Iconic Maheshwari sarees from Madhya Pradesh, India get their name from the small town, where they are made – Maheshwar – another name of Lord Shiva. Maheshwar is located on the banks of holy river Narmada in the present day city of Indore. The town of Maheshwar is located near to another popular saree haven – Chanderi – also known for its fabrics and sarees by the same name. Both these are originally handloom sarees – and are a precious legacy of the Indian textiles and handlooms industry.
About Maheshwari Sarees
Initially, Maheshwari sarees were made only in pure silk. With the passage of time, these sarees were also made in the cotton fabric. Maheshwari sarees are also available in a mixture of cotton and silk. Nowadays, wool is also used in the production of Maheshwari sari. The pure silk Maheshwaris are known as Garbh-reshmi, while the cotton silk ones are called as the Neem-reshmi saree.
These sarees are extremely light in weight. Usually plain in the centre with designed borders, they have designs in checks or stripes. They may or may not have zari. Apart from their gorgeous used of Zari and a distinctive patterning that makes them unique – they are also known for the use of a mercerized cotton base, which gives the fabric a special lustrous quality.
The borders of these lovely handloom saris are woven such that they are reversible – and thus many of these can be worn from either side. These sarees are generally woven using natural or vegetable dyes – and with time, although some changes have come, the actual weavers still use those colors.
Some of the popular patterns used in these sarees include – the ‘chattai’ pattern), the ‘heera’ pattern, the ‘chameli ka phool’ pattern and the ‘eent’ pattern (refers to brick). Maheshwari sarees are also quite known today for their special block print designs. They are quite iconic – and are easy to spot.
The origin of beautiful Maheshwari sarees dates back to 18th century, where they were first brought to life in the erstwhile region of Bundelkhand. Queen Ahilyabai Holkar settled a number of weavers from Surat (Gujarat) in her area (Indore in MP and nearby towns) – to weave sarees and turbans for the royal household. These were gifted to the royal guests and relatives. It is believed that the first Maheshwari sari was woven by Queen Ahilyabai Holkar herself.
Initially, the Maheshwari sarees were made only in darker shades of colors red, purple, black, green and maroon. Today, these sarees are also manufactured in many shades of light colors. Owing to the Maharashtrian influence, these sarees were amply woven in the auspicious green, worn by the departing bride. These were also the bridal sarees for a long time in some communities – and the ones in pomegranate pinks (called as Dalimbi) and coral are still popular wedding sarees.
The Maheshwari sarees, being light in weight, are perfect for summers. They can be worn for casual as well as formal occasions. You can also wear this saree on festivals, weddings, parties and other occasions. Since it is adorned with zari as well as thread borders – it is available in variants that are day-wear, work-wear as well as occasion-wear. Its lightness makes it a perfect foil to heavier blouses and accessories. Even though, it is transparent and light, it is quite insulting – given its texture and woven effect – which makes it an all-season drape.
At Saree.com, you can find a nice and endearing variety of this prized weave. The saris woven on handlooms are unique and are quite different from the mill-made ones. However, these tend to be more expensive. With us, you can find both varieties online – the pocket friendly ones are also great options for day wear and work wear.