The sari is one of the world’s oldest and the only surviving unstitched garment from the centuries. Though a lot of changes has been in it over the centuries, it has not only become a sensuous, glamorous all time wear for women, but also the ‘canvas’ for weavers and printers to create artistic weaves, prints. Widely seen in countries like India, Srilanka, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh.
Historians say cotton and the art of weaving came to India from the Mesopotamian civilization. The men and women of the contemporary Indus Valley Civilization were therefore familiar with cotton fabrics and wore long pieces of material, which could best be described as loincloths.
The relics of all these civilizations, now available in seals and figurines, prove this fact. Women of most of these civilizations, it seems from available evidence, wore only such loin cloths, leaving the upper part of the body bare, except in winter when animal skins or woolen shawl-like garments were used for protection from harsh weather.
Gradually as the man and his knowledge towards fabric started growing, they started experimenting with other natural fiber like silk or jute etc.
The story behind the making of exquisite silk is as fascinating as the fabric. Behind every silk saris the sacrifice of thousands of silkworms and the sweat and toil of hundreds of men and women. Brocade Silk is one such fine example, which includes Banarasi saris or Kanchipuram Saris, known for there exclusivity worldwide. Indian Royal families have mostly been seen draped in their royal portraits, whereas cotton used to be favorite among peasants.
Then came the Independence era, where Mahatma Gandhi, introduced us to khadi, our own handspun fabric, to abolish the British govt. policies.
19-20th century has seen machine revolution, and introduction to the new fiber “Polyester” to the world, because of its low maintenance and high volume, its demand has always been high since its inception. And so been introduced polyester saris, addressing the needs of the mass market.
Whereas 21st century has given us Information Technology, cutting down lot of human involvement and executing work by computers, and never the less sari manufacturing has got the complete new assembly line, to cater the need of fast pace consumers.
It won’t be an exaggeration to say, the sari is the only attire in the world, which has gone trough constraint changes time to time, and yet been treasured.