Hello ladies! How’s it going at your end? Depending on which part of the country you are in, you’re either wishing the heatwave just ended or that the rains gave some respite so you could at least take an evening walk in the park. But one thing that has the entire nation stop and take notice of was the big fat Bollywood wedding of Alia and Ranbeer. We could not help but take notes of every outfit she wore for the different ceremonies. But one thing that stood out for us was the simple yet thoughtful wedding ensemble. Did you all see how beautifully Alia Bhatt customised her off-white wedding saree blouse to reflect things that are important to her? The butterflies, flowers, and ferns were indeed telling a story to the curious and interested.
This got us thinking. Even with the sarees and dupattas picked off the shelf, how much does the landscape and culture of the place influence the prints and embroideries? Fashion is supposed to have taken inspiration from life. Art, architecture, and craft seem like the obvious big sources of this inspiration. Is this a phenomenon that we see across the board? Does the architectural brilliance of the temples in Tamil Nadu have anything to do with the silk sarees from Kanchi? Are the bright, colourful embroidered sarees, a reflection of what the desert terrain of Rajasthan wishes it were?
So here we are, exploring the patterns we see in sarees from India, especially the ones coming out of our home - Banaras.
TEMPLE BORDERS AND KANJEEVARAM SAREES
In Kanjeevaram Sarees, you see gold or silver borders on both sides. These borders usually are high contrasts to the pallu and the main body of the saree. The borders, body, and pallu, are woven separately and joined later. This technique is referred to as the Korvai method.
It is very common to see noticeable motifs of mango, leaves, flowers and even mythological figures from the scriptures.
What fascinates us is the temple border itself. The temple border is a pattern that has been inspired by the structure of the main gopuram or the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. Marry the geometric triangles signifying the gopuram in the border with the patterns on the walls of the temple as butta and you have yourself a classic Kanjeevaram saree.
STORIES AND KALAMKARI SAREES
'Kalamkari' is made of two Persian words - Qalam (pen) and Kari (craftsmanship). The Kalam used in kalamkari painting is a pen made of bamboo reed, with a piece of cloth rolled over it and secured with cotton thread. Typically, there are 2 types of kalams, one for drawing outlines and the other for filling colours.
A handpainted kalamkari saree showcases detailed and intricate sceneries. It is believed that Kalamkari was first used to depict scenes from scriptures like the Mahabharata, Ramayana, and Bhagavad Gita. They are easy to spot with their earthy colours of natural dyes, and stunning artistry.
FLORALS AND BANARASI SAREES
It seems like florals in woven Banarasi sarees go back to the 17th century when silk weavers from Gujarat resettled in the region, post a famine in 1603. But it is a well-known fact that the butis, bel and buttas saw a spike in the Mughal era. The Banarasi art of weaving was hugely admired by the Mughals and they were also great patrons of nature and flowers. It is no coincidence that we can see it reflected in the Mughal architecture and sculpture.
The floral patterns in the jaal design signify love, fertility, joy, good luck, and success. The intricately woven floral motifs characterise refinement, thoughtfulness, and mature charm, and it gives a fresh essence to the person draping it. What’s interesting is also the use of specific flower designs like marigold and jasmine to create the motifs on wedding sarees since these are deeply linked to the traditional rituals.
Life inspires art and vice versa. And of course, sarees and the designs they bear are no exception to this rule. Have you seen interesting unexpected designs on Banarasi sarees that reflect our modern-day life perhaps? Share your experiences with us. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram or more such interesting stories! :)