Sarees and Bengal are synonymous. The seat of culture in India is also one of the largest producing and exporting states of Sarees. In this article, we will look into 5 Sarees from Bengal that are simply exquisite and make them prized possessions.
The pride of Bengal, ‘Tanter-Saree’. This traditional Saree is a must in every wardrobe of Bengali women. Known for its light and airy weaving, it is famous for being best suited in warm and humid regions. With a history, that can be traced back to the 15th century Bengal, in the district of Nadia. The art of ‘Tant’ weaving especially flourished in the Mughal rule from the 16th to 18th century. During this time rich patrons came forward with intricate ideas and the weavers executed those ideas perfectly. More than five variants of this Saree are present in modern-day Bengal (region wise weaving styles). The complex designs of the various motifs that are woven on the borders and ‘pallu’ make these Sarees one of a kind.
The small village of ‘Baluchor’ in the Murshidabad district of West Bengal lit up in the 18th century when the then Nawab of Bengal, Murshid Quli Khan brought this style of weaving from Dhaka. Woven from locally cultivated mulberry silk, these Sarees boast of being 7 yards of pure history. The various motifs woven into the ‘pallu’ and borders contain various historical references and religious texts. However, the Nawab had initially introduced motifs of ‘Nawabi’ culture, containing depictions of ‘hookah’ smoking or the lavish grandeur of court. Now the whole industry has shifted to Bishnupur owing to continual flooding of the ‘Bhagirathi’ river (in doing so giving it a tag of ‘Bishnupuri’ silk). The contribution of artist Subho Thakur and master weaver Akshay Kumar Das is worth mentioning in reviving this old and rich tradition in the 20th century.
The traditional silk of Bengali women. The term ‘garad’ refers to the undyed silk used in the manufacturing of these sarees. These Sarees are characterised by their white/off-white body and a red border (‘lal-par’ Saree). However, various other colours are also being used now for the border. Hailing from the district of Murshidabad, these sarees have a special spot in the hearts of Bengali women. Owing to their light weight and ease in carrying these smash-hit Sarees is a must in every wardrobe. Korial sarees are an upgradation to ‘garad’ silk. Some even go on to say that Korial sarees are the gorgeous makeover of ‘garad’. Unlike the traditional ‘garad’, these Sarees have ornamental borders with motifs drawn on the border and ‘pallu’ or even on the body of the Saree. Both these Sarees with undyed silk is often seen as a symbol of purity. Thus is worn on all auspicious especially religious occasions.
The district of Malda is the hometown of Bengal’s ‘Tasar’. They are one of the largest silk producers in the country. Known for their woven floral and paisley motifs all over the body, this Saree has a very crisp texture giving it an added aristocratic look. This silk is mainly obtained through large-scale silkworm culture, now present throughout West Bengal. This variant of silk is now very popular and is being used in various embroidery works. From solid colours to beige and off-white, these sarees are one of the most sought after variants by collectors (all women).
If you have not heard of Bishnupuri/ Murshidabadi pure silk, then probably you have missed out one of the most famous variants of silk throughout the world. Some of the most luxurious and elegant sarees are made in Murshidabad district of West Bengal. Largely famous for its solid colour variants, with various printed patterns on the ‘pallu’. The shiny look of these Sarees is truly a captivating sight that enthrals the mind of any person. The booming sericulture industry in Murshidabad dates back to the ‘British Raj’. The British and the erstwhile East India Company were instrumental in setting up factories and export lines for the silk in Bengal that automatically gave a thrust to this saree making industry. Ready your shopping bags women, get ready to look elegant in a Saree, the ethnic wear of Bengal.
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