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Textiles > Saris > A Classic of India’s Dress-vocabulary
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A Classic of India’s Dress-vocabulary

A Classic of India’s Dress-vocabulary

A Classic of India’s Dress-vocabulary

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Pure Silk Net
Designer Suman Kumar

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A Classic of India’s Dress-vocabulary

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Viewed 22219 times since 1st Jul, 2010
An excellent example of rare craftsmanship, which does not seek itself – its merit or charm, in the variety of its designing patterns, or the material used in rendering them, this brilliant piece, an untailored textile structured with highly sophisticated visual vocabulary using just a few of its syllables, is India’s timeless classic, a sari, a wear that her womenfolk have used since times unknown. Sari’s earliest known examples are seen in yakshi statues datable to fourth-third century B.C. The sari, as ‘antariya’ – an unstitched length of textile worn by ladies on body’s lower half, has a massive presence in Ajanta murals of the period from first to sixth century. No two textile lengths at Ajanta are seen sharing a common design-pattern or colour-scheme. Unlike a tailored garment’s good fitting which reveals a figure, frail or fat, in its exactness, sari is an imaginative wear which one wears to one’s fancy, to add to the volume of a frail figure, or relieve it of its awkward bulk. And, this has perhaps helped sari sustain as the most loved feminine wear in Indian subcontinent and is still an Indian woman’s pride.

This sari has been designed using beads-embroidery on pure Varanasi silk net, a fabric elegant in appearance, delicate in feel and tough in use, especially in supporting on it the volume of the embroidered patterns. True that the silk net has not been a common weave except as and when specially ordered, Varanasi has a centuries’ old tradition of silk weaving and brocading and many families engaged in the trade are weavers for generations. Suman Kumar, the distinguished textile designer, has chosen the net-weave for, formless as it is, it affords the embroidered patterns and designs optimum scope for displaying a form, its beauty and wealth. A work of fine needles, striving for finish, uniformity, precision, beauty and distinction, the designer’s hands must have worked on it for a longer period and with more affectionate concern than the weaver’s. Perhaps believing as most designers do that the essential objective of the dress-designing is that it magnified the beauty of the wearer’s figure instead of overshadowing it, Mrs. Kumar has opted, besides the kind of weave, a colour, a blend of pink and light saffron, for her fabric that instead of concealing the lustre of wearer’s figure infused into it further glow.

The field has been adorned with uniformly designed two flower-motifs embroidered all over from one end to other. One of them, a larger one, is a rose motif as used traditionally in embroidery, textile printing, tiles and in designing other artifacts; the other one, very small in size, is a flower of Maulasiri, a large evergreen tree producing nose-ring like small flowers. While the rose-flowers have been created by using just the glass beads, all forms – petals and stigma conceived of it, the mini Maulasiri flowers have been designed using in the centre a dazzling diamond – a cut-stone with diamond-like brilliance, for stigma, and a ring of glass-beads, looking like its petals, around it. The rows of roses have been laid in straight vertical lines but each one also has a 60 degree angular ascent, and that too, both ways from right to left and vice versa. These linear perspectives are mesmeric. Once the eye reaches any of the flowers, it begins dragging it into one direction or the other with the result that the journey of eye continues till it has traveled across the whole series. Dazzling diamonds of Maulasiri flowers are really dazzling. The sari’s border, as wide as ten centimeters, is an almost new addition. The designer has first appended to the textile’s border part a strip of deep pink velvet and then has laid over it a floral creeper motif in repeat pattern. Largely an abstract pattern, it comprises flowers, leaves and stems. Strangely, the entire border, the two lengths, and the breadth on the pallu’s side, has been conceived, designed and created by using just glass-beads and still its beauty is unparalleled. The velvet parts revealing from the gaps between any two embroidered forms, like relief design, create their own design-diction.

In its dazzling beauty the pallu surpasses the entire sari and its every part. It has been designed by exclusively using glass-beads and diamonds – polished and chamfered cut-stones having diamond’s brilliance. The pallu has been conceived and designed with just a couple of plant motifs, one over the corner, and the other, preceding it, where the pallu begins. The plant drawn over the corner stretches with three branches, two, along the border on breadth and length, and one, in the centre. It comprises thirteen flowers besides leaves, branches and shoots. The plant towards the middle part has a more natural rise. This too has three identical branches but they do not creep along the border but show a vertical rise. It comprises fourteen flowers. All flowers, branches and shoots, in both plant motifs, are composed mainly of diamonds.

This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.

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