The glory of Maharashtra & the weaver's pride, Paithani saris are said to be hand woven poems in gold and silk.
Weaving a Paithani is a work of Art
…Where the Soul’s Aspiration & Artist’s Inspiration flow out into Form Colour & Texture!
Artisan with careful hand, foot and eye coordination embarks on the journey of weaving each thread that binds elements of life into one golden fabric. The process is long, as sometimes only about 2-3” of border gets woven in a day depending on the complexity of the design. The whole family of the weaver is involved, sharing varied responsibilities pertaining to the weaving process... Not only their livelihood but it is their life & mode of self-expression.
Paithani sarees hold a treasured place in the trousseau of a Maharashtrian bride. In the ancient times it was considered no less than an ornamental treasure & was in fact used as currency… Fine Silk from China with real Gold & Silver yarns were used to weave a Paithani & Romans imported this golden woven fabric in exchange for gold of equal weight.
Even today in many households it is considered as a precious heirloom that is passed on from generation to generation...
- Are Handwoven using Fine Silk & Pure Metals.
- Copper is used to add strength to the Soft Metals.
- These are still considered as one of the Richest Sarees of India.
- It doesn’t lose its Luster with passage of time.
- It doesn’t wear out at the folds.
- It’s a 2,000 year-old weave
- It is Woven using Tapestry Technique
- Takes more than 2-months to a year to weave one sari.
- Handloom offers control over every thread thus making each Paithani saree special and different.
- No two saris can be identical.
An aristocratic drape for the Royals, & aptly popular as Queen of Silks, this craft of Paithani weaving dates back to the Satvahana Dynasty that ruled between the second century BC and the second century AD.
Paithani Saree gets its name from the town in which it originated - Paithan in Aurangabad, Maharashtra, by the river Godavari. The art of Paithani weaving flourished during the era of the Mughals, particularly under the reign of Aurangzeb. who reinvented the traditional paithani & introduced new elements of design. Later, the Nizam of Hyderabad, also an ardent admirer of Paithanis, promoted the art & possibly had a hand in making it survive. Begum Niloufer, from Nizam family, is attributed for her contribution of the motif Parinda (Pheasant bird).
With the advent of the British rule & Industrial Revolution, Paithani weaving industry experienced a setback. To the rescue then came the Peshwas' of Pune who had a special love for the textile & the rich legacy of Paithani was saved yet again! Asawali, a motif of flowering vine is credited to the Peshwa period.
Later, in absence of royal patronage, Paithani remained an ignored textile until the Government together with private enterprises took special interest in its revival.
And now, Paithani is becoming an iconic art of India…
Despite the craft being centuries old, the Paithani sari is still woven in the same traditional manner. It is done with the same tapestry technique as used in the weaving of a Persian rug. Multiple threads of different colours along with gold and silver threads are woven together to form a fascinating piece of silk. The weaving process is complex, begins from choosing raw silk and precious metals to the final product.
- At some point in History, , PAITHANIS were done in Muls and Cottons but somewhere along the line silk took over.
- Mulberry silk from Bangalore and Zari from Surat is used for Weaving a Paithani.
- Silk weighs about 500gms & Zari around 250gms.
- The Zari used is silver mixed with Copper for strength & then plated Gold by dipping in gold Water.
- Colours of Paithani involve usage of vivid colors, tints and tones which are unique to its fabric. & the vegetable dyes are specially prepared for these.
- The dying process too is done in-house.
- Raw silk bundles are washed - a tedious repetitive process to smooth out the last bit of wrinkles & twists in the yarn.
- Then Dyed, using Natural dyes from vegetables, minerals, plants and rocks.
- Yarn is then transferred to the reels (asari) to separate each thread before loading to the loom.
- Followed by Setting up of the loom which itself is a meticulous job & requires careful handling as each thread is mounted to bring out the design, color and details which is then converted into a fabulous fabric.
- A full scale drawing of the motif to be used is prepared & set as the base for weaving to achieve precision n exactness.
- Then begins the Weaving, using soft handmade cotton pins wound with silk of desired colors and zari.
- The weavers use the method of interlocking when more than one base color is used. A particular colour thread is used length-wise and another colour is used width-wise while weaving, creating a play of colour as light reflects off it and the saree appears to change its colour giving a kaleidoscopic effect.
Designs n Motifs
Available in two varieties – Traditional Paithani and Brocade Paithani, this ancient textile unites entire elements of life in the form of blessings and protection to the wearer.
The Traditional Paithani -
- 28-inch Pallav.
- Less Intricate Design.
- Takes a lesser time to weave.
Brocade Paithanis –
- Complex Pallav Design
- 40 inches Pallav
- Requires a far more skilled weaver.
- Woven with extreme caution as the silk threaded sticks are very fragile.
Motifs are Traditional, inspired from figures in Ajanta Caves are derived from nature that forms an essential part of human life.
- The body of a Paithani Saree has bootis but highlight is the Border design & Pallav, characterizing the Paithani Style.
- Motifs are usually Large in Scale & Colours used are Multiple & Bold, forming its unique feature.
- Popular Pallav motifs include Mor (Peacock), Bangudi Mor (Bangle with Four Peacocks and Lotus), Munia (Parrot), Ajanta Lotus, Asavali (Vines and Flowers), Kairi (Mango shape) and Akruti (Almond shape).
- Motifs of musical instruments like Tabla, Shehnai, Sambal and Tanpura are also used.
- For Borders, Narali (Coconut) and Pankha (fan shape) motifs can be seen.
Colours & Hues of Paithanis….
- Natural dyes.
- Lustre comes from the use of Zari over Resham Base.
- Basic colors used such as lavender, red, purple, ochre, sky blue, Prussian blue, magenta, peach pink, royal blue, violet red, Pasila, Gujri and Mirani.
- Each saree usually has two dominating colours – one on the Body and the other on the Border.
- Pallav is always highly Brocaded & hence in Gold (Silver/ Copper plated Gold)
Care & Maintainence
- Wrap it in soft cloth or mul.
- Keep it away from harsh sunlight.
- Do not wash it after every use.
- Dry clean only if necessary.
Paithani Sarees are meant for the one with a discerning eye, an impeccable taste and refined senses....
Rich and elegant, it adds grace to the one who adorns it with love...