Yeola a sleepy town in Nashik, Maharashtra is the home for the world famous Paithani Sarees. Paithani Sarees named after it’s birthplace Paithan in Aurangabad district is a traditional handloom silk saree that sport intricately embroidered gold or silver borders. Paithani sari is made of silk and zari. It is a plain weave, with weft figuring designs according to the principles of tapestry. 20-22 denier-organized silk is used in warp, while twofold ply, very lightly twisted 30-32 silk is used for weft. Traditionally, Paithanis had a coloured, cotton muslin field that often contained considerable supplementary zari patterning. However, in the 19th century, silk fields were also woven. It is considered as one of the richest saris in India.
Manmad, on the Mumbai-Howrah rail route, is the nearest railway station from where it takes half an hour by road through the lush green fields to reach Yeola. And being no exception, we also took the same route.
There are around a thousand handlooms in and around Yeola. Our travel itinerary allowed us only one day for this visit and we had to plan our meetings very meticulously. There was so much to see, discuss and understand that we decided to skip our lunch and adjust the day’s hunger by biscuits and coke which we carried with us.
The streets in Yeola are very narrow, may be designed for the bullock carts of the old times. However, it was not very difficult to travel as there aren’t many vehicles plying. The weavers and their shops are on either side of this street which houses old traditional houses with wooden stairs and ceilings. Most of them have their shops and residence in the same building. The shops are designed in old traditional style with mattresses spread on the floor with white covering sheets on which the seller and the buyer together squat and discuss over these tastefully done sarees.
The weavers we discussed are involved in this rare art form from generations, many as old as seven to ten generations. They proudly showed us their looms which were used by their forefathers to weave this beautiful piece of art, and the same weaving technology without much change is still being used by them and they continue to take their family tradition ahead, weaving beautiful Paithani sarees. These looms many as old as more than a century were the same which have woven these beautiful sarees for the ladies from the royal families and the Peshwas. In the days of Peshwas, the borders and the pallu were made of pure gold mixed with copper to give it strength. The proportion was 1 kg of gold to 1 tola of copper. The combination was spun into a fine wire called the zari. In recent times, zari is made of silver, coated with gold plating.
Most of the weavers we met use only fine and premium quality of silk and Zari, and are specialised for unique intricate patterns and motifs. The greatest advantage of them is that they have their own design and weaving centre with a team of imaginative and innovative master craftsmen who unleash the natural beauty of Indian tradition with their looms, and the knowledge of weaving at their fingertips.
The concept of rareitis was very much welcomed by most of them, as they were also looking for a genuine source for preserving this valuable tradition for their future generation. In the end, it was a very long and tiring day, but the outcome of meeting these weavers and getting them registered in rareitis as sellers was soul satisfying. A befitting reward to all the effort and pain we endured, keeping our mission at rareitis to reach out these rare Indian masterpieces to it’s connoisseurs at its true value. And most importantly, ensuring that these artisans get their worth, let’s say equal to their weight in original Zari.
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