“A tradition is kept alive only by something being added to it” Henry James
And how true is it indeed when we consider the Maheshwari fabric. It all started when Rani Ahilayabai was ruling during the Holkar reign at Maheshwar. Believed to be the innovator who encouraged the Maheshwar weavers to create a Maheshwari saree and created the conditions for achieving its weaving excellence, its passage through time after the initial spurt has seen many ups and downs. The periods when the fabric was not doing well in the market was when designs stagnated from complacency.
The Maheshwari saree is a traditional weave of royal patronage that has despite the travails over time, managed to survive and emerge a fabric as current and fashionable as any popular handloom variety. Thanks to the devotion and dedicated efforts of its craftsmen, the Maheshwari fabric is still counted as one of the finest weaves in handloom silk cotton that has maintained purity in its work.
Unnati Silks and its range of Maheshwari Salwar Kameez
Unnati Silks, a name that can be trusted in pure handlooms since 1980, has a wide range of fabrics in Maheshwari handloom from sarees and salwar kameez to finely crafted handloom dupattas. The fascination for the Maheshwari fabric is for its unique designs on silk and cotton fabrics, the fine use of zari and brilliant use of stripes, checks and exquisite floral borders. Added is the light weight, the lustre and brilliant motifs in a wide range of pleasing hues.
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There is a Maheshwari handloom Sico Salwar kameez range that has drawn interest from the market since introduction. A mix from plain kameez to the designer printed kameez, the variety is awesome. The focus is centred on the kameez and the overall allure in the right combination of the three elements of the attire – kameez, salwar and dupatta.
The kameez is decorated or finely adorned by the exquisite Kasuti embroidery of Karnataka, sometimes plain with sprinkled motifs or given a face-over with extraordinarily imaginative themes in block prints. The border on the kameez could be plain, colored with some printed design or a zari lining. There are examples of the kasuti embroidery in addition to sprucing up the kameez also adorns the thin borders as well.
What are some of the designs visible on the Maheshwari salwar suit? You can see a decorative flower garden, geometrical shapes in innovative block designs, the zigzag patterns, the Leheria wave patterns, the shibori art etc. Of course one of the main attractions is the traditional Kasuti thread work. On good quality handloom silk cottons, the Maheshwari salwar kameez is soft and smooth in texture. What adds to the allure is the judicious use of colours like pink, green, yellow, blue, brown, and cream and the lovely innovative combinations.
A brief about Maheshwar
A small town in the Khargone district of Madhya Pradesh very close to the comercal city of Indore, it had seen very good days during the region of the Holkars. Rani Ahilyabai during her rule was instrumental in popularizing the Maheshwari fabric by giving patronage to the weaving art and promoting the work by suggesting innovative designs and getting the weavers to do the best of their ability in providing most of their weaves as royal household clothing. It has also been since, a centre of handloom weaving.
Famed for its Maheshwari Sarees Online, the innovation of a royal queen, Rani Ahalyabai, Maheshwar is today home to the making of one of India’s finest traditional handloom fabrics. Modern Day industrialization with its advent did halt the progress for a while, but soon the interest and initiative of an NGO and other like-minded individuals got better of the situation to put the progress of the weaves back ontrack.
There was a time at the start of the twentieth century when Modern Day industrialization slowly saw the advent and popularity of power looms. Change in trends, increased apathy of those in power, extremely disproportionate returns for the valuable time and effort put in the making of the Maheshwari Sarees, discouraged the weavers engaged in this art and threatened its extinction.
Today a descendant of the Holkars offers primary employment to women to sustain the onward journey for this ethnic art.
What is the USP of the Maheshwar fabric?
The Maheshwar loom has the buttas or motifs and the borders made on the shuttles involving an intricate system of weaving. Coupled with dedicated introduction of innovations it has given the Maheshwari Sari and Salwar Kameez its pride of place as one of the finest traditional fabrics that has regained its former glory.
The innovative use of block prints, the clever use of zari linings, simple motifs, and a weave incorporating finesse and fine execution delivers the Sico Maheshwari salwar kameez as a wonder fabric that has all the makings of an interesting exercise in traditional weaving that has also the potential to ‘wow’ the market.
Elegant geometrical block printed motifs on the Maheswari cotton saree having a zari patti border is a refreshing change and makes comfortable wear through the day.
The Maheshwari Salwar suit serves for a number of occasions from simple formal wear, to the most exclusive of occasions like weddings, festivals and cultural events.
Maheshwari Punjabi suits were initially made only in dark shades like red, maroon, black, purple and green. Today, there is no restriction on fresh hues and brilliant combinations. In fact the use of zari as a lining or border is more than ever in the use.
Fabrics like the Maheshwari handloom cotton are not traceable easily to a time in history. For they have been around since a long time and faced ups and downs in their journey, but despite which they forge ahead in their passage through time, thanks to timely support, needed boost in morale and a leaning towards fabric excellence.
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