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India is a country of many costumes and dresses. Yet saree remains one of the most widely accepted garment across the country. For a six (sometimes nine) yard rectangular piece of cloth, a saree is very versatile and comfortable piece of clothing. A saree can make a woman of any age or shape look stunning. Its sheer simplicity, practicality and the hint of sensuousness makes it a hit with a major population of women in India.
Sarees come in endless varieties. They can be categories on the basis of their fabric or embroidery or print etc. There are a number of known types of sarees in India. Here are a few that are hugely popular:
Chikan is basically an embroidery style from Lucknow, UP. Chikan is believed to have been introduced by Nur Jehan, Mughal emperor Jahangir’s wife. Traditionally chikan work meant white on white embroidery but today white threads are used on various color muslin cloth.
These are highly sought after variety of sarees. These are historically known to be one of the finest sarees in India and are known for their gold and silver brocade work, fine silk and rich embroidery. These are decorated with elaborate engravings and are thus very heavy.
Jamdani sarees usually have very transparent but fine texture cloth resembling muslin. These display elaborate and ornate workmanship. These are preferred for office wear. Peacocks are a favourite motif as are vines and flowers.
A specific variety of Jamadani saree called Daccai, is woven painstakingly by hand on the old fashioned Jala loom, and many take even up to one year to weave a single sari.
The Baluchari sarees are figured silk saree produced in the town of Baluchar in Murshidabad district of West Bengal. Baluchar sarees essentially have a silk base and avoid strong contrasts. These have detailed scenes from religious epics of India depicted on them and also other figures like horse with a rider, women smoking hookah and court scenes.
Ikat is a near universal weaving style common to many world cultures. Likely, it is one of the oldest forms of textile decoration. Ikat, or Ikkat, is the method of weaving that uses a resist dyeing process similar to tie-dye. ikat sarees typically have heavy threadwork borders and pallus with geometric ikat patterning.
The chanderi sarees are seen as the most sophisticated variety of sarees. These are produced in Chanderi town of Madhya Pradesh. These are generally plain, light and highly translucent sarees with golden borders and small booties all over.
These are a mix of cotton and silk. There is complicated joinery involved and this gives the silk/cotton mix sari its charm. But its so popular because it is possible to fold a 5.5 meter Gadwal saree to the size of a match box.
Kanchipuram town in Tamil Nadu is also known as Silk City since the main profession of the people living in and around is weaving silk sarees, more than 5,000 families are engaged in this industry. Kanchipuram or Kanjivaram sarees are richly brocaded silk sarees with broad borders of zari and striped pallus.
Paithani variety of sari is named after the Paithan region in Maharashtra. These are hand woven, fine silk sarees. Colourful flowers are the typical motifs. They are considered the richest sarees in Maharashtra.
Bandhani, also known as Bandhej, is a type of tie-dye practiced mainly in the states of Rajasthan and Gujarat. After the processing is over, results into a variety of symbols including, dots, squares, waves and stripes. Bandani sarees are made in bright and contrasting colour combinations.