Updated: Jul 1, 2022
What makes a paithani saree so special, you ask?
Well, it is no less than a priceless treasure. A Paithani handloom Saree is made entirely of silk. Gold and silver threads are used to make the designs and borders. In yester years, silk was imported from China and Zari used was made from real gold and silver threads. Today, mulberry silk from Bangalore is used and Zari is brought from Gujarat. Paithani weaves are indeed a piece of art to cherish.
The most prominent feature of a paithani weave is that both sides of the saree looks exactly the same. The dye used in the making is 100% natural, i.e. the organic colours extracted from vegetables and plants. The saree has durable lustre and is not soggy in nature. Paithani sarees are worn by Marathi brides. It exists as a symbol of traditions and ancestry passed down through generations.
During the reign of Sathavahanas, Paithani weaves are believed to be originated. At that time India was not formed and was a throng of provinces ruled by many Kings and emperors. Expansion the art was done later by the Mughal dynasty, Peshwas and Nizams respectively. The cut-throat and flamboyant Mughal emperor Aurengazeb was particularly fascinated by the mesmerizing allure of Paithanis.It is believed that Romans bought these pure paithani weaves in exchange for gold of equal weight. The weavers and the community faced a huge blow because of industrialisation during the British rule. The Peshwas made it their goal to revive the precious craft by migrating some of the weaver families to Yeola thereby preserving the Paithani craft. Yeola flourished as the centre of Paithani saree manufacturing and weaving.
The making of Paithani Sarees is a time consuming process, also requiring a load of patience. The workers involved in this activity work tirelessly, with utmost dedication to create a wonder like that. The process starts with dying of raw silk threads with natural dyes. They dyes being natural, the number of colours are limited like red, yellow, green, magenta, blue- green, pink and blue. A single saree can be seen in a combination of any of the two colours with the golden zari adornment.
The weaving of Paithani sarees takes a lot of time compared to other handlooms. The loading defines the design, colour and other details of the saree. The Paithani saree is then made carefully, owing to each and every detail of the product. This process could last between 3 months to 2 years, based on the length of the padar, detail in the motifs and the thickness of the border.
Handloom Paithani Sarees have always been around in the market. Addition of power loom Paithani Sarees reduced the time tken to weave a single saree. Machines have made the work easier to an extent, though handloomed paithani weaves still hold a special place in wardrobes of women in India.