The Story of the Saree
The Indian popular wear called as 'saree' or 'sari' has been in
existence for more than 5000 years which is mentioned in the Vedas. According
to few historical records of India , during Shunga period of 200 - 50 B.C,
north Indian terracotta depicts a woman wearing a saree covering the entire
body. In Maharastra, Murals and demi-gods of total gods of the Ajanta caves are
two representations of women wearing sarees draping around the entire body.
According to the costume historians, dhoti was worn by both men and women till
14th century. 1st-6th century CE sculptures show goddesses and dancers wear
dhoti of fishtail version. Some versions of the history of Indian clothing
trace the sari back to the Indus valley civilization, which flourished in
It is the basic wear of rural people of India . The name 'saree'
is derived from the Sanskrit word 'Chira' which means cloth. To suit the local
conditions, it is designed by the Indian people in the earlier days. Ancient
western historians thought about this saree that there were cloth growing trees
in India . The length of it varies from 5 to 9.5 yards and it is draped around
the entire body.With the simple trial, we can turn it either as a working dress
Middle class women wear 5-6 yard saree which is comfortable to
them to do their household work. Rural women at the time of their work, tuck
the same length above the ankles. If they need to work in fields, they tuck the
front pleats between the legs to the back, and tie the upper portion round the
In ancient days, a nine yard saree used to be worn by the Indian
woman with embroidery, embellishments and gold designing. It was worn in the
way of working saree. A gold silver or cloth was fixed firmly to keep pallu,
upper part of pleats and folds in tact. This type of dress was worn by the
famous female historians especially at the time of war who are like Jhansi 's
queen Laxmi bai, Kittur Chennamma, Belawadi Mallamma etc. Tight tucking of the
front pleats in the back was called 'Soldier's tuck' or 'Veeragacche'.
Generally the Indian climate is warm. So, Saree is more suitable
for this subcontinent. One ancient statue shows a man in a draped robe which
some sari researchers believe to be a precursor of the sari. In olden days, men
also wear a dress like saree called 'dhoti'. In those days, there was hardly
any difference between Saree and dhoti. Men also liked to wear colorful Sarees
with brocaded borders could perhaps be interchanged in needy times. The upper
portion of the saree-length which covers the chest is only missing.
Tales of Sarees
Saree Tales The modern Saree belongs to the nivi family. These
drapes are wrapped around the body from bottom to the top, leaving a bunch of
pleats in front. In the kaccha, a family of Sarees worn in Maharashtra, the
upper kaccha, pleats are passed between the legs and tucked at the back. In
earlier times, most drapes were dhoti. Cloth is tied round the waist in the
middle of its length, and each side is wrapped around each leg separately.
'Brahmin Sarees' have evolved from the dhoti.
Dravidians and Eastern Indians wear Sarees which have evolved
from the veshti. We can distinguish three sub-families: Veshti, covering only
the lower part of the body, Tamil Sarees and Eastern Sarees, where the upper
part is thrown once or twice over the shoulder.
Tribal women prefer drapes tied over the chest. Some of these
Sarees are a cross between purely tribal styles and styles from other families.
Saree is still the most popular form of women's dress in India. The single
length of cloth is worn by wrapping it around the feminine form. It is also
manipulated to cover the head and sometimes the face. It is interesting to note
that wearing a Saree today in India is considered both - fashionable as well as
The most amazing feature of the Saree is it
is neither tailored nor stitched. It can be worn by women of all ages, all
shapes and all sizes without any alterations. And the five-and-half-meter cloth
can be manipulated cunningly to either cloak or enhance the bodily charms of
the women. Made of cottons, silks, blends, the cloth is decorated by dyeing,
printing and / or embroidering. Literature about aesthetics and morality of
Indian dress dates back to pre-Christian era. The Dharmashastras record
socio-religious do's and don'ts on clothing. Men's and women's clothes - the
upper and lower garments - were not too different in the early Vedic times. By
late Vedic period, the women's clothing gave way to a single length of draped
cloth - today called the Saree.
Manu Samhita proclaims:
Women must be honored and adorned by their fathers, brothers and
husbands and brothers in law for their own welfare ... The houses, on which
female relations, not being duly honored, pronounce a curse, perish completely
as if destroyed by magic. Hence men who seek their own welfare should always
honor women on holidays and festivals with ornaments, clothes and food." Indian
cloths with their fast dyes and varied designs were famous throughout the
ancient world. The earliest specimen of Indian resist-dyed cloth apart from the
fragment found at Harappa dates back to the 8th century.