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Wearing a Sari: Gujarati Style (Part 1 of 2)

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    Sarees from different regions of India

    A range of gorgeous sarees come from Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Western Uttar Pradesh and Western Madhya Pradesh. The dominant characteristic of the saree of these regions is obtained by dyeing rather than weaving techniques. In fact, the three major forms of Indian resist-dyeing -- block printing, tie & dye and ikat have evolved here.

    Playing with colour, fabric, weave and embellishments can create an exquisite look to the trousseau wardrobe.

    Sarees from West India:

    1. Bandhani

    - These are sarees created by dyeing the cloth in such a manner that many small resist-dyed 'spots' produce elaborate patterns over the fabric.

    - The traditional bandhani market has shrunk however, because of the rise of low-cost silk-screened imitations and most modern bandhani sarees are made with larger designs and fewer ties than in the past. There are varieties available in two contrasting colours, with borders, end-pieces and one or more large central medallion called a pomcha or padma (lotus flower). Red and black is the most common colour combination but other pairs of colours are also found. For instance, the panetar saree is a Gujarati-Hindu saree of satin weave and Gajji silk with red borders, central medallions and a white body, which may contain regularly spaced red tie-dyed spots.

    - Single colour sarees and odhnis with white spots are also common. The most famous of this type is the Gujarati saree called Garchola It is usually red, but occasionally green, and is divided into a network of squares created by rows of white tie-dyed spots or woven bands of zari. The Garchola is a traditional Hindu and Jain wedding saree, which used to be made of cotton, but is now usually in silk. The number of squares in the saree is ritually significant multiples of 9, 12 or 52.

    2. Patola

    - The most time consuming and elaborate saree created by the western region is the potole (plural patola) which has intricate five colour designs resist-dyed into both warp and weft threads before weaving.

    - Double ikat patola saree is a rare and expensive investment. A cheaper alternative to double ikat patola is the silk ikat saree developed in Rajkot (Gujarat), that creates patola and other geometric designs in the weft threads only.

    3. Gujarati Brocade

    These are extremely expensive and virtually extinct. The main distinguishing characteristics of the Gujarati Brocade Saree:

    - Butis (circular designs) woven into the field in the warp direction instead of the weft, resulting in their lying horizontally instead of vertically on the saree when draped.

    - Floral designs woven in coloured silk, against a golden (woven zari) ground fabric. Although such 'inlay' work is a common feature in many western Deccan silks, the Gujarati work usually has leaves, flowers and stems outlined by a fine dark line.

    4. Embroidered Tinsel Sarees

    - The western region also has a rich embroidered tradition, made famous by ethnic groups such as rabaris and sodha Rajputs.

    - The saree with zardozi, the gold gilt thread embroidery technique, at one time patronised by the Moghul emperors and the aristocracy, is today an inextricable part of a bridal trousseau.

    - Balla tinsel and khari work are the cheaper variations available in metallic embroidery, which have also become quite popular.

    5. Paithani

    - This saree is named after a village near Aurangabad in Maharashtra. Now also woven in the town of Yeola, these sarees use an enormous amount of labour, skill and sheer expanse of material in their creation.

    - Distinctive motifs such as parrots, trees and plants are woven into the saree. The shades vary from vivid magenta, peacock greens and purples. In the pallav, the base is in gold and the pattern is done in silk, giving the whole saree an embossed look.

    6. Chanderi and Maheshwari

    - The Chanderi saree from Madhya Pradesh is light and meant for Indian summers. It is made in silk or fine cotton with patterns taken from the Chanderi temples.

    - The Maheshwari sarees are also both in cotton and silk, usually green or purple with a zari border. The traditional block-printed tussar can also be found in contemporary designs nowadays.

    - Balla tinsel and khari work are the cheaper variations available in metallic embroidery, which have also become quite popular.

    7. Gadwal

    - Gadwal saree is made in cotton in a style influenced by the Banarasi weaves. While the ground of the saree is cotton, there is a loosely attached silk border.

    - Copper or gold-dipped zari is generally used in these sarees. The motifs of the murrugan (peacock) and the rudraksh are popular.

    - Traditional colours for these sarees are earth shades of browns, greys and off-whites. However, brighter shades have been introduced for the North Indian buyer.
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