Textile tour of India Y, Z

Textile tour of India Y, Z

We have come to an end of our textile tour of India with the letters Y & Z. It has been a super fun ride for us to do this with @theindianheritagehut. We are so thankful for her enthusiasm and perseverence in finding crafts for every letter in the alphabet. 

Y for Yeola’s Paithani

I was struggling to find a craft starting from Y, when it suddenly struck me. How can I forget my most favourite weave Paithani. It belongs to Yeola. I was so thrilled that finally I am able to weave all my favourite weaves through this alphabet series. 

Paithani - it's just not a sari or a piece of cloth for any Maharashtrian girl.. it's a dream...a dream of owning a traditional paithani, moving fingers through its finely woven motifs, experiencing the touch of smooth silk on your skin and dazzle into it feeling like a royalty ... a maharashtrian wedding is incomplete without a paithani.

Paithani gets its name from the place to which this craft belongs- 'Paithan', a town in  Aurangabad district, . Paithan known as 'Pratishthana' was the capital of Satavahana Empire in times of Ruler Shalivahana. This was the time when cotton and textiles were greatly exported from his empire to foreign countries and is also said to be the time when the Paithani saree developed.

Pitambar and Paithani were the two highly treasured textiles of this region, so exclusive that they have been referenced in the epic Mahabharata describing the love of Krishna for Draupadi. When once Draupadi accidentally cut her finger, Lord Shree Krishna had torn a piece from his precious Pitambar cloth, to tie her bleeding finger!

The Peshwas, the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, and the Nizams patronised Paithani and contributed to its flourish and glamour. 

A major turn in the history of Paithani is the shift in its manufacturing centre from Paithan to Yeola during the Peshwa period. Like other Indian textiles Paithani had a setback with the advent of the industrial revolution and the British rule in India. In the late 19th century, a Sardar from Yeola, Raghuji Naik along with a trader Shyamji Walji brought a few weavers from Paithan to Yeola. Since 1980 Paithani weaving has taken a rebirth in the town of Yeola. 

Yeola Paithani

Image credit: Bendke Sanskruti Paithani

Paithani signifies the finesse of Indian handloom. It is crafted from homegrown silk threads from Bangalore, while the zari is sourced from Surat. Traditional motifs include parrots, peacocks and lotuses; however, during the Peshwa period, Hans (swan), Ashraffi (coin) and the Asawalli were equally popular. The pallu usually consists of Muniya, a kind of parrot that is woven in the borders in green, with a whimsical touch of red at the mouth. Some of the other designs found on the pallus include the Panja, a geometrical flower-like motif most often outlined in red, the Barwa, that consists of twelve strands of a ladder and three strands on each side, and the traditional Mor (peacock).

Paithanis can also be categorised as per their colours -

Kalichandrakala - pure black sari with red border.

Raghu - parrot green coloured sari.

Shirodak - pure white sari

uddani (lighter black),

pophali (yellow),

neeligungi (blue),

kusumbi (a purple and red combination)

My favourite is kali chandrakala. 

Info credit - Vogue, Unnatti silks, 

Z for Zardozi

And now to the last alphabet of the series. 

“zar” meaning gold and “dozi” meaning embroidery. So Zardozi is embroidery with metal threads to weave in embellishments onto various fabrics. The art travelled from Persia to India along with the Mughal Invaders. 

Lucknow is famous for its zardozi work and even has got the GI tag in its name, but its exact origin is not yet known. Cities like Hyderabad, Delhi, Agra, Kashmir, Kolkata, Varanasi and Farrukkbadare are also known as Zardozi specialty regions.

Zardozi found its earliest mentions in Vedic literatures, the Ramayana, and the Mahabharata. The original process was known as “Kalabatun”. It used silk threads wrapped in real gold and silver wires to decorate satin and velvet fabrics with opulent embellishments such as sequins, beads, precious and semi-precious stones and pearls etc. At its peak, it was used in the Mughal Era by  royalty to adorn tent walls in the form of tapestries and wall hangings, as well as on accessories for elephants and horses.

Zardozi making in progress

Image credit: Behance

Zardozi creations are timeless designs that are painstakingly crafted by hand. The process begins by tracing out the design on the chosen fabric, usually silk, organza velvet or satin, by poking it with a needle and outlining the entire pattern. The fabric is then fixed over the addaa, or the wooden frame, to ensure that the fabric does not move. This necessitates the craftsmen to sit cross-legged around the addaa with a variety of tools, including needles, curved hooks, wires, threads, sequins, gems and beads, at hand’s reach.

Zardozi tools

Image credit:

The embroidery is then done with the help of the needle that follows the basic design. Depending on the design and the intricacy, the work can take about 10 days to complete.

The inspiration for all motifs has always been nature. From flowers, leaves and trees to animals and birds, the national ecology of India seeps into all Zardozi embroidery.

Info credit - Utsavpedia, vogue

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