One of the oldest and most glamorous garments in the world, featured in scriptures from the Indus Valley Civilisation in North-West India dating as far back as 2800 BC, is the sari which has provided humble creative expression for over 5000 years.
Ancient Hindu's even believed the stitching of fabric made it impure, resulting in the creation of unstitched handloom Indian saris, made from one long piece of delicate silk or cotton, stained in deep tones of indigo, red madder and turmeric.
Traditionally worn in a kachcha style, the sari cloth is draped around the waist of the wearer and passed between the legs, before being tucked in behind to provide freer movement. However, with growing influence from foreign cultures, the wealthier class of Indian women began seeking out garments embellished in materials like shimmering gold threads and precious stones, catapulting the Indian sari into an innovative and limitless space of printing and chemical dyeing.
What has resulted is endless experimentation, used to recreate its culture for every new generation of women and indeed the subject of today’s blog post....
What is a sari in today's world?
The sari now consists of a three-piece ensemble:
- Antriya (lower garment)
- Uttariya (a veil worn over the shoulder or the head)
- Stanapatta (a chest band)
The sari is carefully draped around the lower half of the body and folded across the top half of the body, creating a functional ensemble that creates warmth in winter and cools in summer. These garments are adorned in exquisite embroidery and rich colours, and are often paired with elegant jewels - a sign of status and modernity.
As one of fashion's longest-running stories, sari history has infiltrated modern trends with elements of its tradition being seen on international runways, in Bollywood blockbusters, and everyday streetwear.
What's next for the Indian sari?
With a garment that can be draped in over 100 ways, the possibilities of the Indian sari are endless; technological innovations in clothing production, global cultural inspiration and continuous accessibility to lower-income bracket communities. The sari is a prime example of the simplicity at its best.
What started as a symbol of modesty has become a celebration of Indian femininity. With over 80 variations of its classic style, the beauty of the sari remains ageless.