January 10, 2007

The Whole Six Yards

I love wearing a sari to work. I enjoy the attention. Makes me feel very feminine & graceful and all that I am not. But I do not do it often, reasons being:
- it is cumbersome to work/walk in it
- it gets stuffy despite the aircon
- i do not have too many casual saris and I do not repeat them to work
- it is messy since I do not like to pleat my pallu- ( pleating up  shows skin/ navel/ belly and i feel conscious) - though i wear near- no- back blouses!

I know some maamis who go abroad and after scores of years finally get/decide to wear jeans and tshirts. They will tell you particularly sheepishly that they have worn shorts at a safari. I find them sooooooooooo cute. When you see someone is something unusual ( for them) you tend to notice it and like it as well.

Back to some, no all of my favourite saris (not to mistake for TDNA's hilarious take on styles of draping). Please refine my understanding all-those-who-know-more.The Classics-Silks
Kancheepuram- Often heavy, sometimes ostentatious, always striking. A must for weddings. A more subdued thread work instead of zari makes it less dressy. Major innovations are the reversible and the 50K colours one. See here for Appu's take
Paithani- The Maharasthrian silk that comes in typical 5-6 colour combos( parrot green- magenta/ fushia and orange) with usually a parrot motif
Banarasi- The Kancheepuram silk's cousin in the North, heavy and equally stirring & for some reason recalls more "butta" motifs
Tussar- The Bengal one which is very versatile and beautiful
Chanderi- From Madhya Pradesh it can be a little too transparent
Balucheri- Ramamyan and Mahabahrat kathas/ stories woven into soft buttery silks in vivid colours
Jaamdani- Rough almost cotton like ( or is it cotton) famous if from Bangladesh
Khadi- A rough and patriotic twist to silk- also known as "raw silk"
Mysore crepe- Rich in hues, manageable yet dressy
Printed Silk- Immediately recalls Indian airlines air hostess prints, easy to maintain and wear and good for the day and the evening
Crepe- Makes you feel very sexy and possibly the equivalent to wearing a slinky evening gown
Binny - Long gone, there is a wonderful relic in my mom's wardrobe. Gorgeous soft in a turqouise blue.
The Basics- CottonSutra
Bengal/ Venkatagiri/ Mangalagiri/ Kanchi/ Coimbatore/ Madurai Cotton
- All with their typical stamp / signature
Kota- The checked weave of this one makes it speacial, very simple and understated
Set Mundu- The typical off white with ususally gold zari from Kerela
Ikkat/ Pochampalli- From Orissa and Andhra, respectively, this type also comes in silk. It refers to more the kind of weave and the resultant design. like arrowheads bunched together

Gharwal- From Andhra among the most expensive cottons you will find, not sure why. Think it is a combo of silk border and cotton body.
The Fusions- Blends
a fabric that blends the beauty of cotton with the practicality of polyster
Polysilk- a blend which makes it an affordable deceptively silk like sari
"Garden" synthetics- Best for the monsoon, goregous prints , trendsetting ads, Do not know if it even exists now

The Specials- Ornate and Embellished
Zardosi work
- A lovely embroidery manner of Persian origin? Very rich , if slightly poky.
Parsi sari- For want of any better way to put it, this embroidery is typical of Parsis and is just as lovely as the community
Chikan kari- A Lucknowi tradition that is subtle and sophisticated and there are types there too -with the satin and the knot stitch being the most common
Kantha- the running stitch embroidery was a rage and became way too common .
Bandini- a tie and dye technique most synonymous with rajsthand and gujrat, often enhanced by mirros and chumkis. But Chungudi in the South would also be similar I suppose.
Block print- Vegetable dyes and blocks make for this style. Earlier the mango motif was the main thing, whereas now you have a multitude of designs
Kalamkari- As I always say, somehow manages to look old from the start but yet very likeable. Involves hand painting/ blocks. Earlier found in grey and off whites and browns now available in more vibrant hues

Whew! This post itself must be six yards long.

And I must say it is all from my head, no research. Not bad huh?
While on saris, I recollect reading The Sari Shop-by Rupa Bawja , not too good mostly, somewhat interesting in parts, among the few set in Punjab that I have read.


The Kid said...

isnt there a cotton saree called Rangachari ? Maybe it is the store name or was it the product name?

I think my grandma wears that daily.

Itchingtowrite said...

nice reference material . thorough resch i guess. do add my favourites - original/ synthetic crepe, georgette, then there is a sari made of (mosquito) net, chiffon, light weight saris

Artnavy said...

Wow. The comments were up by the time I redrafted and spell checked- that is a first for me
Maybe that is why there is a draft version...hmmmmm

kid- rangachari is a shop - yes lovely collection just like rasi and tarunee laya

itchy- no research- picked my head alone- that is how much i like saris
- crepe is there under silk and the synthetics well only garden deserves a mention- do not like the me too types :-)

apu said...

