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The Paithani remains to this day as exclusive and counted as it always has been.
Considered to be royalty among sarees, Paithani sarees hold a trousseau of Maharashtrian bride. Symbolising the spirit of true Maharashtrian culture, the ‘Queen of Silks’ is called so rightly because only royals and aristocrats wore it. Discover more about it with this history of Paithani sarees.
The Paithani sarees of Maharashtra speak of traditional finery that has sparkle and dazzle. A rich fabric that employs pure silk threads and silver dipped zari, it is a garish display that makes the saree both high-priced and special.
Origin and History :
The fine silk handloom sarees get their name from the town in which they originated ie Paithan in Aurangabad, Maharashtra and truly flourished during the era of the Mughals, particularly during the rule of Aurangzeb. He was known to punish Jamdani weavers in order to encourage Paithani and also introduced various novelties in the appearance of the traditional Paithani.
Paithani uses the ancient techniques of tapestry where multiple threads of different colours along with gold and silver threads are woven together to form a graceful and fascinating piece of silk. Delicate designs on pallu and border is a specialty of Paithani Sarees. Motifs on pallu are generally peacock, lotus, mango and other designs taken form Ajanta Caves. Traditional creative artistry and pain staking workmanship combine to form this unique cloth. Paithani Sarees can take between 2 months to years to manufacture.
Mainly raw material used for paithani is Silk yarn, Zari and colours. Preferably Filiature silk is used as warp and sidlaghatta or charakha silk is used as weft. Another major raw used in the production of Paithani Silk Saree is ‘Zari’ In the olden days the zari was drawn from pure gold, but today silver is replaced for gold, thus making the Paithanis more affordable.
A typical Paithani is heavy weight, bright colors, butti with pallov and solid zari border. Each Paithani is woven to a standard size of 6¼ yard which also includes ¼ yard blouse piece. One Paithani consumes about 500-575 gms. of silk and 200-250 gms of zari. A finished Paithani depending upon its type may weigh from 600-750 gms. The width of border ranges from 7 to 9 inch.
There are three types of silk that are used in making Paithani sarees
Charkha – the most common and widely used, but dull looking and quite uneven.
Ciddle gatta – the more expensive, thin, smooth, shiny and even variety
China silk – the really expensive one and sparingly used.
The third major attraction of the Paithani silk is using Vat dyes and Acid dyes and selecting from a range of 400 plus shades, the yarn is first bleached and then the dyeing process done. Powder dye is mixed well in the vat, acid mixed for fixing the colour and a little coconut oil added to give the softness and lustre. The yarn is then dipped in the mix, pressed downwards with copper rods to soak it well, then removed and washed several times, squeezed and finally put out to dry in shade.
Popular colours are red, yellow, lavender, purple, sky blue, magenta, peach pink , purple, green, black and white and mixes, that were once used in vegetable dyes. But with artificial dyes, this range has increased manifold.
Paithani sarees were once upon a time made in cotton, however, nowadays only silk is used. The handloom silk Paithani sarees are available in two varieties – Traditional Paithani and Brocade Paithani. The traditional variety with a 28-inch pallu design usually takes a lesser time to weave as the work is less intricate. Brocade Paithanis, on the other hand, have a complicated pallu design of 40 inches and hence, require a far more skilled weaver.