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SAREES OF MAHARASTRA

Published: August 8, 2023
Author: Fashion Value Chain

Dr. N.N.Mahapatra

It is well known that traditional wear is also known as a classic. Because you can never go wrong with them. You can wear it for any occasion or function and they will always see you through it. Maharashtrian traditional sarees are also similar, they will carry a bride through any occasion she has, big or small. There are sarees for every Maharashtrian function you have for your wedding. The benefit of a Maharashtrian traditional saree is that it comes in a number of silks and even other clothes, so with it being of such opulence, it can also suit your preference in many ways. Though some silks like Kohlapuri and Paithani are preferred over others, all of them make do with some magnificent sarees. Maharashtrian traditional sarees are also not just segregated by cloth, they can also be differentiated by the way they are draped.

The distinct mix of various cultures has shaped the people of Maharashtra into a land of prosperity and spirituality. Maharashtra was also the land of the great warriors who have left behind grandeur, high spirits, and exuberance. All these features add to the rich culture and heritage of the Marathas.

Maharashtra has a wide range of textiles, of varied designs, that are manufactured using different techniques. The specialty in the weave in each region is developed based on location, climate, and cultural influences. Primarily used fabrics like cotton and silk are best suited to the climate of Maharashtra. One of the most popular traditional wears for women, sarees never go out of style and are termed classic pieces of clothing in a woman’s wardrobe. Marathi sarees like Paithani, Kolhapuri, and Nauvari are not only stylish but also look elegant and classy.

The different types of Sarees in Maharashtra are as below.

 1. KHUN  Saree

This is a silk-cotton blended saree with a traditional woven resham border. The saree typically has a cotton body and mostly art silk, or in some cases pure silk is used in the border and pallu. In a few variations, the weavers may include an art silk warp in the body as well. The folding pattern of the fabric into small squares has earned the name Khuna or Khun.

It is lightweight cotton or cotton-silk fabric, which has an intricate brocade pattern. The saree has small motifs all over the body, which gives an overall aesthetic appeal to the saree.

The journey of a 4000 old tradition has been recently revived by fashion experts, to bring back the same much-celebrated fabric into vogue. The fabric was worn by royalty and is also offered to Gods. The workmanship is laborious. It a lot of dedication, patience, and passion to craft a perfect Khun saree.

Paired with a beautiful patterned Khun blouse, these traditional sarees will make any woman fall in love with traditional handlooms. The Khun fabric was originally made in Guledgudda in Karnataka and has been very popular in Maharastra for ages. It gained popularity due to its soft feel, variety of colors, brocade textures, and durability. It’s available in a huge array of designs and two-tone jewel colors and can be stitched in different garments. Teamed with traditional sarees or cotton sarees, these look absolutely graceful and stunning.


Off late, the Khun has been well-revived and picked up by some of the major designers to be incorporated into Western wear, bags, and home decor and the possibilities are truly endless.


These handloom sarees are truly a treasure and an inseparable part of our rich heritage. We certainly hope that these sarees and handlooms get their due and reach the people who truly understand and appreciate this dying art. At a time when the government is too doing its bit through the Make in India movement and similar such programs, we certainly hope these arts find more buyers which will help the craftsmen who truly weave a part of their souls in these fabrics.

2. Paithani Saree

If we are talking of Maharashtrian traditional sarees, then starting with the Paithani saree would be the right way to go. You cannot find something more Maharashtrian traditionalist than this silk saree right here. These come in bold colors ranging from bright to dark, but each has its own special charm. Unlike most traditional silk sarees, Maharashtrian sarees are not the ones to shy from dark colors, like royal blue or plum color. Wear this fully traditional saree with fully traditional jewelry. Wear a number of gold necklaces ranging in different lengths, and a Jhumka or big stud earrings. A traditional bride is incomplete without a Maang Tikka and the traditional Maharashtrian Nath. One of the most popular silk sarees in Maharastra, these traditional pieces of clothing were named after the Paithan town in Aurangabad where the sarees were woven by hand. Made of fine silk fabric, they are available in bright colors like plum or royal blue. Developed over 2,000 years ago, Paithani sarees were widely purchased by the Peshwas during ancient times.

