Maheshwar in Madhya Pradesh, India is known for its exquisite and finely woven Maheshwari sarees. The Maheshwari Saris are exclusive for their unique designs on silk and cotton fabrics and their blends, with a fine use of zari.
Distinctive features of the Maheshwari cotton Sarees are the light weight, shiny lustre, and a fine display of colours, with brilliant motifs, an attractive Pallu and a border to match. The saree is known for its brilliant display of stripes, checks and exquisite floral borders with complementary contrast borders and tantalizing wide zari borders.
The Pallu is particularly noted for the colourful stripes in varied colours such as green, pink, magenta, mauve, violet etc. which lend the fabric a mesmerising look. The border is also adorned by trendy designs and themes such as the Maheshwar fort and related objects. Some of the popular patterns in use even today are that of mat, Chameli flower, brick and diamond. Though worn for exclusive events it it also serves for a variety of occasions. Once aimed at export markets and regal clientele, the use of silver zari made it affordable and widely popular even in domestic markets. A special variety of the Maheshwari Saree called the ‘Bugdi Kinar’ with the specially stitched reverse border is an attractive and widely sought one.
A sustained traditional fabric, light and lustrous, the Maheshwari cotton sarees have captured the imagination of the market, with its innovative patterns and exemplary workmanship.
Rani Ahilyabai Holkar is supposed to be instrumental in the innovation of the design for the Modern Day industrialization had at one time threatened the existence of the Maheshwari Sarees. A descendant of the Holkars came as a God-send and the Rehwa Society was established in 1978, primarily for employment to women and encouraging the revival of this ethnic art. Located in a historic building of the town, more than 100 weavers, mostly women, are engaged in the weaving of this fine fabric. Their families get the much needed monetary aid and support services like healthcare from this mutually beneficial association.
The Maheshwar loom has the buttas or motifs and the borders made on the shuttles involving an intricate system of weaving. Coupled with dedicated introduction of innovations it has given the Maheshwari Sari its pride of place as one of the finest traditional fabrics that has survived the test of time and regained its former glory. Elegant geometrical block printed motifs on the Maheswari cotton sari having a zari patti border is a refreshing change and makes comfortable wear through the day. It suits corporate office goers, college professors and those engaged in similar professions. It is also preferred for festivals and traditional occasions. Maheswari silk cotton sarees decorated with thread embroidery, kundans and beads are stylish and could be worn for conferences and social gatherings. The printed Maheswari Sico sari with its patch border and zari pallu is most alluring wear and an eye-catching proposition for parties.
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