Which are some of the famous Bengali silk sarees?
The long-practiced culture of wearing a saree is now almost obsolete. Most women now prefer western clothes and move away from ethnicity. Silk Sarees being the most difficult to handle, is now quite hectic for working women.
Western dresses are more comfortable to wear and easily manageable in terms of washing and preserving them with proper maintenance.
But a silk saree has been an integral part of our heritage and culture since the ages of our great-great-grandmothers and generations back. It has been a part of the heritage and tradition of India. Bengalis without saying have been the connoisseurs of “laal paar Sada” saree. The grace and elegance carried by a woman in saree are still unparalleled and unique compared to every other cloth. The sublime beauty of a silk saree has influenced the West, too.
Silk Saree remains an indispensable part of Bengali festivals and other Indian occasions. There are various ways to drape a six-yard or a nine-yard saree. Silk sarees are the most important for occasions.
Over the years, the styles and types of silk sarees have evolved and been modified in Bengal. A silk saree radiates the personality of a woman and wraps an aura of subtle beauty in her movements.
The threads of original silk sarees are very costly, and along with it, the designs make it much more expensive. This is another reason why women do not so often use silk saree.
A significant part of the silk weaving is done in Murshidabad of West Bengal.
Types of Bengali Silk Sarees
1. Baluchari Silk
Baluchari Silk saree is one of the most important as it has originated on the banks of Ganga. This silk saree got its name from “Balu” char, the sandbanks. The saree was woven first in the place of terracotta temples, Bishnupur, thus becoming the birth-giver and the father of the Baluchari silk saree.
The history of the Baluchari silk goes back to the era of Malla rulers, where the weavers used to reside. As Bishnupur flourished during the time of the Mughals, that was the period when weavers came to weave the now famously known Bishnupuri silk saree.
These weavers who were spread across the district of Bankura were now congregating in a particular place. The motifs and designs by the architects on the temples of Bishnupur were reflected in the saree and its designs.
In Kolkata, now contemporary artists and designers, along with joint efforts of manufacturers, have again brought back the culture of Baluchari silk saree. The mythological stories were also woven on the Baluchari saree.
The designs of the Baluchari Silk has now changed as the original Bishnupuri designs were not documented or preserved. The cost of Baluchari Saree has now decreased than the earlier times because of the threads used are less costlier. They are mainly worn during weddings and festivals.
2. Tussar Silk
This saree has originated in a major part of Bengal, mainly the village of Gopalpur. They use warp yarns to make this silk saree, which is also known as “koria.”
The yarn is dyed by the weavers and artisans involved in the work to transform them into beautiful silk sarees later. These yarns are drafted with hook and undergo processes called left yarning to further. Also, the threads undergo the tie and die process. It takes nearly 1-5 days to complete a Tussar silk saree.
Tussar silk can cost between 2000 to 5000 bucks. In Bengal, Tussar silk is often made the base for Kantha silk saree. It is available in multiple colors and exceptionally contrasting colors. They are very suitable for occasions and are ever-growing. The fiber dates back to the days of Indus Valley Civilization!
These sarees are available in Phulia district of Bengal. These sarees need to be maintained and dry cleaned. It should not be directly exposed to the sun as the color may fade. The threads are generally course and give off a dual shade. They are elegant and comfortable to wear.
3. Swarnachari Silk
These silk sarees are said to be the sister of Baluchari silk sarees as they are woven using costly threads.
They date back to the dynasties of Nawabs and Mughals. They were very costly for their heavy designs, often depicting episodes of Bhagavad Gita and mostly the Mahabharata and Ramayana.
They can be used for wedding purposes. The golden zari work is infused in silk. Once, these sarees were a symbol of aristocracy in Bengal. Their prices range from 3000 to 10,000 bucks.
4. Murshidabad Silk
Murshidabad has been the hub of silk sarees, since Nawabs and Mughal eras. After the various conquests of different kings, they continued their legacy in different parts of Bengal.
Murshidabad was one following place which homed several weavers as it flourished in the economy and also temple designs.
The lustrous colors and thread for these sarees were woven by the framers who practiced sericulture and were dyed in contrasting colors. Murshidabad still holds the legacy of pure silk sarees and muslin silk sarees.
They are light weighted and easy to carry. They are usually embellished with modern designs that are suitable for both festivities or any small occasion.
Batik designs are popular on Murshidabad silk sarees.
5. Garad Silk
This silk type is the plain or off white ones, which are without any designs or motifs on the entire body of the saree. Just the anchal or pallu has a simple gorgeous border, mostly an ornamental one.
They usually come in the combination of red and white, which is very famous among Bengali women. They also have striped pallu sometimes, floral or very minimal designs are found on the pallu. They are the less flashy yet simply elegant silk saree.
Garad silk is extensively produced in Murshidabad of West Bengal.
They are often referred to as lightweight as tissue papers by women. The Garad Korial type of sarees refers to the pure white ones mainly meant for pujas or other auspicious occasions. The Garad Benarasi type is also available theta re a fusion of Benarasi design on Garad silk.
6. Batik Silk
Bartik art has found its traces far and wide, and it is said that the origin of the actual artwork is not known yet.
Though it is believed this art was started in a part of Indonesia as it gets its name from amba and titik, which means writing and dots, respectively. It was so-called because molten wax and dye were used for this art.
The molten wax was used to create blocks to block out areas on the fabric. The dye was later done just to leave out the places of the wax so that the other parts of the cloth retain their color.
The wax was used to make the designs as blocks were used to carve them out. Finally, the fabric is de-waxed, where the wax is washed out. These designs were not only used in saree but also in dupattas and other fabric for other purposes.
In west Bengal, batik was mainly revived in Shantiniketan by the poet Rabindranath Tagore who believed from his knowledge that batik art had its traces in India too.
Thus in Bolpur, he started the art again, and artisans began to use this art on silk sarees. Batik art is usually made on Murshidabad silk and sold. It is costly and quite famous for its unique design.
7. Ghicha Silk
This saree is made from the leftover of the Tussar silk base. The undyed part of the Tussar silk or the pieces which are left before the dye is used in Ghicha silk; thus, they are raw and have a great texture.
The Bengal Ghicha cotton silk sarees draw attention from across the world.it is a very classic type amongst silk sarees and can be worn on any occasion.
Ghicha surprisingly has the same texture of cotton but a little coarser and has a silky luster. They come in pastel shades and an incredible palette of colors.
8. Matka Silk
The Matka silk is widely known as the one with rough texture, unlike the smooth pure silk sarees.it is mainly woven in Murshidabad and Malda of West Bengal.
It is made from smaller silk fibers which are coated within the gum and spun with the hand it takes a lot of hard work to make Matka silk sarees as it is mainly handwork.
The gum is kept in this type o silk, and it does not resemble linen at all.it is quite coarse and thick though the thickness varies.they can be worn on occasions.
9. Kantha stitch work on Silk
Kantha work on silk was not famous until the 1940s. The widely known Kantha was once just restricted to our small homes where grandmothers or mothers used to weave clothes or the purpose of quilts or as clothes for babies.
Kantha stitch gives life to stories of mythology, flowers, designs, and other motifs.this designs might or might not have a symmetry.they are stitched on silk sarees.
So these are mostly all the types of silk sarees founds in significant parts of West Bengal. Please let us know more information in the comments.