The Saree Story is the web’s first attempt at creating a dedicated encyclopedia for…sarees.
Sure, you have a Wikipedia page for sarees, but then, Wikipedia is for…everything.
I started compiling stuff for Saree Story about a month back. Given the long history of sarees, the Saree Story is not an easy or a short one to tell.
The Saree Story will hence be an evolving section. I will be glad to listen to your ideas to include more interesting stuff at this section. The idea is to make Saree Story a fascinating section that tells the colorful story of saree in an equally colorful and exciting way. You can send me your thoughts and suggestions for Saree Story to email@example.com
The Saree Story (presently) has the following sections:
- History of Sarees
- Wearing a Saree
- Types of Sarees
- Art of Buying Sarees
- Saree Care
A saree or sari is an unstitched rectangular piece of fabric worn by women in the Indian sub continent. The length of a sari varies from 4.5 metres (5 yards) to 8 meters (9 yards) and its width is about 1 metre. A saree is worn by wrapping one end around the waist and the other end draped over the shoulder.
1. History of Sarees
- Origin of sarees
The origins of saris are obscure, in part because there are very few historical records in India. Yet, we know that Indians were wearing saris draped around their bodies long before tailored cloths arrived. The origin of a sari can be dated back in history and there are various references of it during the Indus Valley Civilization. In more recent times, it is believed that the women in most parts of India have been wearing saris for many years.
One of the earliest depictions of a Sari-like drape covering the entire body dates back to 100 B.C. A North-Indian Terracotta depicts a woman wearing a Sari wound tightly around her entire body in the trouser style. Read full article here
The Indian Sari was first mentioned in Rig Veda, the oldest surviving literature of the world, written somewhere around 3000 BC.
The word Saree / sari is derived from the sanskrit word ‘sati’, which refers to a strip of cloth. This sound first evolved into ‘sadi’ and then into ‘sari’.
- Sarees across ages
When the Aryans came into the plains of the mighty north Indian rivers, they brought with them the word vastra for the first time. Though a Sanskrit word originally meaning a garment or cloth, for them it was a piece of treated leather made into wearable clothing. Their wardrobes also included woollen clothing as they lived in colder climates. As they moved southwards, they adopted the practice of wearing cotton weaves, in the manner of the Indus Valley inhabitants. In time, this style of wearing a length of cloth around the waist, especially for women, and the cloth itself came to be known as neevi. Therefore, it is quite likely that the simple loin cloth worn by the women of the Indus Valley civilisation was the early precursor of the many-splendoured saree of India.
The Barhut and Sanchi relief sculptures show women of all classes wearing the neevi or the length of cloth around the waist just below their navels, and for the first time, with the pleats hanging in the vikachcha style in front and touching their toes in a graceful fall. The vikachcha style of wearing the neevi did away with the passing of the cloth between the legs and the tucking of the central pleats behind. Instead, a short decorative piece of cloth was draped around the hips and knotted in front. This piece was called the Asana.
But soon, the next stage in the development of the saree was to come. With the influence of the Greeks and the Persians, the clothes of all classes of Indians were in for a major change. The Greeks had already discovered the belt or a cummerbund-like cloth to clinch their long flowing robes at the waist. The Persians were already wearing their length of cloth gathered and held together at the shoulder and belted at the waist. These new features of wearing the same garment immediately caught the fancy of India’s women, particularly of the affluent classes, who used the gathered and waisted look, adapting it to suit their lighter, more ornamental fabrics.
2. Wearing a Saree
Styles of draping
- Typical Traditional Saree
The most common style is for the sari to be wrapped around the waist, with the loose end of the drape to be worn over the shoulder. However, the sari can be draped in several different styles, though some styles do require a sari of a particular length or form
The Nivi style of Saree is the most popular traditional draping style. It’s universal, versatile and represents the cultural heritage of India. Bengali style Saree looks gorgeous in Sarees with intricate borders and bright hues. The Lehenga style Saree merges two traditional dress forms and gives a Ghagra impression. The Gujarati style Saree is a traditional and elegant way to show off the intricately bordered pallus.
Tamilian style : Tamilians wrap saree around the waist, the pleats are positioned along the left leg. The rest of the sari is taken over the left shoulder, wrapped once again round the waist and tucked on the left side
Bengali Saree Style : The traditional Bengali way to drape a saree is without pleats. The pallu goes across one of your shoulders. The loose end of the pallu is then taken from behind and tucked over your other shoulder. Ideally you should be wearing traditional Bengali sarees like Dhakai and Baluchori in this way.
Gujarati Saree Style: In the Gujarati style, the pallu comes over your shoulder instead falling across your arm. The pallu is then opened up and one of its loose ends is tucked into the waist. This allows you to display the entire length of your pallu.
