India is a craft and culture-rich country. Its heritage is its glory. The admirers of Indian arts, craft, and literature have patronized it and are always making efforts to revive and restore it by intervening with its original form in some ways and making it relevant to the present. Indian handcrafted textiles had been a symbol of luxury and one such splendor is the Paithanisaree from Maharashtra. Paithani sarees in India have been an ultimate luxury always and was worn by the aristocrats because of their high craftsmanship and expensive raw material. Even in present times, only a niche class of society can afford it.
The craft traces back its history to two thousand years ago, hailing from the city of Pratishthan (Paithan), ruled by the Satvahana Dynasty in the Deccan. Paithani is a tapestry weave saree that flourished during the Mughal era, especially during the rule of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, though he ordered the weavers to weave only for his court and punished those who disobeyed him. In the later 19-20th century the Nizam of Hyderabad saved Paithani from being lost by ordering a large quantity of the tapestry and Begum Niloufer from the Nizam family contributed to a new motif named Humairparinda (pheasant bird). Earlier, Paithanisarees were an inherent part of a Maharashtrian bride’s trousseau but now is considered a jewel and must-have for brides’ trousseau across the country.
Paithani was weaved in filature silk and silver or gold zari. In the olden days, the zari was drawn from pure gold which made it a possession of the royals and the wealthy.In the days of Peshwas, the borders and the pallu were made of pure gold mixed with copper to give it strength. These features made it a luxurious fabric and paithani became synonymous with luxury. Paithaniis weaved using the tapestry technique in plain weave, which means that each motif on the fabric was exclusively made by hand and no two motifs could be the same due to the craftsmanship. No jacquard mechanism was used. This made each paithanisaree exclusive and high end. Because of the tapestry weave, the front and back of the saree look the same. The body of the saree could be zari and silk but the border and pallu had to be mainly zari. The weaving of a paithani could take three months to a year depending upon the complexity of the design.
Paithani sarees in India can be classified by three criteria- motif, color, and weaving. Traditional colors used in paithani were pure black, green, red, and pure white. Now, with the design intervention of various designers across the country like Asha Gautam, the colors are being experimented with and many more options are available. Traditional motifs that were used in Paithani were bangadimor (peacock in a bangle), munia brocade (parrot), asavalli (flowering vine), humairparinda (pheasant bird), narali(coconut), ruiphool(flower), etc.
As these sarees are made with the utmost care and love and high artistry, the storage, and care of this need to be taken care of. One should try and not wash the saree after every use. Dry cleaning only when necessary can be done and it should be wrapped in a soft cloth or mul. Asha Gautam strives to make exclusive Paithani sarees in India and give their clients the satisfaction of individuality and luxury. Understanding of its high craftsmanship and the emotions which are attached to it while purchasing the Paithani- makes Asha Gautam a delightful stop to look for the best Paithani sarees in India.