Exploring the Appeal of Paithani Sarees
By Hemant Jain
In the splendid heritage of Indian textiles, handicrafts and regional fabrics, there are still a few undiscovered gems that, though much appreciated by connoisseurs and designers, are not yet considered mainstream. One such sparkling treasure is the Paithani saree named after the town near Aurangabad where it has been produced since its creation. These gorgeous garments are considered treasured handlooms in Maharashtra and in their most glorious, pure and traditional avatars are passed down from one generation to the next. Today, of course, they are known and coveted across the country though they still haven’t gained the kind of universal adoration bestowed upon Kanchivaram or Banarasi saris.
Paithani sarees have been produced for many centuries by skilled artisans, who often pass the skills and techniques required to create this kind of saree from one generation to the next. The process of their creation was both costly and labor intensive as fine, expensive materials had to be woven using complex methods to achieve the intricate tapestry like effect these garments have. In fact, for a long time, Paithani sarees were exclusively produced for royal and noble patrons who were the only ones who could commission such an expensive garment. Pure gold threads from Surat were combined with the finest silk threads using a complicated weaving method designed to highlight the delicacy of the designs. Nowadays, of course, a Paithani saree is more likely to be woven with silver zari or gold coated threads which greatly reduces the cost but doesn’t really affect the beauty of the textile. The silk is woven in the same traditional manner it has been for so many centuries.
A Paithani saree has many distinguishing characteristics that set it apart. It is known to have a unique luster because of the harmonious silk and metallic thread weave. It can come in single, bright colors such as pink, green or yellow or it can have a multi-hued kaleidoscopic effect created by use of threads of different colors for the lengthwise and width-wise weaving. The borders are decorated with oblique patterns and detailed motifs. The main beauty of the Paithani saree, however, comes in at the pallu which is covered in intricately embroidered or woven designs depicting a variety of traditional motifs. Large peacocks are the most traditional motif, but others such as leaves, lotuses and trees might be used. Often, artistic renditions of wedding scenes or scenes inspired by the Ajanta cave drawings are depicted. In Paithani sarees the pallu is the main center of attention and displays the most gorgeous art and patterns.
In certain sections of Maharashtrian society, women don’t buy Paithani saree fabrics but have to make them. A girl who possessed the skill of weaving Paithani fabrics was once considered highly accomplished. Nowadays, this tradition has waned somewhat as even the most traditional families now simply buy Paithani saree styles through retail shops or from the artisans. In fact, when it comes to the modern and trendy Paithani sarees, online shopping is fast becoming the preferred method of purchasing, especially amongst people residing outside of Maharashtra.
Utsav Fashion, a leading online store, offers a wide range of Paithani Sarees, Banarasi saris and other accessories. The site has a user-friendly interface, where you can make online purchases of ethnic apparel and offer speedy delivery across many countries the globe over.
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