Paithani Sarees

Brocaded Paithani Handloom Sari from Maharashtra with Zari-Woven Peacocks on Anchal
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$425
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$495
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$425
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$506.25
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$675  (25% off)
Weaver Azeem Ahmed
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$525
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The Paithani Sari

Paithani sari, an unstitched length of textile produced at Paithan, an ancient centre of textile weaving with at least a two and a half millenniums long past, the Indian woman’s most characteristic wear and her universal distinction unsurpassed in grace and exoticism, sometimes revealing a sense of divinity, is one of the most distinguished classes of Indian saris equaling in merit, beauty and lustre any of the Banarasi brocade, Patola, Ikat, Vichitrapuri, Kanjivaram, Chanderi or those crafted using exclusive yarns, Mysore, Munga or mulberry silks, or others. A small town some 55 kms south of Aurangabad in Maharashtra Paithan, now re-gaining its prestige that it had lost, especially under the European industrialization, was once one of the major industrial and trading centers on the main highway connecting Central India with coastal region of Gujarat, the seat of the main ports to trade with the Middle East and Europe.

Technical maturity in conceiving a sari’s various parts : field, border and pallu – end-part, choice of material and dyes, as also motifs, style of patterning and a rare ethnic touch that various tribes, especially Banjara, associated with the industry now for long infused into it, impart to a Paithani sari its rare distinction. A Paithani sari uses three varieties of silk from ordinary less expensive raw Charkha softened using caustic wash to the expensive finely spun even, smooth and shiny silk with a high level of lustre, elasticity and a certain degree of toughness, as also the imported Chinese silk, besides the fine pure gold and gold-plated silver zari. Initially it was pure gold with a bit of copper blended for strength; now it is mostly gold-plated pure silver – an affordable metal. About 925 meters thread is obtained from 10 grams of metal which by itself speaks of the thread’s fineness.

More common motifs that a Paithani sari uses on pallu – end-part, and sometimes on border are Mor or Bangadi Mor – a peacock, or a peacock in a bangle or ring, pairs of parrots, or parrots-mynah, geese, pheasant bird, birds of other breeds, lotus, cotton-flower, flowing vines, clusters of three leaves, small motifs like circles, stars, coins and others. Abounding in the flavor of soil these motifs evolved over long past and speak for Paithan artisans’ love for the land, nature and its traditions. Located close to Ajanta Caves on the same trade route Paithan used many of the Buddhist motifs in designing its textiles while many figures in Ajanta murals are seen wearing Paithani designs. Now other design-motifs are also used, the border in a traditional Paithani sari was conceived with a course of oblique squares running across the whole length. Some saris are classified by the motifs they use. A sari with Bangadi Mor motif is classified as Bangadi Mor sari, one with Munia – parrot, motif, as Munia sari, and one with a multi-coloured lotus motif, as Kamal sari.

Paithani saris use a wide range of dyes from yellow, red, magenta, green – yellowish or olive, shades of blue – sky, peacock or ocean blue, purple, lavender, peach, or pearl to blends of two colors, such as violet and red, black and white, or black and red; however, as a rule in Paithani sari a dye is singly used, one for warp, and another, for weft, usually creating against light kaleidoscopic effect. Like a few of the motifs some classes of saris are also identified from the dyes they use : Kalichandrakala is a black sari with red border, Raghu, one with parrot green, and Shirodak, pure white. A Paithani sari is a plain weave with weft thread used for figuring or patterning on simple tapestry technique. No extra weft is used in patterning. Colored silk or zari threads are interlocked with weft threads for discovering desired figure or form.

For border, wefts, which usually consist of zari, are separate threads interlocked with the weft threads for the field. Sometimes colored silk threads are added to border for laying the ground designs. Pallu is also crafted with added warp threads interlocked with main warps. Requiring greater skill in a Paithani sari pallu and borders are usually crafted by master weavers. Woven with two zari-threads together the zari weaving in a Paithani sari reveals a mirror’s look. With standard 160 ends and 170 pricks per inch even the silk weaving yields an exceptionally compact surface with mirror-like sheen. The entire exercise being tedious and time-taking and everything carried out by hand, a Paithani sari takes from 18 to 24 months to complete.