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Modern Face Of A Traditional Art Weave

Author: shiva

Maheshwar is a fort town in Khargone district of Madhya Pradesh, India, on the banks of the Narmada river, very close to the Agra-Mumbai National Highway and not very far from Indore, the commercial hub of the state.


It is also home to the famed Maheshwari handlooms. Given patronage during Holkar queen Rani Ahilyabai\'s rule, Maheshwari handloom products have flourished since. The range of these handlooms includes silk and cotton sarees, punjabi suits, chudidars, drapes and other home furnishings.


Maheshwari sarees have a lot of traditional designs especially from historical times, when queen Ahilyabai had encouraged the use of designs engraved on the walls of the Maheshwar fort. Designs on the borders of these sarees have generated names like bugdi kinar, phool kinar, chatai kinar, kahar kinar etc for them.


Raw materials, mainly cotton, silk and zari, employed for these saris, come from different parts of India. Cotton comes from Coimbatore, Silk from Bangalore and Zari from Surat.


The process in the making of a saree involves several stages. First the raw material be it cotton or silk is dyed by putting the yarn in huge vats of boiling water and adding the desired colour. The yarn is stirred continuously for uniform spread of colour. Napthol is added to provide fastness or stability to the applied colour. There are one or two more wash cycles to remove the excess colour and any impurities sticking to the yarn. Then the yarn is dried in shade and sent for further process.


The dyed yarn received in bundles requires being untangled or freed, so that the weaving process can be smooth. This is achieved by reeling in through the help of a charka on large cylindrical drums for warp and small bobbins for weft. Silk is delicate in the raw form and needs to be wound carefully for which an octagonal metal drum and some accompanying arrangements is generally used. The master weaver decides whether the warp has to have single or double fibre thread and it is during this process itself that the same is created on the cylinder.


The next stage involves weaving on the loom. Earlier heavy pit looms were used, which were fixed in pits and the weaver operated peddles, sitting on the edge of the pit mouth. In recent times, they have been replaced by the much lighter frame looms which can be arranged on any even surface, dismantled and re-joined easily and have better overhead arrangements to get a better finishing for the fabric. The thread from the dobby mechanism on the loom provides for incorporating the design during the warp and weft weaving. If the design is special or complicated, then the process becomes more elaborate and time consuming.


The completed saree needs to be cut to the desired size (usually 11 feet), since the warp has the length of three or more sarees. It is then folded, neatly packed and kept ready for dispatch.      


Irrespective of caste and religion, most inhabitants of Maheshwar are engaged in the making of these handlooms, especially sarees.


There are a lot of Maheshwari cotton saris with distinctive designs involving stripes, checks and floral borders. The Pallu is particularly noted for the colourful stripes in colours such as green, pink, magenta, mauve, violet etc. which lend the fabric a mesmerising look. The border is also adorned by trendy designs and themes such as the Maheshwar fort and similar subjects.


Some Sarees that are popular in the market find mention below.

Elegant geometrical block printed motifs on the Maheswari cotton sari having a zari patti border is a refreshing change and makes comfortable wear through the day. It suits corporate office goers, college professors and those engaged in similar professions. It is also preferred for festivals and traditional occasions.

Maheswari silk sarees decorated with thread embroidery, kundans and beads are stylish and could be worn for conferences, parties and special functions.

The printed Maheswari Sico sari with its patch border and zari pallu is most alluring wear and an eye-catching proposition for parties, social gatherings, corporate events. 

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About the Author

Shiva is associated with Unnati Silks in a professional capacity and contributes regularly on ethnic fabrics. You may contact on 040-64555251 or 97000 57744.

Unnati Silks has trendy designs, attractive patterns, in vivid colours and pleasing combinations in its large collection of 300 plus varieties of ethnic Sarees and Salwar Kameez.