India boasts a vast and enduring handloom industry characterized by exceptional fabric quality, intricate motifs, and a distinctive weaving process. Among the exquisite sarees, Maheshwari sarees in Kolkata stand out as one of the finest. Originating from the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, these handloom sarees, initially crafted in silk, now come in multiple versions, including silk cotton, cotton, and wool. The origin of this exceptional handloom saree dates back to centuries.
Maheshwari sarees draw their name from the ancient city of Maheshwar, situated along the banks of the Narmada River. Weaving has been an integral part of the city’s heritage since the 5th century. During that time, Maheshwari handloom sarees were tailored specifically for the women of royalty. The patronage and support of the royal family played a pivotal role in bringing the exquisite Maheshwari handloom saree to life.
The Maheshwari silk saree has distinctive features that make it unique and exclusive. These sarees are crafted in five distinct forms: Chandrakala and Baingani Chandrakala, characterized by plain weaves, and Chandtara, Beli, and Parbi, incorporating striped and checkered patterns.
The silk and cotton threads are carefully selected for their quality and texture. The selected yarn is dyed in vibrant and diverse colours, ranging from maroon and magenta to green and violet. It is then arranged on the loom in a process called warping. The weaving process involves interlacing the warp (lengthwise) and weft (widthwise) threads on the loom. After the weaving process is complete, the saree undergoes finishing touches, which may include the addition of gemstones for embellishment and ensuring the overall quality and aesthetics.
The pallu of these sarees feature a reversible border, skillfully crafted with gold and silver zari threads. Besides gemstones, the sarees are further adorned with motifs woven in gold, silver, or coloured copper zari threads using the extra-weft technique. These motifs represent temple architecture and details from the Maheshwar Fort. Common motifs include mat, jasmine, cotton flower, swan, diamond, and the Narmada river. The intricate detailing and rich symbolism embedded in each Maheshwari Silk Saree contribute to its unparalleled beauty and cultural significance.
The enchanting beauty of this handloom saree is accentuated by a rich array of colours, including maroon, magenta, mauve, green, and violet. What sets them apart is the distinctiveness brought about by the five-colour stripes. Alternating between three coloured stripes and two white ones, these stripes create a visually captivating pattern. This dynamic interplay of vibrant colours and reversible borders enhances the versatility and charm of these exquisite handloom creations.
The widespread adoration for Maheshwari sarees in Kolkata is rooted in their lightweight quality. It is this reason that makes these handloom sarees the epitome of comfort and timeless elegance and hence makes them a preferred choice for women in all occasions.