Paithani – The Majestic Sari (From Maharashtra, India)



The term ‘Paithani’ is derived from the name of the Aurangabad town, ‘Paithan’ (Maharashtra, India). This brand sari is deemed as a rich ornate sari.




The origin of ‘Paithani’ sarees can be traced back to approximately 200 BC! It is commonly believed that there were expert craftsmen in the city of ‘Paithan (which was then known as ‘Supratishthapuram’) during that period and they were skilled in the creation of ‘Paithani’ sarees. Again it is a popular belief that during the primeval period (roughly 200 to 400 BC), superbly created ‘Paithani’ sarees which were woven with fine threads of silver and gold were traded as a barter item for gold in Greece. In our time, ‘Paithani’ work is done using ‘zari’, instead of pure gold cords. ‘Paithani’ work draws inspiration from the majestic Buddhist paintings, as ‘Paithan’ city is situated close to the ‘Ajanta Caves’. As a matter of fact, ‘Paithani’ craft prospered during the reign of Aurangzeb; the ‘Flower Designs’ and the ‘AmarVell’ are the evocative images of the Mughal period. It should be specially noted that the ‘Pune Peshwas’ and the ‘Hyderabad Nizam’ supported Paithani’ very much. The ‘Asawali’ design (blooming vines) stems from the ‘Peshwa’ period.





Paithani technique


Both ‘zari’ and ‘silk’ are used for the creation of ‘Paithani’ sari. The warp consists of superior silk and weft contains delicately twisted silk. For the creation of designs, dyed silk is used in general. The process starts with the cleaning of the basic silk using ‘caustic soda’ and then it is colored with the selected dye, and after that, the cords are sorted out meticulously. Afterwards the dyeing and drying processes are carried out. Again this is cleansed using cold water; this is done to bring in smoothness and glossiness to the product. The next process is coiling the silk cords on the ‘Asari (reel)’; this should be done in a meticulous manner and usually carried out by women. Then it is moved to the ‘Kadi’ and from there shifted and fixed in the looms. It is a long-drawn-out process and will take almost one full day! The primordial weaving method of ‘Tapestry’ is employed here and handloom is used for this. The ‘weft’ and ‘warp’ cords are jointly woven. Other cords of various colors (including golden and silver colored threads) are also weaved in concert with this. The final product will be an attractive ‘Paithani’ sari!




Recognizing Paithani:


The key noticeable traits of ‘Paithani’ sarees are the manually created ‘borders’ and the ‘pallu’ that is decorated with golden ‘zari’. Besides, the backside will also have identical images.


There will be lattice on the backside and this is another point to note for identifying ‘Paithani’. If the material is too glossy and a single design is excessively colored, then it may not be an authentic ‘Paithani’ stuff.




Paithani motif types:


There are nine different varieties of ‘Paithani’ designs and all of them are exceptionally alluring.


  • Kamal (Lotus flower)  

  • Hans Motif (Swan)

  • Ashraffi Motif (Coin)

  • Asawalli (Blooming Vines)

  • Bangadi Mor (Peacock inside Bangles)

  • Tota-Maina (Parrot) 

  • Humarparinda (Peasant Bird)

  • Amar Vell (Vine)

  • Muniya (Parrot)


The designs will be small as far as the main part of the sari is concerned, and normally the figures for creating such designs will be ‘Kuyri’, ‘Circles’, ‘Rui (small flower)’, ‘Chandrakor (clusters of 3 leaves)’, ‘Stars’, ‘Kalas Pakhhli’, etc.



Paithani types:


The precise grouping of ‘Paithani’ sarees can be done based on two different norms: ‘designs’ and ‘dyes’




1. ‘Bangadi Mor’: In this design there will be an image of a peacock inside a bangle outline; generally there will be only one peacock (in dancing mode). The design will be interlaced with the ‘Pallu’. The ‘Paithani sari’ with this design will be pricey.





2. ‘Munia Brocade’: The term ‘Munia’ denotes ‘Parrot’. Here the designs will have green color and these are interlaced with the ‘border’ and ‘pallu’.





3. ‘Lotus Brocade Paithani’: The ‘Pallu’ of this brand will have the designs of ‘lotus flower’ that are created using seven or eight different colors; in some cases, the same can be seen in the border also.




4. ‘Koyari/Kairy’ or ‘Mango Paithani’: In this model sarees there will be the designs of ‘Koyari Vine’ or ‘Parrot’.




5. ‘Geometric Design’ or ‘Akruti Paithani’: Here either the ‘pallu’ has the design of a peacock inside a geometrical shape, or the border bears a geometrical vine pattern.




6. ‘Asawali Paithani’: This is a flower vase with attractive flowers. In ‘Asawali Paithani’ sarees the borders will be bedecked with the designs of such flower vases or vine patterns.






Kalichandrakala’: The sheer black color and the red border is the special feature of this sari.




Raghu’:Green colored Paithani sari




Shirodak’:This is a plain white Paithani sari.




Interesting Facts:


  • The weight of a ‘Paithani’ Sari will be usually somewhere in the region of 1.45 kg (precisely in accordance with the usage of ‘zari’ and ‘silk’).

  • The process of manufacturing a ‘Paithani’ Sari is a lengthy one and consumes almost 18 to 24 months. The period can vary in concordance with the intricacy of the created design.

  • In the bygone period (during the reign of Peshwas, the Maratha Kings), a rich blend of real gold and copper was used for creating ‘pallu’ and ‘borders’. The purpose of adding copper was to give firmness to the material.

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