A Maharashtrian “to be Bride” is always looking for the ever-shining Paithani Silk Sarees. Known for its rich ornamental zari pallu and sophisticated style, it has never failed to steal the heart of women in India and around the world. The softness of the Paithani Saree, distinguishing weaving techniques and extraordinary motifs make it stand out in everyone’s Traditional Silk Saree collection. It is also celebrated and adored by Fashion Designers around the world for its Kaleidoscopic Effect. In this blog, we have included everything you need to know about Paithani Sarees.
Let’s find out more about this Gem which carries around the history of weaving and motifs with it.
The Origin of Paithani Silk Sarees
The 2000 years old weave derived its name from Paithan, a town situated in Aurangabad District of Maharashtra. The development of the Paithani Silk saree actually started way back during the Satavahana Empire, under the rule of Shalivahana in the capital city – Paithan. Paithan was called ‘Pratishthana’ at the bank of the river Godavari in Marathawada, about 50 km from Aurangabad.
At that time, It was formerly a major international commercial centre for silk and zari. In some parts of India, people celebrate and regard Paithani Silk as an example of Shree Krishna’s respect for Draupadi in Mahabharata. It was where he tore his precious Pitambar Cloth and tied it to Draupadi’s bleeding finger when she unknowingly cut her finger.
The Mughal Connection
The Peshwas, Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, and the Nizams are significant contributors to Paithani’s development in modern times. In the 17th century, the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb patronised the Paithani silk weavers by announcing a new motif known as Aurangzebi. He forbade weavers from weaving ‘Jamdanis’ outside of his court and punished any who defied him.
The Nizam of Hyderabad later ordered vast amounts of Paithani silk in the 19th and 20th centuries. Paithani may have survived thanks to the support of the Nizam of Hyderabad’s household. The credit for creating the Parinda theme (Pheasant bird) goes to Begum Niloufer, a Nizam family member.
Paithani Silk In The Peshwa Dynasty
Peshwas highly appreciated the Paithani textiles. Later, during the Peshwa dynasty, Paithani’s production centre shifted from Paithan to Yeola (a village in Nasik District), a significant turning point in its history. Paithani, like other Indian textiles, suffered a setback when the industrial revolution and British domination in India flourished. The progressive dwindling in the number of Paithan’s looms have left just a handful to date.
Raghuji Naik, a Sardar from Yeola, and Shyamji Walji, a trader, brought a few weavers from Paithan to Yeola in the late 19th century. Paithani weaving has resurfaced in Yeola since 1980. Yeola Shalu was once primarily made in Yeola. From 1984 to 1985, the selling of Paithani sarees increased, and Yeola village became the primary commercial centre for Paithani weaving. Currently, one can find Paithani saree and fabric weavers in the Maharashtra districts – Paithan and Yeola.
The Life of Paithani Weavers
Modern technologies may have supplanted human skills. However, no machine-made fabric can match the skilled craftspeople of Maharashtra’s hand-woven Traditional Paithani sarees. Traditionally, the weaving of Paithani sarees was the legacy of four weaver communities: the Kshatriya, the Koshti, the Shali, and the Nagpuri. Men were in charge of weaving on the loom, while women, children, and the elderly assisted in the pre and post-processing.
This difficult and time-consuming technique passes from one generation to the next in a family. At the age of ten to eleven years, children begin assisting in modest jobs and, as time passes, they learn to assist in weaving.
Paithani Silk – A source of income to countless families
These days, several training institutions teach the art of making Paithani Sarees. Here, a veteran weaver instructs younger men in the surroundings and then hires them as weavers. This has enabled individuals from many walks of life to become engaged in this great trade. So, when it comes to everything you need to know about Paithani Sarees, it is important to consider the effects it brings to countless families in India.
All of the families involved in this skill rely entirely on Paithani weaving for a living. Except for those who are just starting out. This is also due to the fact that saree production is ongoing throughout the year. The production time ranges from 10 days to 1 or 2 years, depending on the skill of the craft.
Young men in the villages and surrounding areas also learned this craft in order to subsequently establish their own manufacturing. A taught individual then educates his other family members, allowing him and his dependents to live a long and healthy life. Another change is that males are no longer hesitant to enlist the help of their spouses and sisters in this endeavour.
The third element is that the region of producing Paithani sarees is expanding rapidly throughout villages and towns. Paithani has its busiest seasons in the summer and late winter, when India’s wedding season is in full swing.
The Weaving Process of Paithani Sarees
You can distinguish a Paithani by its oblique square pattern borders and a padar. There are plain and spotted styles to choose from, Single-colored and kaleidoscope-coloured patterns, among others, are popular. The Kaleidoscopic appearance happens by weaving one colour longitudinally and another colour widthwise. It’s a simple weave with weft figure patterns based on tapestry principles. Paithanis have traditionally featured a coloured cotton muslin field with a lot of extra zari patterning.
Paithani weaving was revived with an emphasis on export, with sarees created primarily for the most affluent customers. Paithani transitioned from cotton to a silk foundation. Weavers use Silk to make weft patterns and borders and cotton to make the body of the cloth. Paithani now has no sign of cotton. But now, Yeola (Nasik) and Paithan are already purchasing silk from Bangalore.
