Textile Traditions of India

Shikargah, or sari with “hunting scenes”. Gold and silk brocade on silk; 635 cm. 109 cm. Varanasi. c. early 19th century. M/5/102.

The superb craftsmanship of this purple or uda coloured gold brocade sari lies in the design which has been brocaded, not by a throw shuttle, which would lead to loose threads on the underside of the motif, but by what is known as a kadhua jangles. In this brocaded pattern only the outlines of the motif receive the pattern thread on the underside, so that the interstices are not covered with unnecessary loose threads. Moreover, the silk used in the weft is the untwisted variety, rarely found in saris of today, giving the sari its title patbane ki sari.

The corner or konia of the anchal, or end-piece, is characterised by the paisley motif bound on two sides by a floral creeper. The border has a row of parrots, with their heads turned back, followed by another row of elephants amidst foliage. An additional order, with the chevron pattern , has been sewn separately on to the border.

Unusually, the upper border has been brocaded in yellow silk to make pleating and tucking-in of the sari easier. The main body is embellished with a variety of hunting animals – the tiger, peacock, deer, elephant and parrot – bound within a floral jangla or mesh.

1. In conversation with weaver M. Zafar Ali, from Varanasi.

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