I love chanderis....and chikan too, though chikan somehow doesnt always drape well.. btw, there are other south indian silks too like arani pattu, dharmaavaram etc though I dont know what the difference is....

( hv you seen the new MP tourism ad ? Its too cool..and talks about chanderis too....)

Artnavy said...

have not seen the ad
dharmavaram- i dislike- so avoided mention

arani - i dont know- u want to maybe gift me the same???

tnx in anticipation

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Kalpana said...

Good memory since atleast you know what is what....I love when anyone wears. Then, I remember we are Indians but still my mind will never feel like wearing it. Might be, I think the same way you think when we wear it. But thanks, wonderfully written. Now, I can go through this whenever I need info regarding sarees.

Anonymous said...

You're right...that was pretty comprehensive. On the same topic, have you tried Chettinad checks? They're a little difficult to find these days and the last time I went looking for one my aunt accused me of 'old people like taste'. :-)

And you probably know this already but FabIndia has some fantastic stuff (shirts etc) with some of the work you've mentioned.

By Deepa and Supriya said...

Nice job..just want to add a couple to the list Ilkal (which is form North Karnataka) dunno if you have heard fo Kittur Rani Chennamma-she used to wear this and Jakard under silks (dunno if I spelt it right). My mom and I absolutely adore binny silks- takes of a few inches :) and I specifically went around hunting for a store which carried a few binny's (beautiful colors too) and the guy at the counter told me the mill was going to reopen soon and lastly, I am soooo going to steal my mom's paithini (she has a gorgeous one) and she doesn't plan on parting with it anytime soon, did i mention that there was a failed burglary attempt this time.

Again nice job.

Something to Say said...

great post art. You've always known your sari-types. And looked sooo good in them too :)
its been almost 2.5 yrs since I've worn one :(

Fuzzylogic said...

Wow what a comprehensive list!It's like a whole different world to me,I don't know too much about the varieties maybe because the only time I wore sarees were only when there were some traditional fests at college,during my wedding and here in North American only when I attend some Indian get togethers.I am not good at draping the heavy ones so I prefer something light and easy to wear like the georgettes,chiffons and mysore silk sarees.My mom however has a classy collection of sarees.Sarees really look classy and elegant only if they are draped well.I am yet to get hang of perfect draping and pleating.
Great post!

Crumbling Cookie said...

Amazing list. You really must like sari's.
Pochampalli-my mom had one, i borrowed it to play teacher on teachers day in high school and you guessed it right-i ruined it.
Jamawar-UP ishtyle. MIL swears by them.
Tanchoi-sounds japanese huh?
Patola-all i know is that it takes a long time to make this one.

Agree with orchid on Binny silk...absolutely love them. In fact i remember comparing notes with orchid back in grad school about all the fab colors.

great post!

Artnavy said...

so many saris and still so many more

orchid- pl tell me the shop that stocks binny -pllleeeese

yes have a chettinad- i find it lungi types but my mother loves them

we all seem to thrive on our mother's collection dont we? i even borrow some of my grandmas
she has an exquisite matchstick border that no longer does the rounds

jamawar, tanchoi, patola,ilkal, jaquard,arani- all new to me- so much more to buy - i have one representative of all the rest

thanks sts- i still recollect your orissa sari on traditional day

fabindia is good- but you knwo u will positively find a couple of others with eth same thing - at least among the working upper middle class women in india- same with shopper stop and the brand W

Kowsalya Subramanian said...

I tie it every other day and I never knew so much about them. your list is so exhaustive and i am going to refer this list the next time i am going shopping

Artnavy said...

i am flattered kowsalya and as long as the list was only exhaustive and not exhausting.... :-)

Anonymous said...

Lovely post!!!! I think a saree can make any woman look pretty no matter tall, short, fat or thin. :)

I love crepes!!! and all our traditional forms. :)

Anonymous said...

Wow, that is a comprehensive list. I need to memorize this post and display my knowledge of saris to my relatives :D

My favorite is Garden saris. My mom used to wear them when I was young. They look gorgeous. When I bought a safi for the first time for my girl friend (now my wife) I went with Garden.

Oh, if you want to directly link to my saree post, you can use this link

Artnavy said...

have done the needful tdna

Anonymous said...

I wonder if you can say something about the various ways of draping saris. I could manage well in India with the help of my roommates but now that I am in the US, I find it hard to drape it myself.

Anonymous said...

Nice post. My knowledge about sarees is almost nil but I love them anyway - I like the light ones which are easy to drape and dressy too even though I don't really wear them except may be once or twice a year !

Vinoba said...

Very nice post. Came cross it while I was looking to see if Mysore Crepe Sarees are the same as Mysore Silk Sarees. Are they?

Anonymous said...
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