- Other Styles
- Mundum Neryathum
- Malayali style
Of course, the modern saree wearing/draping style is a category in itself. The modern folk do not wish to spend hours draping a saree around them, and wish to drape saree in a little less than a minute in a very modern way
Here we showcase some “modern” models in saree
Pre Pleated Saree: Ready-pleated or a pre-pleated saree. The end result is not only neat but perfect. Pre-pleated saree or ready-pleated saree is a great innovation in the world of sarees. This type of saree is different from a lehenga saree as the pleats are pre-stitched in the front portion of this saree.
Front pallu: is very good option if your saree has nice work on the pallu or a heavy border pallu. To achieve this look, tie the saree on petticoat with peats as you do normally. Then take the pallu part and let it go around you under your hands. To keep it at place, secure it with pins on both side of your blouse. Now pleat the pallu let it go under your left hand and bring it on left shoulder and pin it.
Lehenga Style Saree
Simple Butterfly Saree
Mumtaz Saree Draping
Popularized by the lovely film star Mumtaz, this way of wearing your saree involves draping it tightly around your lower body several times, to give it a narrow look and dramatically fling the remaining fabric over your shoulder.
3. Types of Sarees
Silk is a natural protein fibre, some forms of which can be woven into textiles.
A variety of wild silks, produced by caterpillars other than the mulberry silkworm, have been known and used in China, South Asia, and Europe since ancient times.
China Silk fabric was first developed in ancient China, with some of the earliest examples found as early as 3500 BC
India Silk, known as “Paat” in Eastern India, Pattu in southern parts of India and Resham in North India has a long history in India.
Thailand Silk is produced year round in Thailand by two types of silkworms. Thai silk textiles often use complicated patterns in various colours and styles.
Some specific types of silks:
- Arani silk
- Banarasi silk
- Dharmavaram silk
- Gadwal silk
- Kanchipuram silk
- Karnataka silk
- Kora silk
- Mysore silk
- Narayanpet silk
- Patola Sarees.
- Pochampally silk
- Seemavaram silk
- Uppada silk
- Valkalam silk
- Venkatagiri silk
Cotton saree makes really comfortable clothing for summers. As summer in India is famous for being brutally hot, there are many varieties of Indian cotton sarees to combat the heat. Almost every state in India has its own variety of traditional cotton sarees. Some of these cotton sarees like the Bengali Tant sarees are famous for their fabric quality. Others are famous for the thread work like Zamdani.
- Tant (Bengal cotton)
- Kota Doria
One of the most common materials used for modern sarees is georgette. This is a reasonably sheer lightweight fabric which is slightly heavier and less opaque then chiffon. This makes georgette sarees ideal for creating pleats and creates an elegant saree drape. Georgette is often made of silk or polyester and has a slightly springy quality which makes it move on it’s own. This is again ideal for the saree pleats when walking and the saree drape.
- 80 grams Georgette
- 60 grams Georgette
- 40 grams Georgette
- Faux Georgette or Artificial Georgette
Crepe is an increasingly popular material used for both sarees and in Indian fashion in general. Crepe is a woven or knitted fabric and often regarded as a luxurious material. Crepe sarees have a great drape and fall, again making crepe sarees perfect for evening wear.
The most elegant and formal saris are made of chiffon. Chiffon saris typically consist of a variety of prints and embroidery work, including resham, gold, and bandhi. Because of its intricacy, a chiffon sari will require the most TLC and effort to drape correctly – but will provide the most elegant look!
Other Saree Types
Saris come in a variety of other fabrics as well, including linen, velvet, satin, and crush, as well as more discerning fabrics.
4. The Art of Buying Sarees
How to buy original silk sarees:
- To check for quality of silk of your Kanjeevaram sari is very important. One can find the silk initially thick and glossy upon the Pallu on inspection. But once you feel inside you might notice that it is only half the thickness and not full fledged which is a trademark of a Kanjeevaram sari!
- A low quality Kanjeevaram sari will have just two ply silk as compared to the original three ply silk used in weaving.
- One can also check for zari. The original Kanjeevaram sari makes use of gold dipped thread where as fake gold zari is used in an imitation sari. See if the zari used in the sari has thread covered with flattened silver in centre and gold on the outer surface or not.
- How to test zari for fakeness- just scratch or scrape the zari and check if a red silk emerges from the core of the sari. If not, ten it is not a real Kanjeevaram sari!
- Besides one can also see through the border, body and even the Pallu of the Kanjeevaram sari.
How to buy original Banarasi sarees :
- When you go to buy a Banarasi saree just pull its other side up i.e. reverse the saree to check for floats between the grids of warps and wefts on the saree
- Identify a real Banarasi saree is to check for a six to eight inches long patch of plain silk on the Pallu of the Banarasi saree. A plus is that portion of the saree that goes over the shoulder.
How to choose the perfect saree for your body type:
Indian saree has evolved as a fashion statement that is perfect for any occasion. A right saree will not only hide your body flaws but also can enhance your looks that will you look attractive.
- Pear-shaped body
We all know that women with pear shaped body have a heavier bottom compared to their upper body. Thus if you have this type of body shape then you should go for fabrics like chiffon and georgette as these type of fabric helps you to balance your upper and lower body shape. Beside this stay away from mermaid cuts as this adds unnecessary attention to your lower part. Always prefer to seedha pallu style in draping as it make you look a proportionate. You must also prefer to bold and bright colors as it suits you best.
