In Maharashtra, the Paithani saree is considered to be royalty and holds a cherished place in the Maharashtrian bride’s trousseau.
This saree symbolizes the spirit of the wholesome Maharashtrian culture and is called the ‘Queen of Silks’ as it was once only worn by royals and aristocrats. Find out more about the quintessential Paithani silk saree here.
Where did it all begin?
The Paithani saree dates back to the reign of the Satvahana Dynasty which ruled somewhere between the 2nd century BC and the 2nd century AD. These fine silk handloom sarees originated in Paithan town in Aurangabad and thus got the name. These truly flourished during the Mughals’s era especially during the reign of Aurangzeb. It is said that he punished Jamdani weavers to promote Paithani saree.
The Paithani weaving industry saw an unfortunate setback during the Industrial Revolution and onset of the British rule. However, in the 17th century, the Peshwas decided to promote the craft and set up a settlement of Paithani weavers in Yeola, which has now become the manufacturing hub for Paithani silk sarees in India. From then onwards, Paithani saree experienced a new birth.
How is it woven?
The weave that is used in Paithani sarees was earlier a tapestry weaving technique and later being used for weaving sarees. These sarees were made using the silk threads imported from China and zari that was made locally from real gold and silver thread. Nowadays, mulberry silk sought from Bangalore and zari from Surat is put to use in the weaving process. To make a genuine handloom Paithani saree, 500 grams of silk thread along with 250 grams of zari thread are used if the saree is 6 yards long. Nine-yard sarees naturally use more raw material and their weight can go up to 900 grams.
The raw silk threads dying is done through the natural dyes of vegetables, plants, etc. Then they are transferred to the reels for loading into the loom. The loom’s preparation is quite a laborious task that takes a whole day and how well it is done determines the overall quality and finer details of the saree. The weaving part can take from a month to 2 years depending on the weaving process.
Wedding Paithani saree is available in six as well as nine yards and the most intriguing part about these is that both sides of the saree look identical including the border and pallu. As a matter of fact, this identical feature is the revealing sign of a Paithani handloom. The Paithani Saree is a key part of the Maharashtrian Bride’s trousseau as it stays vibrant and doesn’t lose its luster or wear out at the folds.
Paithani Saree colours
These sarees are dyed using natural colors so there are limited shades available in them. Few basic shades like red, magenta, yellow, green, sky blue, peach-pink and purple, etc are available in these sarees. In every saree, there are two dominating colours- one on the saree body and another one on the pallu and the border.
Identifying a Paithani saree
· The Paithani Saree Collection will be identical on the front and back and there will be no threads showing or no color gaping on the reverse side. They are made of silk thread and zari and look exactly similar on the front and back.
● In most Paithani sarees, motifs include lotus, peacocks, flowers, parrots, and vines.
● Paithanis are available in basic colors like red, magenta, yellow, peach-pink, blue, purple, green as the threads are dyed using vegetable dyes leading to the limited palette.
● Since these sarees are woven manually, two Paithanis will never be the same. There will always be a difference.
Buying the Paithani saree
Paithani Saree Online stores are selling these sarees for a cost-effective range so you can explore the Paithani saree collection online or visit a store offline if you want to experience the touch and feel of the saree. These sarees are passed on to the new generations like precious jewels and are heirlooms that may cost between INR .7,000 to several lacs of rupees. These sarees are costly because they are directly made from pure silk thread and the zari made from real gold or silver. Bridal sarees even have gems and pearls sewn into the pallu and border.