Discover the truth about Paithani Sarees - Pride of Maharashtra

Published: 21st March 2011
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The richest sarees of Maharashtra - Paithani Sarees, are named after the town of Paithan near Aurangabad in Maharashtra. These are fine hand woven silk sarees known all over the world as a poem woven in gold and silk. The glorious Paithani sarees speak volumes about the rich cultured taste, skill and vision of the weavers. Oblique square-designed borders and a peacock depicted in the pallu characterize this saree.

The designs can be plain, spotted with designs on single colored as well as kaleidoscope-colored designs and the motifs are mainly inspired from the carvings at the Ajanta Caves like mango, peacock, lotus etc. The kaleidoscope effect is achieved by merging two colors, which are woven lengthwise and widthwise respectively.

The Tradition of paithani sarees

It was during Satvahana era, around 200 B.C., the art of weaving flourished in Paithan. Then the real paithani was hand-woven in pure gold/silver and silk, on a base of cotton. The base of silk evolved later, but the golden thread is no longer pure. Such is the intricate work done on a paithani saree that the weavers take from a month to a full year to weave one saree. Wearing a paithani saree on the wedding day is an age-old tradition, still followed in Maharasthrian women rampantly.


India can boast of perfecting the lengthy process and art of weaving including bleaching and dyeing, embroidering by hand, long before textile industry underwent modernization abroad. As the process of dyeing, separating the silk threads and weaving is a huge process, it involves the effort of an entire family. Thus depending on the type of delicate and complicated work involved in the paithani sarees, the prices can range between Rs.6000 to Rs.500,000, depending upon the quantity of design involved in the pallu and the border.

paithani sarees

The three main factors, based on which Paithani can be classified are:

 The Motifs: The motif is woven onto the pallu. This can be of three types - Bangadi Mor (peacock inside a bangle), Munia (parrot) brocade and Lotus brocade. The lotus brocade comprises of 7 to 8 colors. Bangadi mor motifs with a single dancing peacock are quite expensive.
 The Weaving: There are two styles of weaving that goes inside the paithani sarees, Kadiyal border sari and Kad/Ekdhoti. Kadiyal border means interlocking of the border and body color. The border has same color in the warp and weft, unlike the body, which has different warp and weft colors. On the other hand, Kad/Ekdhoti uses single shuttle for the weft, but the colors are different in case of weft and warp.
 The Colors: Three colors dominate the patterns of paithani sarees. They are Kalichandrakala, which is pitch-black saree with crimson border, Shirodak, which is a pure white saree and Raghu, which is a parrot-green saree. These sarees create a special light and shade effect, called dhoop-chaav, which is attained by merging two different colored silk threads when weaving. The shades that are used while weaving vary from vivid purples, magenta and peacock greens.

This ‘great saree of India’ from Maharashtras still uses natural sources for dyeing like different flowers, lamp soots, tree-skins and soils to bring out such attractive and luminous special colors.

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