Occasion: The bride can wear it for the main function, The Wedding!!

Paithani is a variety of sari, named after the Paithan town in Aurangabad, Maharashtra State in India where the sarees are woven by hand. Made up of very fine silk fabric, it is considered one of the richest saris in India.

Even in today’s advanced world the methods of weaving Paithani silk sarees have not changed from 200 B.C. The art is more than 2,000 years old, developed in Paithan (Pratishthan) capital of the legendary Satavahanas Ruler. Satavahana’s ruler used to export cotton and silks to the Roman Empire in exchange for gold.

During the Mughal era, Aurangzeb patronized the weavers, and the designs were known as “Aurangzebi”. He prohibited the weavers to weave ‘Jamdanis ‘ except for his court. Peshwas were great patrons of Paithani.

Saree is being made at a training center run by the government at Paithan.

Industrial Revolution Impact

Sadly, the Paithani weaving industry experienced a huge setback with the Industrial Revolution and the advent of the British Rule. But during the 17th century, the Peshwas took it upon themselves to promote the craft and consequently, settled Paithani weavers in Yeola, which is now the manufacturing hub for Paithani Silk Sarees in India.

The Paithani Sarees & Fabric is socio-culturally related to Maharashtrian people due to its confluence with their culture. Until the 17th century, weaving activities were limited to Paithan town. Later weaving was transferred to Yeola (a village in Nashik district). The sale of Paithani saree started coming up in 1984-85 and the Yeola village became the main commercial center of Paithani weaving.

Despite the lustrous history of Paithani sarees, today they are in a similar state as many handloom sarees are made thanks to the power of looms.

However, no machine-made fabric can be compared with the hand-made Paithani sarees. Even today Maharashtra is the home of the most celebrated textile like the Paithani saree, gold-embroidered zari sari with its beautiful designs and woven borders.

3. KARVATI Saree

In earlier days, handloom weavers of villages Andhalgaon, Mohadi, and Palandur District Bhandara, part of Vidarbha region in Maharashtra produced cotton gamchha with 20s cotton yarn in warp and weft having two sides Karvati border (Solid border).

Karvat in Marathi is the saw and since the designs look like saw tooth, the fabric is known as Karvati or Karvatkati. District Bhandara is a Tasar cocoon-producing area. Having plenty of raw material the weavers introduced tasar material in the weaving of Tasar Karvati Saree.

Material Used

The tasar is wild natural silk obtained from a wide-wing moth that is yellowish brown in color. The tasar produced in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra is supposed to be the best in quality and color due to the unique environmental conditions of this region. It is mostly tribals who are traditionally doing the job of protecting cocoons on trees in forests. The tasar yarn so obtained is used for the production of sarees.

Technique applied

The Tasar Karvati Saree is woven with three shuttle weaving (tapestry type of weaving technique) to have a solid color border and body. The border is woven with mercerized cotton yarn and pure tasar hand-reeled yarn.

The saree is woven on a pit loom mounted with Nagpuri wooden lattice dobby on the top of the loom above the weaver’s seat. The uniqueness of the Tasar Karvati saree is that the border is woven with various temple designs in different sizes. The traditional motifs are woven with extra warp threads controlled by lattice dobby.

How to distinguish

1. Hand-reeled tasar is used. Fabric appearance is not flat and uniform. There are uneven picks in an irregular fashion.

2. Feel is harsh and the color is darker beige

3. Sawtooth designs of various sizes are woven into the border of the saree in a tapestry technique.

4. HIMROO Saree

Himroo is a fabric made of silk and cotton, which is grown locally in Aurangabad. Himroo was brought to Aurangabad during the reign of Mohammad Tughlaq when he had relocated his capital from Delhi to Daulatabad near Aurangabad.

