(Written by : T.Sivakumar, Assistant Director (Insp.), SMOI, Central Silk Board, Bangalore and is a certified Black Belt holder in Six Sigma)
I have heard people talking about Paithani Silk sarees for years and in spite of working in Central Silk Board for 26 long years, I never had an opportunity to see it. Thousands and thousands of Silk sarees have been certified by me, which were meant for Exports and it is a wonder that I missed. Surprisingly most of my colleagues who work in this profession have not seen it.
The eyes were wide open and jaws dropped in wonder, for me and my colleagues, when a man opened the suitcase containing Paithani sarees. The designs were intricate and motifs very delicate and he explained that each saree making, using hand loom, consumes minimum of 3 months and can go on for upto two years also. The entire design is created by hand using interlocked-weft technique.
These were the most luxurious fabrics of the Mughal rulers and apparently even now are luxurious for the common man, as the prices range from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 5,00,000. The borders and pallus have elaborate designs and patterns either with silk or zari.
The sarees are rare because only few hundred weavers are left now holding on to the craft. There are only few customers who understand the intricacies and craftsmanship of making these elegant sarees.
These sarees used to be manufactured in western Maharastra and southern Madhya pradesh, but are now limited to the village Paithani(near Aurangabad in Maharastra), the saree name is derived from this, and its surroundings.
Without the patronage of the government and special care to protect this rare weaving art, one more heritage would vanish from the surface of the earth, forever.
The sarees are courtesy Taligar’s Diamond Paithani Saree Centre