Maharashtra. The richest and most creatively time-consuming of all the shallu  sarees,  Paithani  sarees continue to be popular especially for weddings


Besides cultural influences, the Indian penchant for mythological origins takes the birth of the Paithani back to the times of gods and goddesses, when Goddess Parvati remarked that she did not have an attire to wear for an Apsara’s wedding. Overhearing her words, Lord Shiva immediately asked his weavers to create a fabulous saree for his beautiful consort. They set to work, weaving rich threads of gold and silk. But instead of the usual process of ornamenting a silk textile with motifs of gold as they had always done, they skillfully reversed the concept and wove the body of the textile with pure gold thread embellishing it with exquisite motifs of silk.

The enormous amount of labour, skill and sheer expense of materials used to create the best of these sarees rivalled the other luxury fabrics of the Mughal courts. Even into the twentieth century, these sarees had royal associations. In the revival of Paithani weaving, the production was oriented towards export requirements, while saris were produced only for sophisticated buyers.

Paithani evolved from a cotton base to a silk base. Silk was used in weft designs and in the borders, whereas cotton was used in the body of the fabric. Present day Paithani has no trace of cotton. Paithani can be classified by three criteria: motifs, weaving, and colours.

Paithani is characterized by borders of an oblique square design, and a pallu with a peacock design. Plain as well as spotted designs are available. Among other varieties, single colored and kaleidoscope-colored designs are also popular. The kaleidoscopic effect is achieved by using one color for weaving lengthwise and another for weaving widthwise.

The specaility lies in the technique; the design being woven without the assistance of a mechanical contivance like a jacquard or jala.  The material takes longer than most (months on end) to be woven. It uses multiple ‘ Tillis ‘ (bomboo needles) or spindles to produce the design.  The borders are created with interlocked weft technique either with coloured silk or zari.  A wide band of supplementary warp zari is woven upon the coloured silk border.  In borders woven with a zari ground, coloured silk patterns are added as a supplementary weft inlay against the zari; usually inform of lower or creeping vines often woven with colors going lengthwise and widthwise for a little variation causing a rainbow effect.  The weft threads are only of zari, forming a golden ground upon which angular, brightly coloured silk designs are woven in the interlocked weft technique, producing a tapestry effect.

These patterns usually consist of intertwining vines, branches, leaves and flowers as well as Parrots, Peacocks, and even Horses and riders. The end piece (Pallu) has fine silk warp threads that are cut and retied to a different color as in the Petni technique of Kanchipuram.


It takes approximately one day to set the silk threads on the loom. “Tansal” is used to put the “wagi”. The “pavda” works like the paddle to speed up the weaving. The “jhatka” is used to push the “kandi” from one side to the other. “Pushthe” is used in designing the border of Paithani in which it is punched according to design application. “Pagey” are tied to the loom. The threads are then passed through “fani”.

Zari is a metallic yarn, made of pure silver. Originally, zari was manufactured in Yeola; Surat now being another zari-producing center. Initially, zari used in making Paithani was drawn from pure gold. However, silver is the affordable substitute today. Due to proximity to the Ajanta caves, the influence of the Buddhist paintings can be seen in the woven Paithani motifs, Small motifs like circles, stars, kuyri, rui phool, kalas pakhhli, chandrakor, clusters of 3 leaves, were very common for the body of the sari. The dominant traditional colours of vegetable dyes included: