Paithani, popular for it’s unique art and tradition is the carrier of
a legacy for over 2000 years. Born in Paithan, the splendid capital of
Satvahana Dynasty in 200 BC on the banks of divine
River, Paithani grew under the patronage of the Satvahana dynasty of
kings. Later it progressed throughout the Deccan region. Paithani
uses the ancient technique of tapestry where multiple threads of different
colours along with gold and silver threads are weaved together to
form a fascinating piece of silk. In the distant past, Romans imported this
Golden Woven Fabric in exchange for gold of equal weight. The art of Paithani
survived under changing rulers. In fact it flourished under Aurangzeb, who
not only brought it back to its glory but also incorporated many novelties
in appearance. The well known floral motifs and AmarVell are contributions
from Mughal era.
The Nizam of
Hyderabad was also an ardent admirer of Paithanis. After decline of
Mughal influence, the Peshwas' of Pune once again took Paithani under
their wings by settling weavers in Yeola, a small town near Shirdi. Here
Paithani acquired new dimensions in both design and popularity. Asawali,
a motif of flowering vine is credited to the Peshwa period. Later, in
absence of royal patronage, Paithani remained an ignored textile form
of Maharashtra until the Government of India together with the Government of
Maharashtra and private enterprises took special interest in its revival.
Once again, Paithani is becoming an iconic art of the India
erasing borders of geography and religion.
Weaving elements of life
carries the cultural legacy of Maharashtra, has a special place in the life
of women who are the pillars of every family and society. The ancient
textile unites entire elements of life in the form of blessings and
protection to the wearer. It is made from natural silk or cotton with
precious gold and silver metal threads that gives Paithani the Midas
touch. Particularly, the motifs that set Paithani above all other
traditional fabric points to the special significance of living in harmony
with nature and its elements. Traditional motifs that are still popular
since its birth over 2000 years ago are derived from nature that forms
essential part of human life.
Bangle-Peacock motif (Bangadi-Mor) in which the bangle, as sign of Saubhagya,
represents completeness of the being of woman. Peacock, the bird of paradise
indicates beauty, royalty, wisdom, wholeness, dignity, love and is believed
to be a guardian. The Peacock also carries a sense of energy that comes from
its renewal of feathers every year. Its association with Goddess Sarswati
represents benevolence, patience, kindness, compassion, and luck.
The Muniya or
Tota-Maina motif symbolizes the parrot. Parrot is sign of love and passion.
Its red beak represents the red earth before the rain or the unfulfilled
desire and the green feathers representing the green earth after rains or
fulfilled desire, full of joy that forms indispensable part of human life.
The Lotus or
Kamal Pushpa is a motif that bears a close resemblance to the murals of Ajanta Caves located in Aurangabad, Maharashtra. It
is the sign of rebirth. The Lotus closes in the evening and falls into
water. But in the morning, it opens up lifting itself above the surface of
water. It also represents essence of life in addition to representing
royalty, beauty and purity.
border (Narali) was the most common Paithani border until the end of 19th
century. Coconut known as Sriphal in India is the fruit of gods. It
symbolises complete usefulness, selfless service, prosperity and generosity.
Coconut tree or Kalpvirshka is termed in Hindu mythology as the tree that
grants all wishes.
The added sense
of greater beauty and aesthetics in motifs such as Asawali, geometrical
figures, Amarvell and flowering wine were introduced with the passage of
time. Emperor Jahangir’s great love for nature and flowers brought many
symbolic designs to this textile adding another dimension to Paithani
in appearance and increasing its repertoire. Until the
nineteenth century, most borders of Paithani Sarees were rather
simple coconut or Pankha (hand fan) heavily woven with metal threads.
Brocade borders that incorporated various motifs with silk and jari quickly
became popular that gave unique identity to the Paithani saree.
Depending on design, details
and size, it takes an artisan one month to two years to weave a Paithani
Saree. Each Paithani Saree is a dedicated and painstaking work of an
artisan who incorporates his soul and heart in weaving every thread that
binds all elements of life in to the ‘one’ without which it is just another
fabric. As a legacy of love and care passed down from mother to daughter for
generations, Paithani holds its place as the most precious piece of
heirloom that every woman possesses.
of the Paithani
saree is the result of a painstakingly complex process of weaving beginning
from choosing raw silk and precious metals to the final product. A century ago,
fine silk imported from China and locally made Jari in which gold and silver
metal was woven around silk or cotton thread used in Paithani. Today, mulberry silk from
Bangalore and Jari from Surat are used. Natural dyes, known for having been
drawn for centuries, from vegetables, minerals, plants and rocks are used in
a combination that gives attractive colors to silk. The Raw Silk bundles are
washed followed by dying and transfer to the reels (asari) to separate each
thread before loading to the loom. Setting up the loom is a meticulous job
of careful handling where each thread is mounted to bring out the design,
color and details to convert these into a fabulous fabric. Ancient technique
of tapestry weaving where, warp and weft threads are weaved together using
handloom is still practiced which offers control over every thread and thus
making each Paithani saree special and different. The weavers use the
method of interlocking when more than one base color is used.
Once the loom is
set, there begins the journey of weaving each thread that binds elements of
life into one golden fabric. Using soft handmade cotton pins wound with silk
of desired colors and jari, an artisan with delicate fingers dedicates
himself to the path of eternal weaving that takes anywhere between a month
to two years.
motifs and jari, Paithani takes on a personality of her own and
awaits an admirer to become a family heirloom. The whole process is
painstaking and takes a toll on vision and bones of the artisan making his
life very difficult at times when most of us enjoy and cherish retirement
: Philosophy :
This miniature painting by
Rashmi Tapadia forms core philosophy of Touch of Class. It portrays a
Royal woman performing religious rituals while holding her child close to
heart. It depicts a royal touch in her attire, love of mother and devotion
to religion, culture and tradition being the pillar of a family.
Touch of Class
brings you a great legacy
of Culture, Tradition and Love that cannot expressed in a more beautiful and
Paithani is a
family heirloom worth caring for!