The Paithani Tradition
If it’s P, it has to be PAITHANI.
When I was a little girl, I used to think the Paithani sari was rather unattractive. It’s bold colours and booties were coarse compared to the fine, delicate Benarasi or the exquisite, rich temple saris of Kanjeevaram. But over the years, having seen them worn at various weddings, complemented by the appropriate jewellry, I realised that this sari can be truly stunning.
The sari gets its name from Paithan, a small town in Aurangabad district, but there are several other places where this sari is now made.
What I really love about this saree is the unique double shaded look known as “shot silk “. I also love the strong distinctive borders and brocade pallu with motifs inspired by the paintings of Ajanta and other natural elements. Here too, like many other saris, the border and pallu are woven separately and attached to the main body of the sari.
In the original sari, the thread that is used for the borders, booties and pallu was of pure gold but today this would make the sari completely un-affordable. So modern weavers either use silver thread or silk thread that looks like gold.
Meera Mehta an award winning textile designer who has revived this craft, showed me her collection of saris that she had commissioned her weavers to make. These are truly unique , closely following the traditions of this weave using traditional colours and long forgotten styles. For instance :
[Tweet “Did you know that a Paithani tradition was to weave in a saying or homily in the pallu ?”]
If you do want to see her original works of art ( really they can be called that) you will need to make a prior appointment to visit her studio located in the bylanes of Mumbai’s Fort district. This may be a bit of a fiddle, but it is definitely worth it.
More affordable are the commercially retailed ones sold in almost every sari shop in India that keeps Bridal collections. Undoubtedly, the Paithani is an heirloom piece that should be in every sari wearing bride’s trousseau.
Do any of you have a favourite fabric or weave ? Would love to hear from you in the comments below.
What will Q bring? Watch this space tomorrow for another tradition of Indian textiles.
Disclaimer : Once again, please forgive me for any errors or omissions. I am neither a textile designer nor a historian.