Mystical Maheshwaris

    Wouldn’t it be magical to be draped in a fabric that would give you the luxury of basking in thecooling comfort of softcottonswhilstenjoying the sheer rich brilliance of silk!Indeed, Maheshwaris make this one dream come true.This fabric that was made for royalty is back with a bang to woo us all with its glory, sheen and elegance.

    Woven on the banks of the holy river Narmada, in the times of Rajmata Ahilya Devi Holkar at her capital Maheshwar in the 18th century under whose administration the complete expanse from nearly Punjab in the north to Tanjavurin the south prospered and flourished. Trade, architecture, agriculture,artsand craftsall thrived in thereign of this mighty Queen. She invited weavers from Mandu to teach her people the craft of weaving.

    The nine yard Navari sari was first to be made in the hand-run looms of the weavers, the warp being cotton and zari from Surat. Experimenting with using cotton and silk threadstogether, this exquisitehand spun cloth took the form of a royal textile. Saripallus mostly had stripes of red, white and gold zari with motifs like diamonds, flowers, bricks and waves striking a chordwith designs and motifs taken from the art work and patterns reflecting the walls of the majestic fort, temples and ghats.

    The Garbha-reshami sari, the most popular form of cotton and silk weave was a feast for the eyes. Being light in weight, it was extremely easy to drape with a lovely fall. Some other types woven were known as Chandrakal, Baingani Chandrakal, Chandratara, Beli and Parbi.An interesting fact about this sari is its reversible border that makes it possible to be worn both sides. Colours as vibrant yellows, peacock blues, emerald greens and royal reds with an Indian dye known as ‘aal’ added to its beauty.

    Initially it served the purpose of being gifted to members of visiting royal families and were also used by the ladies in the royal court themselves. The Holkars were the traditional patrons and looked after the welfare of the weavers.

    Over the years, with decrease in royal patronage, the weavers were out of jobs and the looms became silent. The Holkar descendantsalong with the State Government of Madhya Pradesh then began the REHWA society in 1979 with the aim of empoweringwomen in Maheshwar, making them the weaversalong with their male counterparts and reviving the enchanting legacy of the Maheshwari yet again.

    Contemporary designs in vibrant colour combinations walked hand in hand along with the traditional designs woven by kargas or handlooms giving it a new lease of love amidst the people not only in India, but all over the world. Nowseen in the forms of dupattas, shawls, stoles and dress materials, it has found numerous new connoisseurs who love to flaunt these treasures.

    The fabric is so enchanting that all silhouettes look charming. Whether you are petite or buxom, being draped in a Maheshwari you exude both grace and glamour.The Saffron Saga is proud to be associated with the weavers from Maheshwar, the mecca of the Maheshwari sari. They are also associated with the REHWA Society and promote their products.

    The new entrants, the shawls are light, thin yet warm with an interesting silk and wool weave combination. Colours with corals, greens, blues with golden stripes add on an edge of lustre.

    The clickety-clack of the hand run looms, hands in perfect synchronisation and the feet tapping to and fro, one at a time, colourful threads all around, the dobby on top giving the precise graph and design that would emerge below giving a vision to the weavers imagination. It is exciting to see this Queen’s creation being celebrated each year on her birthday, a big festival in Maheshwar by making a kilometre long Maheshwari Sari.

    Each day, a weaver dreams and there emerges a masterpiece. With the world as our stage, the arclights always shine bright on these mesmerising magical mystical Maheshwaris who are true showstoppers and fashion statements to make since times immemorial.

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