11 varieties in Handloom sarees that are worth possessing

by parineeti lal

Handlooms have their undisputed niche in the world of fabrics. Special and ever sought after, handlooms are dedicated weaves akin to an act of devotion, a fine display of art and craftsmanship. Neither are sarees identical, nor patterns blindly replicated, no design cliché nor motifs repeated is the special characteristic of Indian handloom sarees.

From coarse and average to fine and superfine thread counts, handloom varieties are available at distinct locations in most states of the country. You could have plain to lightly adorned sarees or sarees with a lot of exquisite adornments like mirror work, kundan work, badla work, beads, sequins, etc. There could be simple single colour borders to attractive multi-colour ones, plain zari borders or heavily embroidered and adorned patch borders.

Pallus or end pieces could have floral block prints, geometrical patterns, fancy abstract designs or a healthy mix of these or some other attractive feature. The use of organic dyes, a good choice of vibrant colour combinations, hand painting, tribal art, batik sarees, warli painting sarees, thematic representations of folklore and the epics or other popular themes through tribal art, kalamkari sarees and a lot more, contribute to the variety and ensure continued interest of the market in handlooms.

To show the range and depth of handloom varieties, Unnati Silks proudly presents 12 of its vast collection in handlooms that it feels are each possessed of something unique that put them in a coveted lot.

Andhra Handlooms

Handlooms that include pure handloom cotton and rich lustrous cotton silk pattu sarees, Andhra Handlooms are known for their quiet play in colors, neither dull or pale nor very bright. In fact they are mostly close to pastel shades. The Andhra Handloom sarees speak of soft womanly allure and slightly rich feel. Simple weaves of smooth texture, soft feel, that are in attractive colors, vibrant but not hitting the eye these are good count weaves of fine lattice for elaborate prints, but the general patterns are simple geometric or light distributed motifs with captivating borders in varied colors. There is nothing highlighted nor attention centric, yet the saree as a whole by virtue of its simple color play and contrast borders , provides elegance and allure to the wearer of the saree.

Bengal cotton Tant

Come summer and women in India prefer the light, airy, breathing and comfortable cotton sarees as all-day wear. Cotton has always been cooling for the skin because of its absorbing qualities and is a boon for hot climes. One such cotton handloom variety is the Bengal offering – the Tant saree. Traditional in style but modern in outlook, the Tant saree once worn mostly by the women of Bengal, is popular across the nation.

The Tant Handloom is woven from cotton threads and known for its transparency and lightness. Motifs of flowers, the sun, and modern art depictions generally adorn the Tant Saree. The borders of the fabric are thicker than normal since the fineness of the weave make the ends prone to tearing. It also happens to be one of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s favourites.

Kanchi cotton

The Kanjeevaram or Kanchipuram Handloom cotton saree has set a niche for itself as one of the finest weaves in handlooms because of its textural quality.  Of high count and smooth feel by way of sight and touch it gladdens the heart. One may be sure of the dedication of the weavers of the Kanchi cotton sarees in the choice of colors, the patterns and motifs that are simple but finely detailed, the judicious use of golden zari and the pallu or end piece given special attention, that transforms an ordinary weave into a coveted offering.

The charismatic Bandhani

They call it dancing dots on a large expanse of land. A fascinating traditional art it involves knotting the fabric in question at various points with thread. Coloring the fabric and then opening the knots creates an awesome orderly pattern in light color against a dark background. The amazing fact is that the patterns can be changed based on where the knots are tied. Bandhani is an ancient traditional art that originated in the desert regions of Rajasthan and Gujarat with individual differences. An extension of this art is the Leheria where instead of dots you have wavy design portions or Leher (wave).

The lovely linens

A lovely fabric to work with, a nice fabric for looks and wear, linen sports all the good qualities of cotton, but betters it in texture and feel. From the time that Linen has re-entered the market, this ‘fabric for all seasons’ is the only one to better cotton in ‘beating the summer heat’ has been welcomed with renewed enthusiasm and fervor.

