How does the saree come into existence?
The Saree has been a well-known symbol of women in India for over 5000 years now. Varying from region to region, this saree is known by different names. It is called chaniyo, parkar, or ghagra in western India. In the east, it is known as Shaya, pavadi, or padava in south India or Lahanga in the North. On the other hand, the blouse is commonly known as the choli or Ravika.
A Saree, sari, or Shari is one of the world’s oldest and the only unstitched garment from the past era that survives. It is the traditional attire of women of India. The word ‘sari’ originated from the Sanskrit word ‘Saadi’ which means a piece or strip of cloth’. In the history of Indian traditional wear, the saree traces back its origin to the Civilisation of the Indus Valley, which flourished during 2800-1800 BC around the part of the Indian Subcontinent that is northwestern. It is believed widely that the saree has been a part of Indian culture for thousands of years now and has evolved several times to its current form. Sari consists of a drape that is usually six yards in length. Earlier, the version of the saree was a simple piece of clothing, it was believed, that was wrapped around the waist and covered the legs. Over time, the length increased and it was made more comfortable to wear by adding more wrinkles.
It was said that cotton and the art of weaving the saree came into existence in India from the Mesopotamian civilization. There have been several changes in saree in terms of weaving, production, print types, how it is worn, etc.
Alongside the Indus Valley civilization, the journey of sarees began around 2800 BC and still dyes are used such as Indigo, turmeric, and lac.
Over time, the saree became an important symbol of the cultural identity of a woman and it denoted her social status and marital status. The style and types of saree worn by the woman generally vary depending on the region and the occasion on which it was born.
The people of Indus Valley Civilisation were familiar with cotton fabrics and they have worn pieces that were long, described as loincloths. These fabric lengths were worn in a style known as kaccha, meaning once drawn around the waist, one end of the cloth is passed between the legs and stuck up behind for facilitating the freer movement of the lower body and the legs.
With such a rich heritage, the sarees have withstood many transformations, whether cultural, economic, or technical. Saree is not only another attire but an extension of an Indian woman’s personality.
It is believed by some historians that as the dhoti of men is the oldest draped garment in India, it is the forerunner of the traditional saree. The single piece of cloth that is unstitched evolved due to ancient Hindu belief that stitching cloth made it impure. It is considered that the saree evolved from a three-piece attire that consists of unstitched pieces or stretches of cloth draped on the lower body, a band on the chest, and a piece worn over one's shoulder or head.
With the ability of a saree to be warming in winter, and cooling in summer, its appearance is stylish and professional too yet its utility is versatile, the saree is considered to be the most suitable wearable item for the women of South Asia.
The ancient poetry of Tamil, such as Kadambari and Silappadhikaramby Banabhatta, described women in exquisite saree or drapery. In the ancient Indian tradition, the navel of the human being is denoted to be the source of creativity and life which is the reason why the saree should leave the midriff bare.
While a professional or classical style of draping a saree does exist, there are so many variations of it across the subcontinent. If we look into the styles available of a saree, then there are pleatless Bengali and Odia style sarees, the two-piece Malayali ones, the Kodagu style saree that comes from back to front, and many more. The variations of a saree also exist depending upon the kind of fabric, as well as on the weaving methods that have been used. Hence there are also the tie-dye Bandhani sarees, Cotton chanderi versions, and the numerous other silk sarees that include the Kanchipuram, Mysore sarees, and Banarasi also.
While an international image of the modern style saree of the 21st century may have been popularized by the people, over the centuries, each region in the Indian subcontinent has developed its own unique style of sarees.
The beauty and charm of Indian women are eminent around the globe for their sheer grace, femininity, and captivating persona. For a nation like India that worships ladies as goddesses, a traditional saree goes on to be the as perfect dress for the ladies of India. Today, the saree remains an important part of the culture of India and is worn by women in their everyday wear as well as on special occasions. The material and styles used to make sarees continue to evolve but the basic design and style remain unchanged, largely, and are recognizable as a symbol of Indian culture instantly.