Bengal is famous for its handloom silk saris. Fine, smooth, of good texture, airy and light on the body, the Bengal Silk Saree is preferred for almost any occasion from daily casual to traditional occasions, social functions to grand parties and weddings.
Prominent among the silk handloom saris of Bengal is the Baluchari and the Tangail Jamdhani. Fine count quality weaves, each has its specialty. The appeal of the Baluchari Saree lies in its colour harmony. Colours preferred are red, green, yellow, blue and their shades. Silk brocade designs suited to the base colour, are decorated with attractive motifs. The Pallav or Pallu is generally adorned by folk lore or mythological themes. Balucharis are made from silk. With silk brocade designs suited to the base colour, they are decorated with attractive motifs. One of the major themes that adorn the Pallav or Pallu of the Baluchari Saree are mythological stories depicted on the walls of the terra cotta temples that the Malla rulers had built and are located in present day Bengal. The Malla dynasty rule had influenced motifs and the narratives from the Indian epics Mahabharata and Ramayana were obvious subjects for depictions on the thematic pallus. Today floral motifs are very popular. Many figured patterns have also been introduced. Baluchari Sarees are preferred as soft and comfortable wear, for their fine weave and stylish looks. Some popular themes of today as flower bunches, animals, court scenes of an earlier era, boat etc. adorning the Baluchari Saree make them most attractive and apt for a variety of occasions; be it wedding ceremonies, parties, grand functions, social gatherings or as corporate wear.
The current trend of increasing use of organic materials, has found its way into the experimental manufacture of the Baluchari Organic Sari. Fine blends of cotton with both banana fibres and bamboo shoots replace the silk yarn, while acidic dyes have been substituted with dyes made from extracts of fruits, vegetables, leaves, turmeric etc. Jamdhani hand weaving is a necessary accompaniment for Bengal Silk sarees where cotton and gold thread weaving create motifs of geometric patterns and floral designs in colourful hues. Dhania Khali and thangail are popular weaving styles and the sarees like the Thangail Jamdhani weave have popular motifs like Nature, the sun, the moon and stars.
A Baluchari Sari was once worn only by women from the upper class and landlord families in Bengal during festive occasions and weddings. Today it is widely worn without distinction in many parts of the country on various occasions. Post-independence revival by a person named Subho Thakur, through the weaving skills of Das, a weaver from Bishnupur and knowledgeable in this art form, restored the glory of this fine weave once again. This time round the Baluchari Saree once hand-woven, was tried out on Jacquard looms and the success of the experiment is now for all to see in the current weaving method of this art weave. The Baluchari saree has won the Presidential award on two occasions for its weaving style and has been prominently displayed in international trade fairs.
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