Much before the world was made aware of the concept of a global village, the Indian Subcontinent had embraced the idea. The merger of cultures of different princely states and regions in the country has produced some fantastic weaves and styles that are heralded to this day for their sheer beauty and exclusivity. The Narayanpet saree is one such example. This style of weaving shows the distinct influence of two states, i.e. Maharashtra and Telangana (part of erstwhile Andhra Pradesh). These sarees have had the privilege of enjoying the royal patronage of the Marathas. Regarded as the garment of the Gods, Narayanpet sarees were used to drape the idols of deities and worn exclusively by aristocracy for the longest time. The only treatment better than a royal one, is a godly one. Narayanpet sarees are all that and more.
Origin and history
Narayanpet is a quintessential sleepy village hamlet in the South of India. It is located in Telangana,165 kms from Hyderabad. One school of thought states that in 1630 AD during Shivaji Maharaj’s campaign in the Deccan, the brightly coloured saris of the ladies caught his eye and thus the Narayanpet saree got its Royal Maratha Patronage. Other versions of the tale state that the weavers, who were part of Shivaji’s camp during a campaign, were the ones who stayed back and developed the form as we see it today.
The Narayanpet saree is made either of cotton or silk. This base material is purchased usually from Vijaywada. This is of immense significance considering the fact that the weather is extremely hot all year round in Telangana.
The process of manufacturing a Narayanpet handloom saree starts with dyeing the yarn. Dyeing is the colouring process of the yarn by dipping the yarn in the boiled colour water at very high temperatures. Interestingly, higher the temperature, the more is the durability of colour. A unique process is employed for the manufacture, where eight sarees are made at one go on a loom. Hence, instead of seven yards of fabric being mounted on the loom, 56 yards of silk are mounted on the loom at a single time. A cotton Narayanpet saree takes a day or two to be made, while silk Narayanpet sarees take longer depending upon the complexity of the design.
In 2012, Narayanpet sarees got their Geographical Indicator (GI) registration with the government of India. The early weavers who settled down in the Narayanpet region in the 17th century are the pioneers of this art. The skill has been passed down from generation to generation. The entire weaver community involved in this art is located only in Narayanpet. The saris are made from fine silk/cotton and have a thread count of at least 80. There are eight threads used in weaving the saree at the borders, which help in strengthening the fabric.
Narayanpet sarees are available in cotton or cotton-silk mix or pure silk and are woven in dark earthy shades. Cotton sarees, while mostly plain, may also use coloured checks on the body, in order to lend them that ethnic look. The Narayanpet silk sarees have a distinctive style of their own, influenced by the styles evolved in the Maharashtra region with the patti border and a broad pallav known as the top-tenni pallav. The borders and pallus of Narayanpet sarees are very traditional. They are characterized by a rich pallu with a unique pattern of alternating red and white bands. The border is usually a flat expanse of deep maroon red or chocolate red, thinly separated by white or coloured lines. They come in contrasting colours with special pallus and simple borders. These sarees are very lightweight and sometimes the borders are also ornamented with small zari designs.
The Narayanpet sarees, which are used for daily wear don’t sport any motifs. The ones that are used for traditional occasions or offered to the gods may have temple motifs. Small zari designs also feature on the borders.
The saree, depending upon the material, is available in three varieties. They are either woven in cotton, silk or a cotton-silk mix. Based on their usage they can be classified as daily use, ones reserved for special occasions and the ones offered as offering to one’s holy deities.
Depending upon the material used and complexity of designs, the price of a Narayanpet saree can range from Rs.1000 to Rs.6000. This makes them pretty affordable for daily usage as is considered appropriate for married women.
- Narayanpet sarees that usually feature a chequered pattern, are characterized by a rich pallu with a unique pattern of alternating red and white bands.
- The border is usually a flat expanse of deep maroon red or chocolate red thinly separated by white or coloured lines.
According to connoisseurs of Narayanpet sarees, compared to other silk sarees, these are easy to take care of. For minor blemishes and routine care, all they need is a gentle wash in cold water with a mild detergent. Avoid using a brush at all costs as it may break the threads easily. These sarees are supposed to be dried in the shade to prevent the colour from fading. For major stains, you are better off sending the saree to the dry cleaners.
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|KNOW YOUR CRAFT: NARAYANPET SAREES
|Technique||Handloom||Distinguishing factor||Rich pallu with a unique pattern of alternating red and white bands; GI tag|
|Place of origin||Narayanpet, Telangana||Materials used||Silk, cotton and sico yarn, and natural dyes|
|Manufacturing hubs||Narayanpet, Telangana||Time taken to weave||1 to 2 days for a cotton saree; longer for a silk saree|
|Type of fabric||Cotton, silk and cotton-silk mix||Varieties||Daily use sarees and ones for auspicious occasions|
|Colours||Dark earthy shades as well as orange and blue, with maroon red and chocolate red borders||Price||Rs.1,000 to Rs.6,000|
|Motifs||None or temple motifs||Care||