Categories of Paithani Silk
While speaking about everything you need to know about Paithani Sarees, its Silk threads are of three categories: Charkha, low-cost and inconsistent silk; Ciddle-Gatta: Silk of excellent quality, thin shear, gleaming, smooth, and even; Silk from China: It is quite costly to use. This raw silk is cleaned with caustic soda, coloured in the appropriate colours, and the threads are separated with care.
Gold threads are employed in double and one of the finest varieties, resulting in a tightly woven surface that resembles a mirror. Zari is a silver-coloured metallic yarn. Originally Yeola was the hub of zari-making but now, Surat is quickly becoming the latest hub. Paithani was originally made using zari made from pure gold. Today, however, silver is the most cost-effective alternative.
Differentiation of Paithani Sarees As Per Weightage
Depending on the weight of the silk and zari used, a single saree might weigh up to 1.45 kg. The pegs or drums are tied in a ball at the back of the loom to make a warp. It is for two saree pieces and measures around 11.5 metres in length. The plain border has additional weft figuring threads, whereas coloured silk is generally for figure work.
Due to the differences in the weft for the borders and the body, three shuttle weaving is used, two for the border and one for the simple body. As a result, the border looks to have been weaved independently and then sewn to the sari’s body.
A distinct padar warp is sometimes twisted on the body. Weavers use exquisite silk to make the final item. Only zari warp threads produce a golden base on which angular, vivid silk motifs are woven in the interlocking weft, giving it a tapestry impression that is incredibly attractive.
Paithani saris are silk sarees with no additional weft that forms figures. Weavers use a basic tapestry process to create the figure weave and they do it in different ways: Split tapestry weave, Interlocking Method, Dobe-tailing Method, Kadiyal border saree and Kad/Ekdhoti. The Narali and Pankhi are two forms of a boundary.
Only a master weaver can weave the complex inlay border pathways. Regardless of the saree’s colour, weavers weave the borders and padar with zari.
Motifs & Colours
Types of Motifs on Paithani Sarees
While speaking about everything you need to know about Paithani Sarees, motifs play an important role in the importance of many heritage silk sarees and heirlooms. In the case of Paithani Sarees, because of their closeness to the Ajanta caves, the woven Paithani motifs bear the influence of Buddhist paintings.
The Motifs in the Saree usually include: The Bangadi Mor, peacock in bangle, The Popat-Maina, The Humarparinda, pheasant, The Anar Vel, The Narali motif (coconut) which is common, Small motifs like Circles, Stars, Kuyri, Rui Phool, Kalas Pakhhli, Chandrakor, Clusters of 3 Leaves, The Kamal or Lotus Flower on which Buddha sits or stands, The Hans (swan) motif, The Ashrafi motif, The Asawalli (flowering vines), became very popular during the Peshwa’s period, the Vine and Flowers (Asavali), Squarish floral motifs (the akruti).
While the Motifs at the end of the Sarees (Padar) include:
Mor, a peacock, Asawalli, a flower pot with a flowering plant, Muthada, a geometrical design, Laher, design is done in the centre to strengthen the zari, Barwa, 12 strands of a ladder; 3 strands on each side, Panja, a geometrical flower-like motif, most often outlined in red, Muniya, a kind of parrot used in borders and always found in green colour with an occasional red touch at the mouth.
Types of Colours in Paithani Sarees
Normally, the Paithani is available in a variety of colours, some of which are pure and others that arise from the weaving of threads of various colours. The primary colour in the border and Pallav is usually distinct from the Body Colour.
Yeola weavers colour their own yarns which come from Bangalore. Because of their advantageous qualities, weavers prefer to use vat dyes and acid dyes. The government gives a shade card of 400 examples, which serves as a collection from which the customer may pick.
Copper vessels come in use for bleaching and dyeing where the weavers mix 20 to 30 grams of colour powder with water to get per kg of yarn. Coconut oil gives silk a velvety finish. Using copper rods, weavers submerge the yarns in a dye bath for 30 to 40 minutes. They then remove & clean the yarns many times with water after which, they hang them to dry in the shade.
Vegetable dyes’ historical Primary colours included: Morphankhi (cerulean), Vangi (aubergine purple), Uddani (a fainter black), Sankirodak (white), Samprus (green-red), Pophali (chrome yellow), Pasila, Neeligunji (blue), Motia (pale pink), Aboli (pale bittersweet), Firozi (cyan), Gujri (black and white), Kalichandrakala (black) and Mirani.
Conclusion for everything you need to know about Paithani Sarees:
These colours & Motifs makes Paithani sarees an enduring experience as well as both strong and elegant just like a Queen. That’s why Paithani Sarees are the queen of silk sarees. Women pass it down as an heirloom for several generations. Even when the silk wears out, you can burn the border and pallav of the saree and retrieve pure gold from its zari work— a courteous saree’s parting gift. 🙂 So, there you go, now you know everything you need to know about Paithani Sarees.
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