The Indian sari boasts of an existence of 5000 years and is the traditional garment women in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and India wear. It’s available in various colours, weaves, patterns and draping styles and is one of the most fascinating costumes in the world.
Saris were originally hand-woven in silk or cotton and were a considerable investment of both time and money. Today, saris are woven on mechanical looms and made from various other easy to maintain artificial fibres like nylon, rayon and polyester, that don’t require any starch or ironing. However the hand-woven and hand-decorated saris are more expensive and as they are beautiful, they are still popular for use in weddings and other occasions.
Types of saris
Saris are divided into Northern, Eastern, Western, Central and Southern style saris.
- Chikan saris are traditional Lucknow saris with patterns that depend on the type of stitches and thickness of threads used. Some of the stitches used are back, chain and hemstitch to create an open work or shadow-work patterns.
- Benares Brocades or Varanasi silks are some of the richest saris in India, and are high in demand for weddings and functions. They are made of finely woven silk and are heavily decorated with engravings.
- The ‘tant’ or handloom saris are light and come in various styles and colours with wide and silky thread work borders.
- The Jamdani handlooms use peacocks, bold vines and flowers in its simple and geometric tribal style designs.
- Kantha West Bengal saris are famous for its delicate Kantha embroidery.
- Baluchari saris have detailed figures, architectural scenes and animals depicted as religious epics of India with wide borders having repeat motifs from its pallu.
- The Ikat saris have a metallic finish and delightful yarn dyed patterns. The metal finish of the sari is attributed to its locally produced silk fibre while heavy thread work borders and pallus add to the geometric ikat patterns.
- The hand-woven Paithani silk saris come from Paithan region of Maharashtra.
- Bandhani saris are cotton or silk hand-tie dyed saris classically from Rajasthan and Gujarat.
- The hand loomed Kota Doria pure cotton saris from Rajasthan are a rare find. These saris have an airy feel that picks up the slightest breeze.
- The 9 yard saris called Lugade or Nauvaree are usually worn by elderly Maharashtrian ladies.
The super light Chanderi sari from Madhya Pradesh has a unique translucence and is generally plain in muted pasted colours. Some have a simple striped anchal on it while others have small bhutties spread through the sari.
- Venkatagiri saris from Andhra Pradesh are crisp and lightweight and come with a shiny finish.
- The Gadwal is famous for its handloom jari saris and its weavers can fold the sari to match the size of a small matchbox.
- The low range Coimbatore cotton saris have plain fields and an understated pallu ornament. The high end saris have thread and zari work with intricate thread work borders.
- Mysore saris from Karnataka have huge borders.
- Richly brocaded Kanchi silk saris come from Kanchipuram of Tamil Nadu. These saris have wide colored thread or zari borders and striped style pallus in simple tribal style.