The word Himroo comes from the Persian word “Hum–Ruh” which means “similar”. Himroo is a replication of Kinkhwab, which was woven with pure golden and silver threads in the olden days and meant for the royal families. However, some historians believe that Himroo was the innovation of local craftsmen with very little Persian influence.

Himroo uses

Persian designs and is distinctive in appearance. Himroo from Aurangabad is in demand for its unique style and design.

Himroo is a type of extra-weft manufactured ordinarily from cotton and viscose rayon yarn on a cotton ground. It is also woven from silk yarn and gold thread on a silk ground giving it a satiny sheen. The design is decided at the outset since two kinds of threads are mixed. This handloom has historically been produced in Aurangabad. These fabrics denoted nobility and royalty in olden times.

 5. SOLAPURI Saree

 The saree is vibrant and rich in color. It’s light in weight and comfortable to wear.

The product is designed by artisans from the Padmashali community. The community is originally a Telugu-speaking artisans, engaged in weaving. They migrated to different surrounding regions like Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, and Tamil Nadu.

A Solapuri chaddar is a cotton bed sheet made in Solapur City. These bed sheets are popular in India where they are manufactured using hand looms and are known for their design and durability. Solapuri chaddars were the first product in Maharashtra to obtain Geographical Indication (GI) status.

6. NAGPURI Saree

Lovely, light, and elegant is the soft cotton saree from Nagpur. These saris are woven on pit looms mainly with pure cotton yarn. The special feature of the Nagpur saris are designs that are woven with the Nagpuri wooden dobby. The variety includes plain sarees with the characteristic borders or designs woven in stripes and checks with fly shuttles, complimenting the finely textured body with richly attractive borders.

These sarees are immensely famous for colorful stripes and vibrant prints with intricate embroidery on their thick borders. These handwoven sarees come in different vibrant colors, including brown, magenta, red, green, blue, and many more. Redefine beauty with simplicity by wearing these handwoven artisanal sarees that reflect the hard work of the talented and hardworking expert craftsmen across the length and breadth of India.

Handwoven cotton clothing from Nagpur is widely famous for its lighter weight and elegant appearance, with the distinctive colors and patterns adding to its beauty. The traditional Nagpuri cotton sarees are manufactured in pure cotton yarn on pit-looms and Nagpuri wooden dobby.

7. PUNERI Saree

Puneri cotton is one of the most prominent weaves of Maharashtra and an emblematic cloth of Pune. One of the most prominent weaves of Maharashtra, Puneri sarees are made of 100% cotton fabric using the warp and weft method. These sarees have a simple design with a metallic-colored zari border. They also have triangular motifs which reflect the intricate temple architecture of ancient Pune. The saree usually features a tok padar which is a pallu woven with vertical lines.

This textile owes much of its fame to the cotton and silk weaving industries that flourished throughout the state at the onset of the 19th century. It may be demure and virginal in appearance but boasts a long-standing history. It takes one back to the era of the spirited Marathas and Peshwas, Puneri cotton is a canvas of modest elegance.

Puneri cotton is predominantly used to weave saris, although its modern renditions see it being incorporated into salwars and kurtas too.

The weave is said to have traveled to Maharashtra from Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. During the heydays of the Peshwa Empire, the sari was mainly worn by women of the royal household, and on certain occasions, was delicately woven with silk.

The base fabric is crafted with 100% cotton, with the warp (where the yarn is placed in a longitudinal position) and weft (where the yarn is interlocked with the warp at a right angle, running back and forth alongside it) technique. The sari, which is otherwise quite austere, is accentuated by a zari (metallic-colored) border. It is particularly intriguing to chart the journey of this much-coveted hem. It speaks of immense cultural significance-characterized by dainty triangular motifs, the border stands as a testimony to the intricate temple architecture which was typical of ancient Pune.

