Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Development & Foundation of the Sari by Hindu & Muslim Culture

The history and origin of sari seems to date back to the period of the establishment of civilization. Evidence states that women in the Indus Valley civilization used to cover themselves with a long piece of cloth, draped like a trouser. However, the word ‘sari’ originated from the Prakrit word ‘sattika’, which is mentioned in the early Buddhist literature. The word got shortened and was called sati, which further evolved into sari.

A statue recovered from the Indus Valley Civilization depicts a female priest wearing a cloth draped like a sari. The sari used to be draped in a way so that it divides the two legs and forms a trouser like attire. This was basically done to aid the temple dancers in their movements and also cover to their modesty. It is believed that the ‘dhoti’, which is the oldest Indian garment that was draped, is the foundation behind the sari. Till the 14th century, the dhoti was worn by both men and women.

The early statues of Goddesses show that the sari was draped in a sensual manner, like a ‘fishtail’, which was tied at the waist, covered up the legs and came in front of the legs like a decorative drape. During that era, the upper part of the body was either partially covered or was left bare. Down south in the state of Kerala, one can still see people wearing the traditional sari, which is a two piece garment, consisting of a lungi and a shawl. With the coming of the Muslims, the ghagra or the petticoat was discovered and clothes were stitched. Before that, Hindus believed piercing clothes with needles was impure.
 
The blouse came into existence with the Muslims and also the British. Since then, sari has come of age and now many new styles are being experimented with.
  
The Indian Sari  is more than 5000 years old. It was first mentioned in Rig Veda, the oldest surviving literature of the world, written somewhere around 3000 BC. The Sari, originally intended both for men and women, is probably the longest incessantly worn dress in the history of mankind.

Every Sari has a design theme, and often has a story to tell. The main field of the sari is framed on its three sides by decorative borders. Two of these borders run along the longitudinal sides of the sari, and the third comprises the end piece of the sari, and is known as its Pallav.

The Pallav is a border, and the more intensified version of the two longitudinal borders. This end piece is the part of the sari that is draped over the shoulder and left to hang over the back or front.

The Banarasi sari is a must for brides. This classic style came into existence during the Moghul era. The signature design of Banarasi saris is a narrow fringe like pattern - called Jhalar - found along the inner and outer border of the fabric.

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