Made from long staple fibres, in a wide range of counts from slightly coarse to the extra fine, fashion designers perceive it as wonderful fabric that offers immense possibilities as trendy and vividly patterned apparel that displays qualities of natural luster and cool comfort.

Smooth in texture, soft to touch, absorbent; that keeps the body cool and comfortable at all times, the additional qualities of strength, resistance to abrasion, durability, its non-clinging nature and its ability to take on a whole lot of colors, shades & textures, make the Linen garment a universally loved piece of attire.

Bagru prints

Sometimes the traditional process seems crude in the manner it is done. It is that sudden revelation of the outcome that proves how wrong our thinking can be. The Bagru printing process of Rajasthan is exactly that. Done with blocks of wood with holding grips on one side and engraved designs on the other, designs are transferred to the fabric. A majority of the natural dyes are from plants, hence Bagru Prints are also referred to as ‘eco-friendly’ prints. What is remarkable is the vitality of the colors despite the limited hues.

Uppada handlooms

The outcomes of the Uppada  weave hardly belie its roots in a small fishing village of A.P. Using the tie & dye process the fabrics are colored brilliantly and then adorned with zari imaginatively, sometimes touched up with exquisite embroidery on the end piece and the border. Richly woven Uppada cotton sarees are in demand for their quality, traditional zari and trendy printed borders. Zari booties on the ‘pallu’ and patti borders, give it a grander touch as fashion wear.

The Narayanpet weaves

An obsession with vegetable dyes beyond the ordinary, a trademark pattern of checks in the self color weave, wide golden zari borders at both top and bottom ends of the fabric and a characteristic double shimmer quality from its special weaving process are signs what the traditional Narayanpet saree is recognizable by. Quality materials and fine counts of weave ensure the durability and shine of the Narayanpet for a very long time. In addition for a place believed to be having the blessings of the goddess resident in the local temple, it has triggered the inevitable inclusion of the temple design (triangles in series) border in contrast color to that of the background with a parallel border running alongside it, on every saree woven in Narayanpet.

One of those other options is the interlocking weft method, which works well to create the same but additionally without creating so much bulk. This is what the Narayanpet interlocking weft technique achieves, two different colored wefts side by side and absolutely gapless like a homogeneous design. Slightly tedious in effort but what an effect it achieves!

Kota cotton & silk

An offering from the Land of the Desert, the Kota Cotton Saree is woven in a manner designed to produce check patterns on the fabric. The square shaped checks are known as Khats. The Kota Doria weave employs the warp and the weft in a special combination of cotton threads to form the extremely fine checkered pattern.

The Kota Cotton Saree is translucent muslin, much preferred for its light weight, softness and airy comfort. Pure Cotton with golden Zari threads woven in square patterns is a popular variety. Variations in borders and a whole array of bright colours and shades like pink, blue, saffron, orange etc. applied to traditional prints and beautiful embroidery work create stunning effects.

Chanderi

The special appeal of the Chanderi saree comes from a combination of several factors. Using a special weaving technique it produces sheer fabrics of extremely fine texture. It continues to make use of an age old tradition of ‘Booti’ or motif enhanced in scale, especially on the field and the Pallu that is hand woven in colored thread or dazzling zari. The choice of colors is something that you cannot put a finger on but the output is extremely attractive. The weavers of the Chanderi are steeped in a culture of producing their best for every offering that involves care and concentration on all aspects of the product.

When those involved put their heart in the product it automatically acquires “soul”.

Kerala cotton

Tradition is something deep-rooted and the idea of Kerala cotton was synonymous with the Kerala Kasavu, the spotless white or cream plain fabric with golden zari lining that was invariably the attire for all Malayali festivals and many important occasions. There is a telling significance of the color that bespeaks purity and even today has tremendous appeal. Over time, changes have occurred with color being introduced, small motifs making their way over the plain field, colored borders being introduced etc. But has it altered the essence of the Kerala cotton saree? No. the texture remains the same, the manner of weave has not changed, the zari border still has its place on the saree, the cosmetic changes are only frills that have not robbed the basic character of the weave.

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