Baluchari saris are what dreams are made of – designed in silk and woven in contrasting colors with detailed figures, motifs, flowers or scenes from mythology. These saris with their enticing colors and alluring designs are prized possessions of most Bengali women and are worn for special occasions and religious ceremonies.
The Baluchari sari, developed some two hundred years ago, use a palette of dark red, yellow, green, purple, chocolate, cream, white and blue. The intricately carved terracotta temples of Bishnupur provide ample inspiration for the weavers who reproduce whole epics on the pallu of the sari. The sari is usually five yards in length and 42” wide and the field of the sari is covered with small butis and a beautiful floral design runs across the edges.
But behind each beautiful sari lies months of toil and planning as to how to get the design on the pieces with their clever use in the loom. First the designer makes the design on graph papers, which is then copied on punching cards. These cards are then joined to make the full design.
Two types of silk threads from two different regions of the country, Bangalore and West Bengal are used for the weaving—one set vertically and the order horizontally. A month before it is put in the loom, the thread is prepared according to the number of Baluchari saris to be woven in that design while the number of shutters to be used depends on the number of times the motifs will be used all over the sari.
The silk threads are put in boiling water and the next day tied with a rope and put into hot colors. Extra color is then drained out and the threads are put into the spinning wheel. So, whenever you drape yourself in an exquisite Baluchari sari, think of the rich color and bewitching patterns - and think of the weaver and his craftsmanship. Here is a piece of art that you can flaunt, possess and gift, with equal aplomb.
by Chandana Banerjee