The border comes with its own variants, such as GomiNav

BharatJijamata , and Rudraksha, each illustrating a design that is distinctly its own. This border is often created using the extra-warp technique. Considered supplementary to the body of the fabric, this technique includes the insertion of the additional warp into the sari in a way that does not disrupt the primary weaving process. The sari is usually woven with a yarn count of 100s and features a tok padar, a pallu woven with vertical lines.

8. NAUVARI Saree

The history and origin of the saree are shrouded in mystery, but the archaeological sculptural references of earlier civilizations show the saree being draped like kacham or a dhoti by both genders.

The distinctive Maratha woman’s apparel is referred to as Nauvari, meaning nine yards. It is also called as the Kaashtha sari or Lugade. The name Kaashtha sari is because the style of draping the saree is similar to the way a Maharashtrian dhoti is worn. Also called Kaashtha saree or LugadeNauvari saree is a distinctive traditional wear that literally translates to nine yards. Usually worn at weddings or ceremonial functions, this saree is draped in a dhoti style to stand out from other draping patterns. They are available in cotton, silk, or satin fabric. Available in beautiful patterns, these sarees are clean, easy to wear, and quite breathable.

The nine yards saree today is worn by ladies purely on ceremonial occasions. The style of draping this saree in the Deccan region varies from caste and community. For example, the style of draping by the Brahmin community is with the hind pleats tucked into the waist at the back centre and pallu is thrown across the left shoulder. The tribal women wear it high up to their knees and the coastal fisherwomen drape it like a kacham which allows for easy movement.

One of the most interesting features of the Nauvari or the lugade is the indigenous design palette in weaving, which is untouched by Moghul motifs or techniques.

The distinguished painter of the 19th century, Raja Ravi Varma selected the nine- yards saree which portrayed the best dresses for the various goddess he was commissioned to paint. The historical figure of Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi or Jijabai, the Maratha queen provides us with visual images of how women adapted this garment into the garb of a warrior.

The variety of designs, drapes, fabrics, and colors in sarees reveal a unique blending of religious and cultural influences of India. And the drape of the saree across the geographical diversity of India is a visual language in itself!

Goa is a state on the southwestern coast of India within the region known as the Konkan, and geographically separated from the Deccan highlands by the Western Ghats. It is surrounded by Maharashtra to the north and Karnataka to the east and south, with the Arabian Sea forming its western coast. Goa is known for its beaches and heritage. This small state has given birth to craftsmen and artists from all spheres of life.

9. KOHLAPURI SAREE

Kohlapuri saree is one of the native sarees of Maharashtra. Though it is not as popular as the Paithani saree but still its bright and traditional colors can mesmerize you like no other. These come in a variety of colors each better than the last and will leave you wanting for more. You can pair this Maharashtrian traditional saree with a layer of descending necklaces and gold jhumkas. One of the most famous traditional sarees of Maharashtra, Kolhapuri sarees are available in bright colors that will surely catch everyone’s eye.You can also wear these sarees on your wedding day. When wearing to other occasions pair this saree with traditional Kolhapuri chappals, gold jhumkas, and a layer of descending necklaces. They are usually available in pure silk fabric. Don on this saree for either your reception or the wedding day. Wear it preferably in the morning to let it shine.

10.  Narayanpet Sarees

 These have been known to be patronized in Maharashtra since the times of Shivaji Maharaj. These sarees are known for the best quality fabrics and durability. Narayanpet is a small town located around the border of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, traditionally has been a weaver town. The Narayanpet is a very simple saree, that used to be made in only cotton traditionally. With new demands, is not extensively made in a blend of cotton and silk or in pure silk. The saree typically is plain, with a contrast or complementing border which is about 5-6 inches wide and two thin lines with a tiny temple design is woven in resham and zari. The pallu too is a very simple one, mostly plain with 3 horizontal lines. Rarely some paisley motifs are woven between them. A saree takes anywhere between 2-4 days to complete and is entirely handwoven.

