Handloom to heirloom, the Paithani weave is treasured across the globe but especially by Maharashtrian brides, for whom it is the most special piece of their wedding trousseau. Distinguished by the extensive use of gold zari and pure silk yarns, these shimmering drapes are brought to life in a spectrum of vibrant hues and a plethora of rich motifs. The major design language and shaping of the craft were influences by the Mughals, Peshwas and the Nizams, as well as the Buddhist paintings from the nearby Ajanta caves. Through this week blog, join us learning more about one of its unique motif - Narali (coconut).
Paithani weaves traditionally had only 2 main border designs, Narali and Pankha (fan), which were woven only by the master craftsmen using the interlocked weft technique. Introduced back in the 19th century, Narali was one of the easiest motifs to weave and is made up of a geometrical dense diamond design created entirely in pure gold zari. Known as Shrifal, it is considered as the fruit of Gods by communities across the countries and symbolises selfless service, complete usefulness, prosperity and generosity. Legend has it that the fruit was created when the ocean was churned by the Gods and Demons, post which it was planted in Lord Indra's garden in heaven.
Cultural customs and rituals are incomplete without coconuts and they are considered to be highly auspicious in family, social and religious ceremonies. From husk to oil to flesh, every part of it serves a purpose making it the tree that grants all blessings. One of the most common rituals consists of breaking a coconut in temples and offering it to the deity for blessings. It is said to signify the breaking of the 'aham' or human ego and surrendering to the supreme divinity, upon which the mind can become as pure as the white tender flesh of the coconut. This is practice is undertaken by many before the start of any new task or journey. On the western coastal town, fishermen offer thousands of coconuts as a part of their prayer for safe sailing to the ocean.
One ingredient, many uses. Coconut leaves are dried and woven in tapestry style as coverings for huts and cottages whereas the trunk is used as fuel. The coir is used for mattress stuffing and ropes, the shell is used to make eco-friendly bowls, cutlery and handicrafts and the roots are used for medicinal purposes. And it is an indigenous ingredient for a tropical country like ours and can be broken down further into water, milk, sugar, oil and flesh.
As a craft that flourished during the Mughal dynasty, Emperor Jahangir played a great deal in influencing its aesthetics and design repository. His immense love for nature lead to the introduction of foliate-inspired motifs such as Narali that added another dimension to this beloved weave. With the responsibility to carry forth this rich legacy and preserve indigenous craft forms such as the Paithani, we at Sundari Silks have expanded our repertoire to include masterpieces from across the country.