The sari considered as cloth
Saris are woven with one plain end (the end that is concealed inside the wrap), two long decorative borders running the length of the sari, and a one to three foot section at the other end which continues and elaborates the length-wise decoration. This end is called the pallu; it is the part thrown over the shoulder in the Nivi style of draping. It is one of the most visible sections of the sari and is woven and decorated "for show".
In past times, saris were woven of silk or cotton. The rich could afford finely-woven, diaphanous silk saris that, according to folklore, could be passed through a finger-ring. The poor wore coarsely woven cotton saris. All saris were handwoven and represented a considerable investment of time or money.
Simple hand-woven villagers' saris are often decorated with checks or stripes woven into the cloth. The borders and the pallu are defined only by the use of contrasting thread in the warp or weft. Inexpensive saris were also decorated with block printing using carved wooden blocks and vegetable dyes, or tie-dyeing, known in India as bhandani work.
More expensive saris
had elaborate geometric,
floral, or figurative ornament
created on the loom, as
part of the fabric. Sometimes
warp and weft threads were
tie-dyed and then woven,
patterns. Sometimes threads
of different colors were
woven into the base fabric
an ornamented border, an elaborate pallu, and often, small repeated accents in the cloth itself. These accents are called buttis or bhutties (spellings vary). For fancy saris, these patterns could be woven with gold or silver thread, which is called zari work. Modern zari work is usually executed with glittering synthetic fibers rather than real gold or silver thread (made by wrapping gold or silver around a base thread).
Sometimes the saris were further decorated, after weaving, with various sorts of embroidery. Resham work is embroidery done with colored silk thread. Zardozi embroidery uses gold and silver thread and sometimes pearls and precious stones. Cheap modern versions of zardozi use synthetic metallic thread and imitation stones, such as fake pearls and Swarovski crystals.
The free-hanging end, the pallu, could be additionally embellished with punkra or punchra work, in which part of the weft is removed and the warp threads are knotted into elaborate patterns, sometimes decorated with beads or precious stones.
In modern times, saris are increasingly woven on mechanical looms and made of artificial fibers, such as polyester, nylon, or rayon, which do not require starching or ironing. They are printed by machine, or woven in simple patterns made with floats across the back of the sari. This can create an elaborate appearance on the front, while looking ugly on the back. The punchra work is imitated with inexpensive machine-made tassel trim.
Hand-woven, hand-decorated saris are naturally much more expensive than the machine imitations. While the over-all market for handweaving has plummeted (leading to much distress among Indian handweavers), hand-woven saris are still popular for weddings and other grand social occasions.
Types of saris
Though each region in the Indian subcontinent has developed over the centuries its own unique sari style, the following are the well known varieties, distinct on the basis of fabric, weaving style or motifs:
Venkatagiri Andhra Pradesh
Gadwal Andhra Pradesh
Guntur Andhra Pradesh
Narayanpet Andhra Pradesh
Mangalagiri Andhra Pradesh
Chettinad Tamil Nadu
Sri Lankan Saris
Sri Lankan women wear saris in many styles. However, two ways of draping the sari are popular and tend to dominate; the Indian style (classic nivi drape) and the Kandyan style (or 'osaria' in Sinhalese). The Kandyan style is generally more popular in in the hill country region of Kandy from which the style gets its name. Though local preferences play a role, most women decide on style depending on personal preference or what is perceived to be most flattering for their body.
Contrast this Kandyan example with what Sri Lankan's refer to as ' Indian style'. The Indian style generally consits of an uninterruped flow of sari fabric over the stomach and shoulders, whereas the Kanyan (osaria) style bares more of the mid section and is partially tucked in at the front (similar to the pleated rosette used in the 'Darivian' style noted earier in the artice) with the final tail of the sari being neatly pleated rather than free-flowing.
Origins and history
The word 'sari' is believed to derive from the Sanskrit word 'sati', which means strip of cloth. This evolved into the Prakrit 'sadi' and was later anglicised into 'sari'.
Some versions of the history of Indian clothing trace the sari back to the Indus valley civilization, which flourished in 2800-1800 BCE. One ancient statue shows a man in a draped robe which some sari researchers believe to be a precursor of the sari.
Ancient Tamil poetry, such as the Silappadhikaram and the Kadambari by Banabhatta, describes women in exquisite drapery. This drapery is believed to be a sari. In the Natya Shastra (an ancient Indian treatise describing ancient dance and costumes), the navel of the Supreme Being is considered to be the source of life and creativity. Hence the stomach of the dancer is to be left unconcealed, which some take to indicate the wearing of a sari.
Other sources say that everyday costume consisted of a dhoti or lungi (sarong), combined with a breast band and a veil or wrap that could be used to cover the upper body or head. Some argue that the two-piece Kerala mundum neryathum (a sarong-like wrap plus a top piece) is a survival of ancient Indian clothing styles, and that the one-piece sari is a modern innovation, created by combining the two pieces of the mundum neryathum.
It is generally accepted that wrapped sari-like garments, shawls, and veils have been worn by Indian women for a long time, and that they have been worn in their current form for hundreds of years.
One point of particular controversy is the history of the choli, or sari blouse, and the petticoat.
Some researchers state that these were unknown before the British arrived in India, and that they were introduced to satisfy British ideas of modesty. Previously, women only wore the one, draped cloth and casually exposed the upper body and breasts.
Other historians point to much textual and artistic evidence for various forms of breastband and upper-body shawl.
It is possible that the researchers arguing for a recent origin for the choli and the petticoat are extrapolating from South India, where it is indeed documented that in some areas, women wore only the sari and exposed the upper part of the body. Poetic references from works like Shilappadikaram indicate that during the sangam period in ancient South India, a single piece of clothing served as both lower garment and head covering, leaving the bosom and midriff completely uncovered. Even today, women in some rural areas do not wear cholis.
See also Dhoti
See also Salwar Kameez
|The above article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/dhoti). 1/2/06 Modified by Apparel Search.|