I recently was blipping around Pinterest searching for "Ancient Indian Sari" which as you can expect, doesn't produce anything older than the 18th century. I did see some modern designs as inspiration for my sari project and followed one link to Strands of Silk website. Not only did they have some lovely modern sari's but they also had sections of traditional styles of sari decoration. The following are small segments of their website with links to each piece, each page has a good intruduction then sections on the history, the motifs & colours, production techniques and producer communities. The sort of information that'll be invaluable starting point should I wish to visit these regions myself. I've picked a few forms of decoration, their full list is as follows:
- Ajark printing
- Banarasi brocade
- Block Printing
- Kota Doria
- Mirror Work
- Patan Patola
- Pipli Applique
- Tie and Dye
- Zardosi Embroidery
The term ‘ajrak’ derived from the Arabic word ‘azrak’ which can mean ‘indigo’ or ‘blue’. This reflects Sindh’s historic reputation as a dominant producer of indigo dye and illustrates the extensive use of the indigo shade of blue in traditional ajrak print, which is still common to this day. Traditionally, ajrak prints were donned by both men and women. To this day men continue to use ajrak printed turbans and cummerbunds, as well as draping the fabric over their shoulders. Just as before, women continue to wear ajrak printed dupattas, chadors and shawls that exquisitely complement other garments such as sarees. The Khatri community, who continue to be dominant ajrak printers in the Kutch district, have recognised contemporary markets, producing traditional ajrak prints on modern pieces such as yardages and home furnishings.
Historically - The art of block printing as a whole flourished in India in the 12th century, and motifs were heavily influenced, in the 17th century, by the reign of Mughal emperors. Ajrak printing, however, historically evolved in parallel as an intricate genre of block printing. Though ajrak printing is synonymous with the Sindh culture of Pakistan, its roots stretch to the Indian states of Gujarat and Rajasthan due to the inhabitants of the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation who, from 3300 BCE, settled along the basins of the Indus River.
Banarasi brocades are one of the finest fabrics that India has to offer. It is a specialty of Varanasi, formerly known as Banaras, from which the fabric derives its name. Throughout history, brocade was a fabric of luxury worn by nobility in various cultures, from India to Korea. Brocade is a heavy fabric similar to jacquard with a raised pattern or floral design. Traditionally the pattern was produced with gold or silver thread said to be of such superb quality that they could be woven into fabric of pure gold and silver. There is evidence of different textured brocades since the Rig Vedic period c. 1750-500 BCE, including fabric of gold known as Hiranya Vastra. Silkora, a mixture of silk and cotton, is a modern textile innovation of Banarasi brocade.
Historically - The textile industry fits into this milieu and brocade weaving with gold and silver thread, zari, has been a Banarasi specialty since the Rig Vedic period between c. 1750-500 BCE. It was during this time that the oldest scriptures of Hinduism, the Vedas, were composed. Banarasi brocades, or kimkhabs, woven with gold and silver thread gained widespread renown during the Mughal period of the 14th century, and with the arrival of Europeans.
The word ‘batik’ is derived from the Indonesian word ambatik, which can be translated to ‘wax writing’. Batik is a 2000 year old art form predominantly practised in Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan and India. Batik is an ancient form of handloom and fabric painting in which the fabric is printed with wax resist before being dyed. Batik was once considered a sign of sophistication and cultivation, owing to its striking yet delicate motifs that include flowers and birds. Batik print encompasses a three dimensional feature with depth and texture.
Historically - Early evidence of batik dating back more than 2000 years has been found across Africa, Central Asia, the Middle East, South East Asia, and the Far East. The theory that the art form of batik evolved independently in each of these regions is plausible. However, historians believe it is also likely that batik spread through caravan trade routes. By the 17th century there were established trade routes between China, the Indonesian islands Java and Sumatra, Persia, which is present-day Iran, and Hindustan, which includes the North Indian Gangetic Plain and the Indus River basin in Pakistan. Batik even travelled as far as the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland in the 19th century during the Dutch East Indies colonisation. Many historians dispute the true origins of batik. Some attribute it to Egypt, while others believe it originated from India.
THIS heavily embroidered lehenga is my favourite of their outfits I think.
Front, back and the skirt