Bengali Sarees: famously known as Tant


Bengali Sarees are vibrant in colour and is always handy for every type of occasion. Since Bengal has a costal type of climate, which is hot and humid thus the sarees support the wearer the comfort. The famous of all is the Bengali cotton sarees, which is famously known as “Tant”. Its considered to be the most comfortable sarees supporting the hot climate. It usually comes in bright or pastel colours with a gorgeous border and has a papery, soft texture. The sarees come in different motifs– floral elemets, solar elements and recently even modern art is depicted in sarees. Of late, benarasi is also made out of cotton….which is equivalently pretty as a benarasi saree.

Calcutta sarees use silk warp and cotton weft. They are bright but subtle and have rich gold borders. Colored flowers, and green parrots are some of the patterns used in calcutta Saris. Bengali silk Sarees from Murshidabad in Bengal use natural tussah with broad red borders. Baluchari Sarees of Bengal , developed some two hundred years ago, use palette of dark red, yellow, green, purple, chocolate, cream, white and blue. Their borders are patterned with compartments containing repeating pictorial themes, which range from figures smoking or merely conversing, and holding flower sprigs.

Bengali cotton sarees are commonly called Tant sarees. These sarees are majorly worn by the mass. Its hand woven to now machine woven, having bright colours with decorative borders.

Triumphing over the trauma of partition, weaver families which migrated to West Bengal in the 1950’s have helped keep alive a priceless heritage of highly stylized weaving techniques honed over generations. The handloom industry in the eastern region has had its share of bumpy rides, but Bengal handlooms have survived the ups and downs to become a household name among connoisseurs of textiles.

Daccai Jamdani is distinguished from its mutant cousins by its very fine texture resembling muslin and the elaborate and ornate workmanship. In Bangladesh , weavers use fine Egyptian cotton, while the Indian weavers use only indigenous raw material. The single warp is usually ornamented with two extra weft followed by ground weft. While the original Bangladeshi sari is almost invariably on a beige background, the Indian weavers are a little more adventurous in their choice of color schemes. The gossamer thin black Jamdani with its splash of multi colored linear or floral motifs sprinkled generously all over the body and border and crowned with an exquisitely designed elaborate pallu is a feast for the eyes.

The Daccai Jamdani is woven painstakingly by hand on the old fashioned Jala loom, and many take even up to one year to weave a single sari. It feels supple to the touch and drapes gently to reveal the contours of the wearer.

While the Daccai Jamdani is strictly a party affair, the other Jamdanis are much sought after by fashion-conscious working women for their elegance.These are mostly Jamdani motifs on Tangail fabric and are generally known by the confusing nomenclature of Tangail Jamdani. Although beige background is the most popular, these are available in a riot of colors, at affordable prices.

Tangail, Dhoneokali, Shantipuri and Begumpuri are other popular styles of Bengal handlooms in the lower price range. Of these, Tangail which comes from Fulia, has a fine texture, with its 100s count fabric and highly stylized motifs, while Dhoneokali is known for its stripes and checks. Over the years, the distinctive patterns have merged as weavers started experimenting with various combinations of design and yarn, so much so, it is now difficult to distinguish between the various styles, unless one is an expert on texture.

The different weaving traditions are given below:

“The night blue Shantipur sari is an enemy of modesty”.The “Shantipuri” saris are named after the village “Shantipur” in Nadia District of West Bengal, which is famous for the “Vaishnava” culture propogated by Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu. These saris have a powder fine texture and exude a sophistications and subtlety of temperament.

The Dhonekhali ‘aarong’ was famous mainly for men’s dhoti’s and plain bordered saris. The saris were woven in near opaque white grounds with contrasting borders in red, black, purple, and orange, emphasized by a serrated edge motif. In time, the border was broadened to six or even eight inches, and adorned with a variety of stripes in muga or zari. These broad borders known as ‘Maatha Paar’ or Beluaari paar were often woven in two colours – such as black and red. Having a tighter weave than the “tangail” or “shantipuri”, it is more hardy. Its bold body colours and contrasting borders and absurdly low prices make them very affordable.

The “Tangail” sari exemplifies most graphically, the travails of the weaving community of the 2 Bengals. “Tangail”, which is a village in what is today known as ‘Bangaladesh’ was the home of the weavers who now reside in Fulia, Dainhat, Samudragarh, Dhatrigram, and Sainthia as a consequence of “Partition”. The traditional tangail borders had a “paddo” or lotus pattern, “pradeep’ or lamp pattern, apart from the popular “aansh paar’ which was common to Shantipur. From the use of a single colour on the border, they began to use 2 to three colours to give it ‘meekari’ effect.

These Jamdanis, which are literally “woven dreams” are the most sought after saris today. Very dainty and exquisitely fashioned, each piece at the Spring Fair is an exclusive item.

Silk – Baluchari : Korial : Garad
Today, Mulberry cultivation and cocoon rearing is carried out principally in the districts of Malda, Murshidabad and Birbhum.
A hundred years ago however, mulberry silk rearing was a tradition prevalent almost all over Bengal .
Today silk rearings in Maldah is done mainly by the Muslim families, while Murshidabad, its neighbour, continues to be an important silk weaving district.

Baluchari was a village on the banks of the Bhagirathi riven in Murshidabad district. What is commonly known as the Baluchar brocade was the culminating achievement of the Bengal Silk sari range. Weavers created independent pattern that came together in a harmonious splendour to create a technical and aesthetic landmark. It was a product of patronage, and today, due to a restricted clientele, has lost its original richness. This saree from Bengal is usually five yards in length and 42” wide in flame red, purple and occasionally in deep blue. The field of the saree is covered with small butis and a beautiful floral design runs across the edges. The anchal has the main decoration depicting narrative motifs.

The Korial
The Korial lal paar sari is identical to the Garad except that the red of its border is intense and solid. The weaving and wearing of these saris is associated with Durga Puja, and therefore has a seasonal market.

The Garad
The Garad silk sari consists of plain red borders set against a natural ground, with widely spaced red “kalka” paisley motift scattered diagonally from feet to waist.

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