Saris are quite the special thing for Indian women and when draped well, they can look gorgeous. Handloomed saris are especially preferred among women, given that they’ve been around for quite a while. Due to its long existence in India, handloom saris are looked upon as a heritage textile.
The History Of Handloom Saris of India
India has had a long and rich weaving history. This could lead us to believe that handlooming originated in India. However, the concept of weaving was in fact introduced by the Mesopotamians. The first handloom was designed almost 2000 years ago. Today, more than 6 million people are involved in the production of its saris.
Weaving of fabric using the handloom is a very labour-intensive process, requiring its weavers to be skilled and diligent in their work. The process involves interlacing yarn, or thread, with one another to turn these threads into fabric. Two common terms applied in the process of weaving are the ‘warp’(or tana) and the ‘weft’(or bana). The longitudinal warp threads are held in place while the transverse weft is interlaced at a right angle through the warp. This not only forms the threads into a piece of cloth but the art of interlacing these threads can create some exquisite patterns and interesting shades of colour that we see on some sari fabrics.
Types of Handloom Saris in India
There is a range of handloom saris available to choose from, cotton being the traditional fabric of India and also one of its oldest. Other popular hand-loomed saris include the Kanchipuram silk, Banarasi silk and Chanderi silk. Textiles play a key role during celebrations, with some handlooms being curated to fit these occasions through intricate designs. Some Banarasi saris, for instance, carry mythological scenes on their pallu.
Kanchipuram silk comes from the Kanchipuram region of Tamil Nadu and is popular among South Indians. These saris are made using pure mulberry silk thread. Banarasi saris, on the other hand, hail from the city of Varanasi, or the city of Banaras which is a thriving textile industry. The city of Banaras is known to carry some of the finest saris in India. With their luxuriant gold and silver brocades and magnificent embroidery, these saris are popular selections for bridal wear. Then, there are textured saris such as the Chanderi saris. These are traditionally lightweight in nature and have a shimmer to it. Arising from Madhya Pradesh, Chanderi saris come in silk, cotton and silk cotton.
Some of these opulent and unique designs require a high level of skill and time and just a single sari could take between two to three days to complete. Surreptitiously replicating hand-loomed saris are the machine-made ones and they could come just as close. If you respect the authenticity of your garments, it’s important to know your source. Hand-loomed saris will mostly be marked by a handloom tag. Additionally, the flip side of the pallu will replicate the front and will not carry as many loose threads hanging off it. Considering the amount of labour that goes into making handloom saris, you’d surely want to invest our dollar into the right industry and ensure that it ends up at its source!
Photo by RubyGoes