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Maheshwari Saree is a blend of cotton and silk fabric woven in varied designs with zari and brocade. Originating from the town of Maheshwar in Madhya Pradesh, Maheshwari fabric is mainly used in making a saree other than dupattas and Salwar-Kameez.
The origin of the Maheshwari sarees dates back to the 18th century, when the state of Indore in Madhya Pradesh was ruled by Queen Ahilyabai Holkar. Queen Ahilyabai ordered craftsmen from Surat and Malwa to design unique 9-yard sarees that were to be gifted to royal guests and relatives. The sarees that were produced by these craftsmen became popular as Maheshwari sarees. It is believed that Queen Ahilyabai herself created the design of the first saree.
The designs in the Maheshwari sarees were inspired by the detailing on the walls of the Fort of Maheshwar. The popular designs used in these sarees, which were inspired from the designs on the fort walls are the Chatai (mat), Chameli ka phool (white flower), Eent (red brick), Heera (Diamond). Even in today’s time one could find the same designs apart from plain, stripes and checks.
The beauty of the Maheshwari saree is that each kind of Saree under this style has a name or a term of its own, which marks its distinctness. The sarees are either plain in the center with exquisitely designed borders, or have checks and stripes in different variations. There are 5 major categories, which are namely ‘Chandrakala, Baingani Chandrakala, Chandratara, Beli and Parbi. The Chandrakala and Baingani Chandrakala are the plain kind, whereas the Chandratara, Beli and Parbi fall under the striped or checked technique.
Formerly, Maheshwari sarees were made of pure silk but in course of time they were blended with pure cotton. Maheshwari sarees are extremely light in weight and are similar to Kanchipuram Sarees of Southern India.
Maheshwari sarees were initially made in all darker shades like, red, maroon, green, purple and black. Nowadays due to high demand of other colors in these sarees, they are also being made in additional light and dark shades of red, green, yellow, orange, purple, fuschia, brown and blue.
The unique feature of a Maheshwari saree is its reversible border. The border is designed in such a way that both sides of the saree can be worn. This is locally known as Bugdi.
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