Indian sari |

16.40 to 26.25 feet, or 5 to 8 metres, is the length of the fabric that makes up the sari, which is inseparable around the Indian woman. Colourful, draped, pleated, gracefully accompanying a woman’s movements and gestures, this traditional garment that we don’t really understand where it begins and where it ends, set with a bodice that covers the chest and shoulders, defies all the color codes of European wardrobe. Palettes and prints collide to adorn India with its undeniable beauty.

Sari means women’s clothing

The word “sari” comes from the Sanskrit “satika” which means women’s clothing. The origin of the sari dates back to around 2000 BC. JC appears to have already been worn by the women of the Indus Valley Civilization. Adapting to the era, fashion, cults, professions, and regions, this long fabric wraps around the female body in many ways.

Originally, the sari was made of cotton and the weavers used natural dyes such as turmeric for yellow, and indigo for blue or red. It was worn without a bust or petticoat for years. However, with the arrival of the English tied and hats to the neck, urban Indian women adapted their breasts, covering them modestly and wearing skirts to cover their ankles.

Two Indian women wear sari in front of a door in Pondicherry

Valid for all occasions

On her wedding day, Indian women traditionally wear a red silk saree. Benares silk is the most famous. According to legend, Buddha was wrapped at his death in a hand-woven and embroidered silk shroud in the Holy City. The artisanal silk of Kanchipuram in Kerala, the city of 1000 temples, is also very famous.

kanchipuram silk sarees
kanchipuram silk sarees

Black, red or yellow dyed cotton saris are worn during Hajj and there is also a uniform saree for female police officers, female lawyers or female students.

Sarees are always present during family and traditional festivities, but young women in big cities are replacing them, nowadays, with more European clothes.

Indian girl in western dress

Valid at all prices

The price of the sari ranges from 450 rupees (about 5-6 euros) to exorbitant sums, as in the case of French haute couture. The price depends on the material, the fabric (artificial or industrial), the presence and quality of the embroidery, the prints, and even the designer.

The artisanal fabric of the saree is being lost in favor of the industrial fabric

Craft weaving is a practice passed down from generation to generation, but competition for electric loom weaving discourages young people from learning their parents’ trade. A weaver’s salary depends on the yardage woven.

For one hand-made meter in one day, 10 meters are woven by an industrial machine. The craftsmen are paid very little. In the Benares region, 2,000 electric trades were listed at the beginning of this century, and ten years later, there were already 30,000. Over time, artisanal products were intended only for certain wealthy clients.

Craftsman on the loom in Benares

However, in recent times, many advocates of artisans have set up associations/organizations to preserve the expertise and knowledge of Indian artisan weavers.

Haute couture veteran Ramesh Menon founded Save The Loom, an organization that aims to defend the traditional knowledge of artisans in Kerala by providing a steady salary to the artisan and then seeking outlets. And so on save the vein She created a group of Indian female lawyers at a slightly higher price than usual. Each garment bears a mark that tells about the life of an artisan weaver.

in bangalore, tea sari record, is a research and study center with an interdisciplinary approach that allows the implementation of design, preservation and publishing projects in the field of woven and handwoven textiles. Thanks to the growing community of academics, curators and textile enthusiasts, sari pen It strives to preserve the ancient art of telling stories through sari.

Sarees have made their way into Indian haute couture

Raul Mishra and Vaishali Shadangule, two famous Indian fashion designers, have been invited to present their collections in Paris, as part of Haute Couture Week. Through their creations, they continue to bring culture and identity to life and make Indian artisans and weavers work. Vaishali declares that it is necessary “Keep the spirit of this craft intact, for as long as it was conceived.”

High fashion sarees

Sabyasachi Mukherjee, another Indian fashion designer, designed the embroidered tulle saree that Natasha Poonawala wore during the Met Gala 2022, the famous ‘fashion’ event in New York.

So many ways to wear a sari

It is said that the saree can be adapted to any occasion. According to textile specialist Rta Kapur Chishti, there are 108 ways to fold a saree, all of which are documented in her book Sari: Tradition and Beyond A few of them are educated in a Sari design studio called “Sari School”. Each of these 108 routes is unique to at least one of the 15 states I’ve traveled to in India in my 20 years of research.

