A saree is traditional attire in our country. From the 5th to the 6th Century, it has been around. A silk saree is very dear to anyone and everyone. It is the queen of textiles with all the royalness and sophistication. Maheswari Silk sarees are considered to be one of the purest forms of silk sarees. The weavers of this type of fabric are found in a town called Maheshwar, near the banks of river Narmada. In the 1767-1795 period, Rani Ahilyabai Holkar (1767-1795) ruled this handloom weaving hub, gaining fame for her fearlessness and strength. In Kautilya’s Arthshastra, the age-old weaving setup is mentioned.
The queen herself designed the first saree of this type. She hired skilled and competent weavers from Surat and Mandu. The females of the Malwa court would wear exquisite nine-yard nauvari saris made by them. These sarees were also used for gifting purposes to royal guests. It also gained popularity after the Maharani started this tradition of gifting and also cultivated this art. Maheshwari saris have always exuded a sense of dignity and elegance due to their rich texture and premium quality!
The advent of factories and new and inexpensive clothes on the market gradually led to the decline of weaving traditions. It is believed that Richard Holkar and Sally Holkar, sons and daughters-in-law of Maharaja Yeshwant Rao Holkar II, are to blame for the revival of Maheshwari saris. To provide employment opportunities to weavers, especially women, and revive the centuries-old tradition of handwoven Maheshwari saris, dupattas, and dress materials, the Rehwa Society was established in 1979. There are approximately 250 weavers and over 1500 looms in the society today.
In the beginning, these Maheswari sarees were made with the finest cotton yarns with motifs inspired by the delicate patterns engraved on the Maheswar fort and temples. Coimbatore cotton and Bangalore silk yarns are blended in today’s saris along with new-fangled and more graceful motifs like rui Phool (cotton flower), chameli (jasmine), Hans (swan) and heera (diamond). Anchal or pallu are reversible and the border is reversible. The borders are weaved with Zari threads sourced directly from Surat. You can find shades like deep brown or tapkeer, golden yellow or aamras and grape colour or angoori tone.
Usually vegetable dyes were used in colouring the fabrics. Around 3-10 days are required to weave one saree. Embroidering the pallu is the most consuming as it takes time to carve out details of the intricate design. The uniqueness of the saree lies in its reversible border which makes it feasible to wear from both sides. This is locally called Bugdi. These sarees are made from cotton imported from Coimbatore in South India, silk from Bangalore, and wool from Australia. In Kolkata, raw materials are processed, and Maheshwar women weave the saree.
While Maheshwari fabrics and saris are known for their simple styles, many popular designers and fashion houses are using them in their collections today. Some of the designers are
- Krishna Mehta: The hotshot designer showcased his collection in Maheswari Silk fabric in AIFW 2017. The theme of this collection was Curious Alice. Models wore colourful trousers, asymmetric jackets, sarees with peplum blouses, and narrow skirts. The outfits were so colourful and eye-catching. The peppy styling, printed patterns, and sequence added oomph to the show and ruled the ramp. The collection had colours like deep pink, lavender and Fuschia with floral motifs having a contemporary touch with a bit of ethnic touch.
- Pratima Pandey: She presented a collection inspired by Dadaist Movement. Creating an encapsulating look with Maheswari silk fabric Pratima stole the show.
Enhance your wardrobe with this enchanting fabric with an age-old tradition. The richness and delicacy will make you fall for it. Happy shopping!