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Famous Handloom Sarees Of India | Learn How To Differentiate Handloom From Powerloom Sarees

Do you have a collection of gorgeous sarees worth dying for, from your grandmother’s classical sarees to the latest trends? Do you wish to learn how to differentiate from machine-woven saree to handwoven saree? Here’s a list of famous handloom sarees of India and a quick guide that will help you identify your saree from power loom to handloom.

How To Differentiate Handloom From Powerloom

To differentiate handloom woven saree from power loom saree, look closely at the weaves of the saree. An authentic handloom weaved saree will have some small imperfections and discrepancies. Now, check the reverse side of the prints (or embroidery) appearing on the front of the saree, especially the pallu area, in a printed handloom saree you will see the exact mirror image of the prints in front. A hand-embroidered saree on the reverse side all the threads will be snipped off neatly by hand and there will be a smooth finish soft to the skin whereas in power loom sarees embroidery threads will be in the form of floats.

How To Identify Famous Handloom Sarees Of India

Banarasi Sarees

Banarasi sarees come in a variety of design motifs – Jangla, cutwork, tissue, buti, tanchoi, meenakari. The Banarasi sarees are woven using two broader techniques:

Kadwa or Kadhua– Authentic banarasi saree where motifs are woven by hand. Each motif is woven by hand separately and does not have loose threads on the backside, hence not cutting is required. 

Phekwa or Cutwork– Sarees woven using this technique can be woven on handloom as well as power loom. The reverse side of motifs will have clear-cut threads with no floats. The sarees with heavy motif work on the body can come with a lot of floats on the backside of motifs.

Genuine handloom banarasi saree can be identified using the following tips:

  • Genuine silk will have a soft hand feel and are lustrous unlike the slippery feel of fake sarees. 
  • Genuine silk sarees will not come very cheap. They are made from high-quality silk with genuine gold and silver zari. The price range for these sarees will start from Rs 12,000/- onwards depending on the intricacy of motifs.
  • They are characterized by Mughal-inspired motifs, like amru, Ambi, and domak, floral and foliage-inspired motifs. The fake banarasi saree will not have these traditional motifs. 

Paithani Saree

Paithani saree
Paithani Saree

To identify real handwoven paithani saree, check the backside of the saree. The motifs on the front side of the saree will have a replica on the reverse side. You can check the pallu of the saree with intricate motif patterns. In power loom woven paithani, the reverse side of motifs will have floats of threads and will not look like a replica of motifs on the front side.
Paithani sarees come within different design patterns:

  • Brocade Paithani with parrot motifs: These sarees are known for Parrot, known as ‘Munia’ in Marathi, woven patterns on saree border and pallu. The parrots are presented in parrot green color and are also known as ‘Tota-Mania’ motif sarees.
  • Ekdhoti weaves Paithani saree: In these Paithani sarees, the color of the warp yarn is different from that of the weft yarn. As a single shuttle is used for the weaving of weft, these are known as ekdhoti weave. These have simple motifs like coins, peas woven on the saree body.
  • Paithani saree with Bangadi-Mor design: Bangle is referred to as ‘Bangadi’ and Peacock as ‘Mor’ in Marathi. The pallu of these sarees has woven patterns of a peacock in a bangle or a peacock woven in the shape of a bangle. This is also one of the most common designs for the Paithani saree.
  • Traditional color Paithani sarees: Most common traditional colors of paithani saree are kali chandrakala (jet black saree with a red border), Raghu (parrot green color), and Shirodak (pure white).

Maheshwari Sarees

Maheshwari sarees are woven from silk warp and cotton weft. These sarees have soft textures and feel. They are easier to drape and are low maintenance. Maheshwari’s do not have floral motifs in the saree body. Maheshwari’s have either striped, checkered, or plain bodies with the designs created in borders using the dobby mechanism to create border design in the warp. They have geometrical designs in the pallu of saree. These sarees usually come in bright colors. To identify authentic handloom Maheshwari, the woven designed border would be the same on the reverse side. These sarees can be worn from both sides.

Chanderi Sarees

Chanderi sarees are woven from pure silk, pure cotton, or silk cotton. These are fine and sheer, lightweight sarees with papery texture but neither too stiff nor too soft. The design in chanderi is created using the extra-weft weaving technique. In this technique, design motifs are manually inserted by a weaver. These motifs are known as buta or butti. Commonly used motifs in these sarees are bundi, phul-patti, meenabuti, jangla, coins. These sarees are usually vibrant colored like orange, fuschia, turquoise, etc. To identify the genuine chanderi flip to check the other side of saree and you should feel embroidery like extra weft buti designs.

Taant Sarees

grey tant cotton sari
Begumpuri Taant Saree

Taant sarees are woven from cotton and are known for their airy and light texture making them suitable for summers and humid climates. They are the most popular sarees worn by ladies in west Bengal. Taant sarees are characterized by identifiable thick borders and design motifs on pallu. Some popular motifs are raj mahal, Hathi, Phool, chandmala.

Begampuri Taant Sarees: Begampur is a small town in Hooghly district in West Bengal, the sarees weaved here carry deep and bright colors. Weavers use a pit loom or frame loom for weaving Begampuri saree and they use traditional dobby designs. Begampuri sarees can be identified by their loosely woven, light-weight, and translucent body and have contrasting borders in red, black, purple, orange, etc. These are also emphasized by a serrated edge motif. Narrow borders are woven with designs of a variety of stripes and figured motifs using dyed cotton yarn on the weft.

Shantipur and Fulia Taant sarees: These sarees are from Nadia. They are characterized by a soft hand feel, vibrant colors, and intricate woven motifs.
Dhaniakhali or Dhonekhali: These sarees originate from Hooghly. They are known for pastel shades with large striped patterns and fewer patterns.
Kalna: (Burdwan) These taant sarees come in vibrant and bright colors.
Atpur: Originating from Hooghly. These are comparatively cheaper than other variations of Taant sarees and are used for everyday wear.

Hope you are now more equipped to differentiate between powerloom and handloom saree. Do share your shopping experience.

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