The Sari Series, a non-profit initiative, presents a digital anthology documenting regional Indian curtains through 80 short films.

draped in saree Bharatanatyam in Tamil Nadu

Dolly Jane, who specializes in draping saree, considers herself capable of wrapping saree in 325 different ways and posts lessons on her social media accounts which are followed by hundreds of thousands of people.

The saree was highlighted by two extraordinary ladies

Two extraordinary ladies, each a feminist in its own way, recorded the sari in Indian history and mythology.

Draupadi, bold, intelligent, is one of the heroines of the epic Mahabharata.

Daughter of King Drupada of Panchala, she married Arjuna, one of the five Pandava brothers. But when she arrives at her in-laws, her mother-in-law declares that she must also be a wife to her husband’s brothers.

Draupadi becomes the queen of a wonderful and enchanting palace built by Maya, the spirit of the forest. This marvel arouses violent jealousy, especially that of the Pandavas’ cousin, Prince Duryodhan, the eldest of the hundred sons of the Kauravas.

One day, Prince Duryodhan invited the Pandavas and Draupadi family to his castle. Yudhisthir, one of Draupadi’s husbands, is invited to play a game of dice and finds himself immersed in a hellish scheme in which he always loses. Judithether bets without being able to stop, first the money from the coffers of the kingdom, then the palace, then the kingdom, then his brothers and finally himself.

Prince Duryodhan offers him to return everything he took from him, against his wife Draupadi to play. Thus Duryodhan made Queen Draupadi his slave. This was brought by force, pulled by his hair, in front of the assembly and Duryodhan, Dussasan, his little brother, was ordered to undress.

Dussasan tries to undress Draupadi
Dussasan tries to undress Draupadi

Dosasan then grabs the end of Draupadi’s sari to remove it from her and thus expose her nakedness to the eyes of the entire assembly, as a final humiliation. Then the collapsed queen remembers the words of the witch who predicted her future: “In the face of adversity, focus on someone who loves you » (Palace of Illusions, Chitra Banerjee Devakaroni, page 341, Philippe Pique 2011 edition).

Draupadi closes his eyes and an image of his friend Krishna’s smiling face comes to his mind. When she reopened it, she was still dressed, and fainted tiredly at her feet, after dismantling miles of cloth. Angrily and humiliatingly, I cursed the community gathering: You will all die in the battle that will result from this day. Your mothers and wives will cry more than you did.” (Palace of Illusions, Chitra Banerjee Devakaroni, p. 343, Philippe Becker 2011 ed.). To learn more, read the book.

Indira Devi from Coach Bihar

Indira Raji is the only daughter giquad Baroda (1892-1968). Multilingual and educated, she was ready to become a queen.

In 1911, she was betrothed with great fanfare to the much older Maharaja of Gwalior, but after meeting the ostensible young heir of Kush Bihar, Jitendra Narayan, she questioned the marriage and thus defied all mores. She did not see herself living a reclusive life as the second wife of an old husband, when she lived a relatively free life in Baroda and beyond.

After fierce resistance to disagreements among her family, she married Indira Raji de Baroda in August 1913 in London and became Indira Devi de Koch Bihar. Unfortunately, ten years later, her husband died of alcoholism, leaving her alone with five children.

Maharani Indira Devi from Coach Bihar
Indira Devi of Kush Behar by Philip Alexios de Laszlo

Indira Devi became regent of the Kingdom of Koch Behar from 1922 to 1936, while waiting for her eldest son to grow up, and lived in London between 1923 and 1930.

At a time when the life of a widowed woman is considered to be over, she is once again defying tradition and becoming one of the important figures in Anglo-Indian society. After being widowed, Mahrani, who was famous for her great beauty, abandoned European clothing for the sake of the sari, which became fashionable in London.

Passing through Lyon, Indira Devi noticed the white gauze surrounding the lumps of butter. She discovers where it came from and arranges for a silk worker from Lyon to weave the necessary length of fabric to make it a white silk muslin saree.

From that time, you will only wear the plain white woven sari in Lyon. She is referred to as a “wonderful lady of a distinguished character”. In 1930, she returned to live in India.

With the support of her mother, she openly opposed the burda system, a practice that kept women out of men’s view by veiling. Indira Devi, a Maharani of Koch Behar, often appears without a veil.

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