The core of any good saree wardrobe is to have
at least one traditional saree from every region from India. In addition,
there should be some plain, single colored sarees, to show off
accessories – be it elegant jewelry or a shawl to perfection.
A range of gorgeous sarees come from Gujarat,
Rajasthan, Haryana, Western Uttar Pradesh and Western Madhya Pradesh. The
dominant characteristic of the saree of these regions is obtained by
dyeing rather than weaving techniques. In fact, the three major forms of
Indian resist-dyeing – block printing, tie & dye and ikat have
Sarees from West India:
- These are sarees created by dyeing the
cloth in such a manner that many small resist-dyed ‘spots’ produce
elaborate patterns over the fabric.
- The traditional bandhani market
has shrunk however, because of the rise of low-cost silk-screened
imitations and most modern bandhani sarees are made with larger designs
and fewer ties than in the past. There are varieties available in two
contrasting colors, with borders, end-pieces and one or more large
central medallion called a pomcha or padma (lotus flower).
Red and black is the most common color combination but other pairs of
colors are also found. For instance, the panetar saree is a
Gujarati-Hindu saree of satin weave and Gajji silk with red borders,
central medallions and a white body, which may contain regularly spaced
red tie-dyed spots.
- Single color sarees and odhnis
with white spots are also common. The most famous of this type is the
Gujarati saree called Garchola It is usually red, but
occasionally green, and is divided into a network of squares created by
rows of white tie-dyed spots or woven bands of zari. The Garchola
is a traditional Hindu and Jain wedding saree, which used to be made of
cotton, but is now usually in silk. The number of squares in the saree
is ritually significant multiples of 9, 12 or 52.
- The most time consuming and elaborate
saree created by the western region is the potole (plural
patola) which has intricate five color designs resist-dyed into
both warp and weft threads before weaving.
- Double ikat patola saree is a
rare and expensive investment. A cheaper alternative to double ikat
patola is the silk ikat saree developed in Rajkot (Gujarat),
that creates patola and other geometric designs in the weft
- Gujarati Brocade
- These are extremely expensive and
virtually extinct. The main distinguishing characteristics of the
Gujarati Brocade Saree:
(circular designs) woven into the field in the warp direction instead
of the weft, resulting in their lying horizontally instead of
vertically on the saree when draped.
- Floral designs woven in colored silk,
against a golden (woven zari) ground fabric. Although such
‘inlay’ work is a common feature in many western Deccan silks, the
Gujarati work usually has leaves, flowers and stems outlined by a fine
- Embroidered Tinsel Sarees
- The western region also has a rich
embroidered tradition, made famous by ethnic groups such as rabaris
and sodha Rajputs.
- The saree with zardozi, the gold
gilt thread embroidery technique, at one time patronized by the Moghul
emperors and the aristocracy, is toady an inextricable part of a bridal
tinsel and khari work are the cheaper variations available in
metallic embroidery, which have also become quite popular.
- This saree is named after a village near
Aurangabad in Maharashtra. Now also woven in the town of Yeola, these
sarees use an enormous amount of labor, skill and sheer expanse of
material in their creation.
- Distinctive motifs such as parrots,
trees and plants are woven into the saree. The shades vary from vivid
magenta, peacock greens and purples. In the pallav, the base is
in gold and the pattern is done in silk, giving the whole saree an
- Chanderi and Maheshwari
- The Chanderi saree from Madhya
Pradesh is light and meant for Indian summers. It is made in silk or
fine cotton with patterns taken from the Chanderi temples.
- The Maheshwari sarees are also
both in cotton and silk, usually green or purple with a zari
border. The traditional block-printed tussar can also be found in
contemporary designs nowadays.
- Gadwal saree is made in cotton in
a style influenced by the Benarasi weaves. While the ground of the saree
is cotton, there is a loosely attached silk border.
- Copper or gold-dipped zari is
generally used in these sarees. The motifs of the murrugan
(peacock) and the rudraksh are popular.
- Traditional colors for these sarees are
earth shades of browns, grays and off-whites. However, brighter shades
have been introduced for the North Indian buyer.
Sarees from North India:
- Benaras Brocade
- This saree from Benaras is virtually
mandatory in the bride’s trousseau. These sarees vary tremendously as
weavers create different products to suit different regional markets and
- Most brocades usually have strong Moghul
influences in the design, such as intricate intertwining floral and
foliate motifs, kalga and bel. A characteristic found
along the inner, and sometimes outer, edge of borders is a narrow fringe
like pattern that often looks like a string of upright leaves called
jhallr. This is almost a signature of Benarasi brocade.
- Other Sarees from this region
- The region is also famous for producing
ornate sarees such tanchois, amru brocades, shikargarh
brocades and tissues. Abrawans (literally meaning flowing
water)- Tissue sarees, usually woven with the finest silk thread
are also quite popular. A classy design in Abrawans is tarbana
(woven water) with a fine silk warp with a zari weft giving an
almost metallic sheen. Kincab or Kinkhwab sarees are the
most popular of the brocades and are so covered with the zari
patterning that the underlying silk cloth is barely visible.
also come from Uttar Pradesh. These silk sarees are embellished with
zari threadwork. The popular theme is a jacquard weave in ‘meena’
colors like orange and green.
- Tanchois (in zari) are
another item from of Uttar Pradesh and have different designs, not just
- Another type is the kora silk
saree which is starched as brittle as organza.
Sarees from South India:
- Kanjeevwaram Saree
- No Indian bridal trousseau is complete
without the ‘Kanjeewaram’ saree, characterized by gold-dipped
silver thread that is woven onto brilliant silk. Kanchipuram is a town
in Tamil Nadu with more than 150 years of weaving tradition – completely
untouched by fashion fads.
are favored for their durability. Kanjee silk is thicker than
almost all other silks, and is therefore more expensive. The heavier the
silk, the better the quality. Peacock and parrot are the most common
motifs. Though lightweight kanjee sarees are popular as they are
easy to wear and cost very little, the traditional weavers do not like
to compromise. While Korean and Chinese silk is suitable for
light-weight sarees (machine woven), only mulberry silk produced in
Karnataka and few parts of Tamil Nadu, is right for the classic
- Konrad Saree
- The konrad or the temple saree is
also a specialty item from Tamil Nadu. These sarees were original woven
for temple deities.
- They are wide bordered sarees and are
characterized by wedding related motifs such as elephants and peacocks,
symbolizing water, fertility and fecundity.
- Pashmina silk, kota silk,
Mysore crepes, pochampallis and puttapakshi sarees
are also popular South Indian sarees.
- Typical wedding sarees from Kerala are
the nayayanpets and bavanjipets which usually have a gold
border on a cream base.
Sarees from East India:
- Baluchari Sarees
- This saree from Bengal is usually five
yards in length and 42” wide in flame red, purple and occasionally in
deep blue. The field of the saree is covered with small butis and
a beautiful floral design runs across the edges. The anchal has
the main decoration depicting narrative motifs. Taingals and
kanthas are other specialty items from Bengal.