Woven into the fabrics of India are stories about people and the colorful land they belong to.
Take for instance, the Paithani that speaks about tradition, history and beauty through its rich and resplendent paithani saris. Paithani is a gold and silk sari named after the Paithan region in Maharashtra state where they are woven by hand. Made from very fine silk, it is considered as one of the richest saris in Maharashtra.
Orissa is known for Ikkat. Ikkat is a type of weaving where the warp, weft or both are tie-dyed before weaving to create designs on the finished fabric. Orissa, in eastern India, is home to one of the most famous Ikkat traditions called the double Patan Patola. These silk fabrics are double Ikkat and are textile masterpieces. In fact the technique and process to make it has to be so precise, that, a sari length takes two men about seven months to complete.
Baluchari is synonymous with Bengal. Baluchari textiles come from the town of Baluchar in Bengal. It was during 1704 that the first Baluchari weaving took place. At one stage no gold or silver threads were used in the making of the fabric except the pure mulberry silk. The unique characteristic of this fabric is the white outlining of motifs like animals, vegetation and other figurative patterns.
West Bengal, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Assam and Maharashtra produce a large variety of Tussar, both plain and with designs woven into the fabric. The "mekhala" worn in Assam has small woven motifs, which are unique to the region.
In Manipur, the borders of phaneks, a garment worn by Manipuri women is embroidered with delicate silk thread embroidery.
Kanchipuram in South India is a household word for the most desired silk wedding saris in India as well as cottons in brilliant checks and plaids. Typically, Kanchipuram saris have patterns of brightly contrasting colors—maroon and green, peacock blue and pink—and gold or silver thread woven into the borders.
Andhra Pradesh is called the Land Of head-woven Fabrics. And some of the most beautiful saris come from the looms of Pochampalli, Venkatagiri, Gadwal, Narayanpet, Dharmavaram and other regions of this state. They are named after the places of their origin. The Pochampalli textiles are made using the tie and dye technique. Different coloured yarns are woven to from exquisite geometrical designs.
Karnatak is known for Mysore silk and Kasuti – beautiful motifs created in cross stitch.
We’ve hopped across to almost every state and picked out a fabric and textile art special to that place. But there’s till so much more to explore.
Also read: On the Textile Trail - Part 1
by Chandana Banerjee