I am back with a small post about history of Saree draping. I thought let’s start with a little bit of history lesson before I move on to the more detailed silk saree posts.
The Wikipedia describes the origin of the word Saree as “The word sari is derived from Sanskrit “sati” which means ‘strip of cloth’] and sadi in prakrit, which was corrupted to sari in Hindi. The word “Sattika” is mentioned as describing women’s attire in ancient India in Buddhist Jain literature called Jatakas. This could be equivalent to modern day “Sari.”
Sari has been unifying feature, despite the variations in its wearing style, in different parts of India. Although, it is fast disappearing garment for everyday wear, the sari will survive as a special occasion wear. More and more Indian women today prefer stitched garments and western wear of easy to maintain and wash and wear fabrics and yet there was a time when they rode horses wearing saris in Jhansi, UP and even swam in rivers and ponds with their saris tucked between the legs.
The origin of Sari dates back to the Indus valley civilization. They wore a single long cloth around their waist and pulled it through their legs to make a pant-like shape. This helped them in dancing and easy movement. The top was usually barely covered or left bare.
You can still see the traditional way of wearing the saree in Kerala, where one long cloth is wrapped around the waist and one shawl like fabric is wrapped over the shoulder.
The main aspects of today’s saree, the blouse and the petticoat, have come very recently, with the arrival of Persian and British rulers. If you would have seen the movie “Choker Bali,” there is a scene where Raima Sen, as a wife of a well-to-do Bengali gentleman, tries out the blouse for the first time. Aishwarya and many other characters in the movie are dressed in the traditional Bengali fashion .i.e. without a blouse and a petticoat.
There is a very interesting book called “Thakur Barir Onder Mohal” (Translated from Bengali by Ritesh Mazumdar). It has an interesting paragraph where you come across how the sari wearing came into its more recent urban form – the change started with Satyendranath (elder brother of Rabindranath) Tagore’s wife, Gyanodanandini, who changed her saree style according to the Parsi way, when her husband got posted to Bombay.
From then on, saree draping has gone through various changes, according to the different Royal ladies of the time. Even before cinema could influence the fashion of common people, it was the Royal ladies that they replicated. Saree went through a lot of transition, from a hobble skirt to a gown to the current form of draping.
Many Royal women wore a scarf or a crown to impersonate the then rulers/foreign royalty and kept their pallu extremely short.
Its these Royal ladies who are credited in bringing the French Chiffon and Lace in the Saree form.Who can forget Maharani Gayatri Devi with her Chiffons and pearls?
There are 180+ ways of wearing a sari in India. This distinguishes the sari as the most unique and versatile of garments. I will take you through as many as I can with mine and my mother’s knowledge combined.
Hope this post was helpful 🙂
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