Sari: The History of the Sari

So how does the history of the sari relate to us? At Felicity.B we create beautiful clothing and accessories from reclaimed materials sourced throughout India, most of which comes from beautiful pre-loved sari’s. The sari (or saree) has been around for more than 5,000 years and is considered to be among the oldest forms of clothing in the world; The Vedas, thought to be the oldest literature composed by mankind actually mentions the wearing of the sari. Still in daily use around the world, the sari can be seen on the fashion-week catwalks of leading designers, in Bollywood movies, and on the streets of rural and urban India, worn by everyone from trendy college students to their conservative grandmothers – the sari is as entrenched in Indian culture as it ever was.

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The Sari evolved from the word ‘sattika’, a three-piece ensemble comprised of the Antriya (the lower garment or petticoat), the Stanapatta (the blouse or bodice), and the Uttariya (the veil worn over the shoulder or the head that we refer to as sari). This unstitched single piece of cloth evolved from the ancient Hindu belief that stitching cloth made it impure, however stitching was introduced during the industrial revolution. When dressing in the sari, the roughly six-metres of cloth (although it can range from 4 to 9) is draped around the lower body and then using a tactful pleating process, it is folded across the upper body. When buying a modern-day sari, the blouse section is now attached to the petticoat.  This blouse section is cut and sewn after purchase to the precise measurements of the wearer. This technique is a very practical method of production as there is no need for different sizes to be made.

Whilst there is a classical style of draping a sari, there are more than 80 variations of it across the Indian subcontinent. They vary from the pleat-less Bengali and Odia styles; to the Kodagu, a back to front version of the classic style; and the two-piece version worn by the Malayali. Further variations can be found depending on the fabric used, accommodating the numerous silk sari varieties including the Kanchipuram, Banarasi and Mysore.

Women traditionally would have worn the hand-loomed material of their particular region; therefore saris were made from silk, cotton and ikkat, and then decorated in block-print, embroidery and tie-dye. Brocade silk sarees are traditionally worn for festive and formal occasions. Red is most the favoured colour for wedding saris and is the traditional garment of choice for brides in Indian culture. Today, you are likely to find more use of modern fabrics such as polyester, georgette and charmeuse, all of which are commonly used.

With its unique capability to hold warmth during winter, and alternatively keep the wearer cool in summer, its practicality (folds can be created to alter the length of the skirt), and its stylish yet professional appearance, there is little wonder that the sari is the most popular and suitable attire for South Asian women, This is no doubt the reason it is worn by everyone from politicians to young mothers.

With the rich culture and hard work put into the creation of each and every sari, we hope you can better appreciate why we strive to source these beautiful materials and then recycle each and every part of them to create our own beautiful Felicity.B creations.

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