This sari discovers its stylistic distinction and exclusivity in the style of its border and pallu. While in weaving its border Azeem Khan has followed to a great degree the border style of a Maharashtrian sari, a style common to all Maharashtrian saris, silk or cotton, in designing its pallu he has resorted to Paithani style. His sari uses the same heavy zari-brocading for its background, and silk thread, for discovering its design-motifs, as does a characteristic traditional Paithani sari. Zari-lines across the pallu’s breadth are a feature also of Mysore saris, however, while in Mysore saris such lines by themselves comprise the sari’s pallu part, in Paithani sari, as also in some other styles, such multiple zari lines, often rendered in courses and in varying breadths, as rendered in this sari, are invariably used as a subordinate feature used for framing the space allocated for principal designing motif.
This sari uses this feature with greater elaboration and magnificence. Besides framing the breadth with straight linear courses, those close to the main design-motifs also contain within them various patterns. Such patterns are repeated in varying sizes for framing the space between this main design-motif space and the borders on both sides. The squarish space that emerges within this linear frame surrounded by subordinate motifs contains the main design-patterns, each comprising a pair of peacock perching on a pedestal which stands on a pot-like motif and grows into a form which looks like a tree, all exceptionally stylised and conceived with geometric precision. These patterns, the main and the subordinate, woven with silk thread dyed in basic colours, red, green, purple being the main, are borrowed from Banjaras’ tribal art tradition.
In Paithani textiles, even in Paithani paintings, Banjara art forms have a significant role. Banjaras, an ancient nomad tribe, with a mind exceptionally creative and inclined towards art, had their seat around Aurangabad. Their primary occupation was carts-driving and their carts and hutments were their means of expressing their creative aspirations. They adorned them both – carts and hutments, colourfully and with various art forms revealing great taste. However, after Aurangzeb occupied Aurangabad around late seventeenth century, Banjaras were not only atrociously treated, more so their womenfolk endowed with rare beauty, but with a sense of insecurity grew among the traders their cart-driving business was completely destroyed. Hence, Banjaras migrated to various parts in Gujarat and Deccan, Paithan, a township near Aurangabad, being one of the main. Paithan, falling on trade-route linking central India to coast, was a centre of textile weaving. With their traditional occupation of cart-running destroyed, Banjaras resorted to weaving as their occupation and bread-earner. This association of Banjara tribe with the weaving industry of Gujarat, Paithan and other parts infused their art-forms and tastes into the textiles of these regions.
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.