Navlaee Silks & Paithani – Known as the House of Paithani in Pune

The Paithani of Maharashtra is not just a silk saree of gorgeous coloures, intricate design and painstaking labor. It is part of a culture. Among the most gorgeous of Indian saree is the Paithani, woven in the western state of Maharashtra.

It is believed that the Nizam of Hyderabad was also attracted to the Paithani and made several trip to the small town of Paithani. His daughter-in-law, Niloufer, is believed to have introduced new motifs to the border and pallav (outer end of the saree) designs.

It is fabric woven entirely on handlooms, disdaining to use even the jacquard or jala. Its special dhoop-chaav (light and shad) effect is achieved by bringing two different coloured silk threads together in the process of a simple tabby weave. It has an ornamental zari border and pallav, and butties(little designs) of tara(star), mor(peacock), popat(parrot), kuyri(mango), rui phool(flower)paisa(coin), pankha(fan), kalas pakli(petal), kamal(lotus), chandrakor(moon), narli(coconut) and so on.

Many of these designs are found on the border and pallav in different sizes and patterns. The designs show the influence of the beauteous panels of Ajanta close by. The dominant traditional coloures of vegetable dyes included neeligunji(blue), pasila(red and green), gujri(black and white),mirani(black and red), motiya(pink), kusumbi(purplish red)and pophali(yellow).

“The specialty of the Paithani is its border and pallav. Earlier just 2-3 coloures were popular which were integrated in the dhoop-chaav pattern which, when translated, means light and shad.” In the olden days the zari used in making Paithani more affordable to many people. The saree takes its own time to get woven, from two weeks to a year, depending on the intricacy of the pattern. The finer work being extremely taxing prevents more than three hours of sitting at the loom per day.

“The Paithani saree is an entirely hand woven item. Depending on the intricacy of the design, it takes anything from one month to a year to weave”. The traditional Paithani used to be a plain sari with a heavy zari boarder and ornamental pallav. “But today Paithanis with motifs are in vogue: stars, circles, peacocks, flowers and paisleys. The Paithani borders and pallavs are heavily adorned with these motifs and the saree is given the name after the design on it. Tota-maina (parrot), bangadi-mor (peacock with round design), asavali (flower and vine), narli(coconut), are all descriptive of Paithanis. For inspiration, the weavers turn to the myriad birds and flowers around them”.

We have even made Paithani fabrics for salwar-kameezes. “They are specially created for persons who do not wear sarees but would still like to wear the Paithani fabric in some from or the other”. Today traditional weaving may be on the decline, “but during the past three years there has been an awakening to the beauty of the Paithani saree. It is like a beautiful dream. Its classic beauty fascinates the connoisseur and since the Paithani weaver hands over his skills to his children, it goes on like a precious heirloom”. Human skills may have been replaced by machines. However, no machine-made fabric can compare with the hand-made beauty of the Paithani saree by the master craftsman of Maharashtra.

Preserving for your Paithani saree:

The price tag on the Paithani demands that utmost care be taken to preserve the fabric and its luster. The saree should not be kept in a cardboard box or plastic bags. Also, if possible, it should not be hung on a hanger. The best way is to keep it is wrapped in a muslin cloth. No perfume should be applied directly onto the saree; neither should menthol balls be packed with the Paithani saree. The saree should be roll presses and dry cleaned. There is no need to polish the zari often since it will weaken the saree.