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Textile specialties by region

The specialty in each region developed based on the geographical location, climatic conditions, cultural influences, etc. The Northern India went through major influences of the Persian, Mogul ideas. The weavers were highly skilled producing intricate and delicate textiles, sometimes with the use of complicated looms. The art of dyeing the thread for weaving and the woven fabric was well developed. Fast, rich colours were used from very early days. Being hand made, each fabric could be unique.

Cotton weaves
The Dacca weaves of East Bengal - famous for the figured, finely woven mulmul. The Daccai saree, consists of different coloured threads intricately woven, (with several needles used) on white unbleached cotton. The thread was a slightly greater count than the base fabric. The style is now practised in West Bengal by the craftsmen who had migrated here after the partition. The technique also developed in Uttar Pradesh, the style of textile known as Jamdani.

The Jamdani weaves of Uttar Pradesh
This style was introduced by the Nawabs of Oudh in the late 18th century. The textile was very fine and delicate, the process very complicated and intricate and hence the textile was very expensive. The style is however still practised. In the style where white thread is used to weave on white, i.e., self designs, the designs woven are hardly visible, except on closer scrutiny. The thread used to weave the patterns are of the same count as the base material. Gold and silver thread are also used to weave the patterns.

The Paithani weaves of Maharashtra
Zari thread is used for the warp and the coloured threads for the weft are interlocked, the result is similar to tapestry weave. Complicated patterns of birds such as swans, peacocks, parrots, floral designs are intricately and delicately woven.

Chanderi weaves of Madhya Pradesh
In this technique silk thread is used for warp and fine cotton thread for the weft, with a richly laid out zari border and pallav. Checks and floral patterns are also laid all over the body.

Maheshwar sarees of Madhya Pradesh
Similar to Chanderi style, the saree is either pure cottons or silk / cotton mix, with check patterns being the specialty.

Gadwal, Vanaparti, Nander, Venkatagiri sarees of Andhra Pradesh
Gadwal and Vanaparti are woven as thick cotton, checks being the popular pattern with silk and zari border and pallav. The Nander sarees are very finely woven cotton sarees with rich border and pallav with gold and silver threads. The Venkatagiri sarees are very finely woven cottons with motifs from nature such as animals, birds, flowers woven half with gold thread and half with cotton thread.

Ikat weaves of Andhra Pradesh
Pochampalli sarees are woven with the ikat patterns, where the yarn is pre dyed based on pattern before weaving.

Kancheepuram, Salem, Coimbatore, Pudukottai, Madurai and Shankeranarkoil are famous for cotton weaves with motifs and checks laid on the body . The border and pallav are worked with thread or zari weaves.

Karakal sarees from Kerala
These are plain unbleached woven cottons with zari border and pallav.

Banglar Tant of West Bengal
Tant saree is a traditional Bengali saree and usually used by Bengali women. It is traditionally made by the weavers from all over West Bengal and Bangladesh but typically few places like Murshidabad, Nadia, Hooghly of West Bengal and Dhaka, Tangail of Bangladesh are famous for tant saree weaving. Tant saree are woven from cotton threads and distinguished by its lightness and transparency. It is considered to be the most comfortable saree for the Indian hot and humid climate.

Under the royal guidance the tant (specially jamdani) and muslin became famous in and around Dhaka in the Mughal era. British government tried to destroy this art to protect the textile industry of Manchester. With the division of Bengal province of British India and departure of British from India many skilled weavers had settled Hoogly, Nadia and Burdwan district of West Bengal with the Government aid and incentive.These weaver made this art famous for West Bengal.

Weaving of tant saree is famous and an age old crafting of West Bengal and Bangladesh. The craftsmen deftly weave the cotton to thread which is woven to tant saree. Two shuttles are used for this purpose. Traditionally, handlooms were used by the weavers, which have today been largely replaced by power looms to weave these sarees.

The typical Tant saree is characterised by a thick border and a decorative pallav, woven using a variety of floral, paisley and other artistic motifs. Some of the popular traditional motifs are: bhomra (bumble bee), tabij (amulet), rajmahal (royal palace), ardha-chandra (half moon), chandmala (garland of moons), ansh (fish scale), hathi (elephant), nilambari (blue sky), ratan chokh (gem-eyed), benki (spiral), tara (star), kalka (paisley) and phool (flower). Printed, hand-painted and embroidered patterns are also used to get a larger variety of designs.Different motifs including floral element, solar element and recently even modern art are depicted in this saree. Tant Saree comes with colourful design and borders are made thicker because it is subjected to tear easily.

Silk weaves
Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh) silk weaves - brocades
An extra weft of gold thread runs across the warp with the motifs picked up in silk thread and jewel like colours worked in the style of minakari in jewellery.
Another variety of gold brocade has warp and weft of gold thread with patterns worked in silk and gold thread. Normally the background material is woven in silver zari and the patterns in gold. This is known as Ganga-Yamuna, Ganga standing for the gold thread and Yamuna for the silver.
Yet another variety is the gold and silver lame tissues.
The pure silk brocades are very intricate with silk thread used for creating the patterns.

Baluchar weaves of West Bengal
These are plain woven fabric brocaded with untwisted silk thread developed in Murshidabad. The specialty is the large pallav, with a large pattern radiating from the centre. The body of the saree carries zari buttas. The designs from the miniature paintings are used for the pallav design. The weavers of Varanasi have excelled in creating textiles of this variety.

Tanchoi weaves of Gujarat
These textiles are based on satin weaving. The base is satin and the extra weft floats are merged into the fabric.

Paithani weaves used in pallavs of silk sarees of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh
The paithani technique, where the warp is zari thread with coloured thread for the weft and this technique is used in the pallav of the silk sarees.

Kancheepuram weaves of Tamil Nadu
The silk sarees are woven with fine silk with contrasting border and pallav woven with a variety of zari motifs such as rudraksham, malli moggu, gopuram, etc. There are other areas in Tamil Nadu that are famous for their silk weaves such as Dharmavaram, Arni. Tanjore is famous for the all over gold woven sarees used for temples.

Patola weaves are practised in various regions with slight variations based on local taste. In Patola weaving the warp and weft threads are tied and dyed before it is woven. The warp thread is first stretched on the loom and the design is marked on this. Areas are tied and dyed. The tie and dye process is done in various colours from lighter to darker colour shade. The weft threads are fixed on a prepared frame placed at an angle and the same process is carried out. The weft threads are thrown over the warp and woven using long bamboo needles to hold the design. Sometimes only the warp or weft is tie-dyed and then it is known as single patola.

The double Ikat technique is followed in Rajkot and Patan, Gujarat.
Andhra Pradesh is famous for the Pochampally sarees with the geometrical patterns, which are usually made with only the weft tie-dyed. Chirala in Andhra Pradesh is another centre famous for Patola weaving.

Orissa is famous for Vichitrapuri sarees. Here in addition to the patola technique, additionally have extra warp weaves of natural silk. Apart form the usual geometrical patterns, complicated temple designs are woven in the pallav.