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The special sarees of Kota – the Kotadorias

Kota is known for its fine translucent muslins called Masuria Malmal. Originally, such saris were called Masuria because they were woven in Mysore. The weavers were subsequently brought to Kota by Rao Kishore Singh who was a general in the Mughal army. The weavers were brought to Kota in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, and the saris came to be known as 'Kota-Masuria'. Kota saris are popularly known as 'Masuria' in Kota and Kota Doria outside the state. 'Doria' means thread. Weaving in Kota was started by Maharana Bhimdeo in the 18th century. Maharaja Bhim Singh of Kota brought some weavers from the Deccan in the early 18th Century and the craft blossomed under the royal patronage.

The making of the Kota Doria

The Saree woven on a traditional pit loom is in a manner designed to produce check patterns on the fabric. The square shaped checks known as Khats, are smeared with onion juice and rice paste with care to make the yarn strong and durable. The Kota Doria weave employs the warp and the weft in a special combination of cotton and silk threads. Each cotton thread followed by a few fine silk threads, is again followed by a cotton thread, creating an extremely fine chequered pattern. While the cotton threads provide the binding strength, the silk threads together lend lustre to the fabric. The standard Kota Doria Saree is woven in white and later dyed in different colours. In the case of saris with designs, the threads are dyed prior to weaving.

For the sake of economy, the weavers take up to three Sarees of the same design at a time, the setting-up of the threads being both, complicated and time-consuming. Normally taking up to a day, more complicated the design, more the time taken for setting-up. It takes close to a week to complete three saris in the basic pattern.