Unfortunately, the Narayanpet sarees have seen a steady decline in buyers and now barely 2000 looms exist in this town struggling for survival. Reasons for the decline are not just that the new generation doesn’t want to get into weaving, but also the meager amount of money being paid to the weavers. This is essential because the demand has declined as cheaper versions are available in power looms and also some blame could be put on the changing fashions. Moreover, the educated new generation is not interested in the profession due to the hard labor and long hours to bring out the finished product, even then the returns are not lucrative to make them stay in the profession. Narayanpet has its GI identification as well.

11. Ilkars Sarees

 It also  too have a similar story. Originating from the Ilkal town of Bagalkat in Karnataka and dates back to the 8th century AD. Once upon a time, these were the daily wear sarees woven in cotton and woven in silk to be worn for special occasions. Cotton silk Ilkals have also gained popularity over the years. The speciality of these sarees is the joining of the saree with the pallu portion which is normally weaved in blocks of red and white and temple design is incorporated in them. An ilkal takes about 7-10 days to be weaved. The handwoven silk Ilkals are made of very high-count silk and hence are quite heavy compared to other silk sarees. Also, the irkals have a very textured finish and a lovely shine when held up close. The borders are typically contrasted and have a couple of woven zari pattis running through them. Illkals come in some very vibrant as well as soothing pastel shades. Even though the patterns and pallu are very simple, the Irkals look quite elegant and rich.

10. KUNBI   SAREE

Goa is a state on the southwestern coast of India within the region known as the Konkan, and geographically separated from the Deccan highlands by the Western Ghats. It is surrounded by Maharashtra to the north and Karnataka to the east and south, with the Arabian Sea forming its western coast. Goa is known for its beaches and heritage. This small state has given birth to craftsmen and artists from all spheres of life.

Goa as a state has such rich culture and diversity. One of the many offerings of this beautiful state is the Kunbi saree. A traditional handwoven cotton saree which is made by the Kunbi and Gawda tribes in Goa. The saree had almost vanished from the Goan cultural landscape till the time late designer Wendell Rodericks revived the traditional weaving techniques. Now, the Kunbi is coming into its own.

With a deep red palette and stripes and checks, the Kunbi is shorter than the regular sarees and is generally tied higher up too. The skirt is flared which allows women to work in the fields effortlessly. These days, the Kunbi has transitioned into the regular drape.

The colours evolved with time. There was maroon, blue, and green. An indigo blue was a regular sight at farms where women would spend the day. But red was the colour of the soil, of the land, of life.

 11. UPPADA SILK

This silk comes from a pretty little town in Andhra Pradesh. This silk saree is also quite sought after in Maharashtra, with its floral motifs, that feature big flowers and their stems. This is featured all over the saree. They are so finely woven that they might just come off as translucent at times. Uppada sarees come in all kinds of colours and usually, you have a galore to choose from. They usually come in the traditional Indian wedding colours like green, red, etc. To put a finish to this kind of a saree, wear jewellery which has just a tinge of colour in it. Embedded with pure zariUppada silk sarees originated in the small beach town of Uppada in Andhra Pradesh. These exquisitely-designed sarees are weaved using the age-old Jamdani weaving technique. Although it did not originate in Maharashtra, it is a popular piece of clothing here for featuring beautiful floral motifs. They are usually available in bright colours like red and green. You can wear it for occasions like your mehndi or any other small function too. 

The Drape of A Maharashtra Traditional Saree

The traditional Maharashtrian drape is called as the Nauvari saree. It is done with a nine-yard-long saree, draped in dhoti style. It not only gives amazing mobility to a bride, who definitely needs it on her wedding day but also makes her look royal and regal. 

Another way that the Maharashtrian traditional saree is draped in is the classic way we see in most movies. This is done as it is familiar and easier to do than the dhoti style. Each one has its own charm and for a bride who wants a bit of tradition mixed with a little something else, why not this? 

As Maharashtrian traditional sarees go, these are basically the silks and ways to drape it, but as we go further to explore, there is no end to what kind of silk or drape we can or cannot use. But if ever in doubt go for your classics, because as said before, there is nothing more reliable than them.

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