Saree: A Quick Flashback
What is Saree (साड़ी) ?
Saree is the most traditional Indian dress for women. Even before the Vedic times, women folk in India used to drape a long garment around their waists to cover their bodies. A breastband was worn over the drape to cover the upper body. The word ‘saree’, however, evolved from a sanskrit word, शाटी ’sati’, which meant ‘a piece of cloth’.
Dhoti: Fishtail Trouser Style Drape
Since, the ancient times, saree has remained as the most sensual yet most auspicious attire for Indian women. If you have a close look at the statues of various Gods and Goddesses in ancient temples, you can easily discern the sensual ‘fishtail’ style of saree draping in the ancient times. Even today, saree is considered as the best attire to accentuate the curves of a woman and make her look sensual and graceful.
Apart from being a traditional and sensual apparel for women, saree is also one of the most flexible and versatile ensembles for Indian women. Such is the magic and mystic offered by this seamless piece of cloth that it can be draped, tucked, and carried in any style, form and shape. Depending upon the wearer’s whim and fancy, it can be used both as as concealing or revealing outfit.
Introduction of Stiched Blouse and Petticoat
Along with the evolution of culture and arts, saree too like any other piece of art evolved to include a sewn blouse instead of a plain breast band and an underskirt called petticoat to tuck in the drape. With the coming of the Muslims and later British, saree took a much graceful form from that of an old trouser style drape or dhoti of ancient times. The sewing of blouses and petticoats became a regular practice and saree looked much like ‘ghagra’ with a pallu.
Use of Resplendant Fabrics
Despite, the art of stiching gaining immense popularity with Mughal rulers, the magic of the unstiched cloth over petticoat and blouse continued to sway among weavers, men, and women of the times. However, another Mughal contribution to Indian art, culture and costumes was the use of resplendent fabrics like silk, pure cotton, muslin, brocade etc.
There are historical records and evidences of women looking ravishing in silk and muslin drapes. Banarasi silk sarees are still popular and preferred choice of most modern women for auspicious and special occasions like wedding ceremony.
Use of Dyes
Right from historic times, Indian women dazzled in luminescent hued silk drapes. Dyes made from various natural sources were used to color drapes for women. Navy blue, khaki, coral, mustard yellow, crimson, rani pink and pista green evolved during those times are even today much preferred by young modern women as favorite colors for their sarees.
The tie and dye method of printing brought about by the Central Asians to India gained immense popularity in Gujarat and Rajasthan for using the techniques to create beautiful prints for sarees. The bandhej saree or the modern bandhini saree is the gift of historic tie and dye technique, used even today to produce wonderful latest design designer sarees for style savvy modern women.
Development of Textiles and Birth of Fashion Designers
The development of textiles brought about a revolution in the field of costumes and designing. It is hard to say, whether the invention of exotic fabrics like chiffon, crepe, and georgette inspired the new age fashion designers to get more and more experimental with the traditional drape or the versatile nature of the ageless garment coerced fashion designers to use modern fabrics for designing traditional sari.
Today, there are countless varieties of sarees and innumerable ways to wear the same. Sari still remains the quintessential outfit for every Indiuan woman. Online shopping has made it even easier for women across the world to buy sarees of different designs and fabrics and give full wings to their desires, wishes and creativity.