Origin of a saree
A sari, saree or shari is a women’s garment from the Indian subcontinent that consists of a drape varying from 4.5 to 8 meters (5 to 9 yards) in length and 60 to 120 centimetres (2 to 4 feet) in breadth that is typically wrapped around the waist, with one end draped over the shoulder, baring the midriff.
There are various styles of sari manufacture and draping, the most common being the Nivi style, which originated in the Deccan region. The sari is worn with a fitted bodice commonly called a choli (ravike in southern India, and cholo in Nepal) and a petticoat called parkar or ul-pavadai. In the modern Indian subcontinent, the sari is considered a cultural icon. History of sari-like drapery is traced back to the Indus Valley Civilisation, which flourished during 2800–1800 BC around the north western part of the Indian subcontinent.
There are more than 80 recorded ways to wear a sari. The most common style is for the sari to be wrapped around the waist, with the loose end of the drape to be worn over the shoulder, baring the midriff. However, the sari can be draped in several different styles, though some styles do require a sari of a particular length or form. Ṛita Kapur Chishti, a Sari historian and recognised textile scholar, has documented 108 ways of wearing a Sari in her book, ‘Saris: Tradition and Beyond’.
Vale of Kashmir
Vale of Kashmir is an intermontane valley in western Jammu and Kashmir state, northern India. It is flanked by the main range of the Himalayas on the northeast and the Pir Panjal Range on the southwest. The Vale of Kashmir is an ancient lake basin about 85 miles (135 km) long, 20 miles (32 km) wide, and 5,300 feet (1,620 metres) high that is drained by the upper Jhelum River. Lined by mountains that rise 12,000 to 16,000 feet (3,600 to 4,800 metres), the vale is sheltered from the wet southwest monsoon. The population of the Kashmir region is concentrated in the valley, at the centre of which lies Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir. The valley was the resort of Mughal emperors, notably Jahāngīr, who reigned in the early 17th century and constructed picturesque gardens and buildings in the vale for his empress, Nūr Jahān.
Jamawar, or grown piece, is a special type of shawl made in Kashmir. “Jama” means robe and “war/var” is chest and metaphorically body. The best quality of Jamawar is built with Pashmina. The brocaded parts are woven in similar threads of silk or polyester. Most of the designs seen today are floral, with the kairy as the predominant motif. Historically handmade items, some shawls took a couple of decades to complete; consequently, original Jamawar shawls are highly valued. Modern, machine-made Jamawar prints, produced in cities such as Kashmir and other parts of Himachal Pradesh cost less to buy but handmade Jamawar are very expensive.
Origin and History of Jamawar
Traveling from Persia to Kashmir, this fabric reached the Indian subcontinent around five centuries ago, but this luxurious fabric reached its ultimate crest during the Mughal reign when Mughal emperor Akbar’s patronage gave way to this fabric in India.
Historically, Jamavar shawls were handwoven, and it used to take years and sometimes even a decade to finish weaving a single shawl. With the invention of Jacquard loom in the late 18th century, Jamavar became more affordable. The early 19th century saw major innovations in weaving. Skilled embroidery work and flawless weaves accentuated this fabric. However, by the end of 19th century, the art of Jamawar weaving began to fade away as the patronage of Mughals went down.
Historically, Jamavars were crafted out of pure silk and were exclusively worn by the royal and aristocrat class. Fortunately, with advanced technology and faster looms Jamavars are accessible to all nowadays.
‘Kasheeda’ is a Persian word meaning embroidery or drawing used mostly in the context of the hand embroidery done in the beautiful region of Kashmir, which traces its origin as early as eleventh century and till date forms one of the most refined form of embroidery for garments.
This precious art of embroidery gained its full glory during the reign of Sultan Zain-Ul-Abidin in the 15th Century, when mesmerized by the beauty of the embroidery practiced in the valley, he brought craftsmen from other regions like Iran and Afghan to add variety and refinement. This helped the household art of embroidery to become an industry for the region with patrons not just in the India, Asia but also as far as Europe, considering Europe was far in the 15th Century.
Kasheedakari, as it is popularly known as, takes its patterns and colour from the beauty nature has generously bestowed on the region in the form of birds, blossoms and flowers, creepers, chinar leaves, ghobi, mangoes, lotus, and trees. A signature motif for Kasheedakari comes from the maple leaves and lotus flowers in various vibrant colours along with the traditional paisley motifs.