- Apple-shaped body
If you find that you are heavy around your bust and stomach, then you are having apple shaped body. So for this type of shape you should go for those sarees which have heavy embroidery work as this will give you a complement your body shape. Try to cover your waist and prefer to longer blouse as this helps you to cover your problem areas. If you have apple shape then you must avoid the sarees which are in net. Drape your saree in very simple way or prefer to ulta-pallu style.
- Rectangle shape
- A rectangle shape woman has an athletic body with toned arms and legs. Your upper body is proportionate to your lower body with small bust and not much curve. The main goal is to create body curves. Wear corsets blouse with large prints and floral patterns with plain sarees to balance your body structure. Lehenga saree is perfect for you.
- Hourglass shape:
Hourglass or Voluptuous Women are perfectly shaped women, and upper and lower body parts are well balanced. All kinds of sarees draping styles and fabrics look great on them. The saree is one of the most ideal outfit for them. Net, chiffons, georgettes, soft silks looks great and helps to accentuate their curves.
- Overweight women
We have listened that overweight women many times complain that they look broader and bigger in Cotton and other stiff fabrics sarees. Thus it is advice to them that they should use chiffon and silk sarees as this type of fabric helps to balance their shape and will draw attention away from your problem areas. Prefer dark color and Handloom sarees as it looks more beautiful to you. Beside this prefer to full sleeves and long blouses as they would help to hide your flab.
- Voluptuous figure
For voluptuous figure georgette, chiffon and net fabrics are best, as they will neatly wrap around your body highlighting your curves. For this type of figure you should go for dark colors saree. You saree should not be very heavy and it must have delicate embroidery and bead work. It should have a good fall which will make you look slimmer. You can also wear a blouse with criss-cross strings holding it together.
- Slim figure
If you are slim then you must pick up cotton, silk or organza saree as they give you fuller figure. You can go for option for saree in light color or heavy embroidery. As you are slim thus you should go for big and bold prints in a variety of colors. Slim women can easily carry off backless, sleeveless, halter neck and tube blouses.
- Tall and slim women
Taller women must prefer to heavy borders or bog bold prints with variety of color. This helps to divert the attention from your height.
- Short and slim women
If you are short in high then you should avoid big prints and heavy borders. You should avoid big prints and heavy borders and more prefer to medium-sized prints and thin border as this help you to look tall.
- Other Things Which you should Keep In Mind
- You must pay attention to your pleating as if it is not done properly then you will end up looking shabby.
- Wear accessories on your saree intelligently. Clutches, shoes and statement necklaces all these things can make you the best or else break your look. If your saree is too heavy then you must go for danglers.
- While selecting your blouse you must follow the simple rule that heavy blouse should be accompanied with lighter saree and vice versa.
- Follow these tips in your mind and buy a gorgeous saree for you. So be ready to dazzle everyone with beauty and style.
5. Saree Care
Care and cleaning :
Given below are few easy ways to keep your silk sarees long-lasting and looking as elegant and glamorous as a new one.
1. For the first wash, soak the saree in salt water and then rinse well in cold water.
2. Do not wash with soap in the beginning.
3. After two or three plain water washes, use mild detergent and clean quickly.
4. Do not brush or lash a silk saree. This might tear the zari.
5. Wash pallu (Mundhi) and border separately in the beginning.
6. Do not bundle and keep wet for a long time.
7. In case of stains, wash with cold water immediately.
8. For hard stains soak the stained area with petrol and brush with soft cloth.
9. Do not bundle the wet saree along with inferior variety clothes like choli, under gown (Petticoat), etc.
10. While pressing, keep the iron in medum heat only.
11. Store sarees in a cold dry plase dusted with neem leaves.
12. Make sure to change the saree fold once a month in order to avoid zari breakage.
Removing stains from silk saris :
1. To remove sweat stains from silk use vinegar. Mix vinegar and water in equal parts and pour it on a piece of soft cloth, dab it on the stain and then rinse with warm water.
2. To remove coffee or tea stains first sponge the area with lukewarm water and then gently rub glycerine over it. Wait for half and hour and then rinse the area with warm water.
3. To remove chocolate stains clean it with the solution of denatured alcohol (ethanol) with household ammonia. Mix the two in equal parts and then gently clean the area with warm water.
4. Alcohol stains are easier to remove when fresh. In such a case pat the stained area with warm water several times. For more stubborn stains glycerine can be applied on the fabric and then rinsed off after waiting for about half an hour.
5. To remove oil stains from the silk fabric use talcum powder. Sprinkle the powder and let it stay for around 20 minutes. Brush away the excess powder off the fabric. Cornstarch can also be used in place of talcum powder.
Though these tricks can come handy at the time of emergency yet it is always safe to send your silk garment to a professional.
The Saree Story will continue…