WHAT DOES THE BALUCHARI SAREE SAY
Posted by Priyanka Bhattacharya on Saturday 4th February 2017
When you add a baluchari saree to your wardrobe, you can be assured of the fact that you are definitely draping yourself with six yards of the rich Indian cultural heritage. Belonging to the quaint town of Bishnupur in West Bengal, Balucharis are defined by their exquisitely designed borders and pallus. These ornately designed sarees of Bengal are an example of India complex history and culture. Because of its rich heritage, the baluchari saree has been accorded the Geographical Indication tag by the government of India. The baluchari saree is majorly prepared in the Murshidabad district of West Bengal and is famous for the intricate descriptions from mythology and history that the saree carries on its pallu and border. Since the saree depicts tales from ancient religious and social texts, the balucharis are perfect for opulent gatherings, functions, weddings and festivals.
The baluchari saree was born in the district of Murshidabad, and Murshidkuli Khan, the Nawab of Bengal in the 18th century brought the art of making baluchari sarees from Dhaka in Bangladesh to Baluchar in Murshidabad. This textile industry flourished but soon was lost to the great floods in the river Ganga. This made the industry of baluchari sarees to move from Murshidabad to Bishnupur in the Bankura district of West Bengal. It did not take much time for the indutry to flourish again but it suffered setback due to the then policies of East India Company and the ongoing British rule.
During the reign of the Malla dynasty, Bishnupur again witnessed the dawn of the making of baluchari sarees under the guidance of Subho Thakur who was a famous artist and helped the cultivate the craft of weaving baluchari sarees. Since, Bishnupur was the capital of the Malla dynasty then, the art bloomed in the place thereafter. The Malla dynasty was famous for their temples which were made using terracota bricks. This impressive achievement of the Malla rulers is also depicted in the baluchari sarees.
Aside from the scenes borrowed from the mythological texts of Ramayana and Mahabharata, there also scenes from the royal lives of Nawabs where they are horseriding and even women smoking hookah, depicted in the baluchari sarees. Since the sarees were born during the British rule, the invention of the steamboat and the advent of the railways and other socio-historical events such as the freedom struggle are also depicted in the baluchari sarees.
There are three kinds of baluchari sarees, the resham baluchari, the meenakari baluchari and the swarnachuri where silver threads dipped in gold polish are used. Since the entire baluchari saree is fabricated from the finest silk, the process of making the intricate designs on the pallu and the border is a time consuming and labour-intensive process. The chosen design is traced on a graph paper and then coloured and punched using cards. These cards are then sewed in the punching process while being woven in the jacquard machine.
Baluchari sarees earlier woven for the royal families and were meant to be a status symbol. The intricate weave done in two threads of gold and silver creates a stunning effect in baluchari sarees. Baluchari sarees are also environment-friendly because the dyes which are used to colour the sarees are purely organic and ae extracted from fruits and vegetables.
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