The saree is one of the oldest and the only surviving unstitched garment from the past. Men and women of the contemporary Indus Valley Civilization were familiar with cotton fabrics and wore long pieces of material which could best be described as loin cloths. Women of most of these civilizations wore only such loin cloths, leaving the upper part of the body bare, except in winter when animal skins or woolen shawl-like garments were used for protection from harsh weather.
When the Aryans came into the plains of the mighty north Indian rivers, they brought with them clothes which were actually pieces of treated leather made into wearable clothing. Their wardrobes also included woolen clothing as they lived in colder climates. They started wearing cotton weaves like the Indus Valley inhabitants. In time, this style of wearing a length of cloth around the waist, especially for women, and the cloth itself came to be known as Neevi. In ancient times, women were wearing extraordinarily beautiful clothes with ornate embroidery. They wore exquisite jewelry too. The normal outfit of a woman evolved to a three part ensemble. Lower garment wrapped around the waist was the “Neevi”. Clothing that covered the breasts was “Kanchuki” and a shawl-like garment called “Uttariya” completed the outfit. Uttariyas were the most immediately visible part of the attire, hence were ornamented, dyed or embroidered according to the status of the woman who is wearing it.
But soon, the next stage in the development of the saree came. The influence of the Greeks and the Persians resulted in a major change in the way Indian woman dressed up. The Persians were already wearing a lengthy outfit held together at the shoulder and a beautiful belt to accessorize the waist. This caught the fancy of India’s women, who used it to suit their lighter, more ornamental fabrics. The Persians also introduced to India the art of encrusting fabrics with pearls and precious stones.
In the Mughal period, miniature paintings of several schools and hand-illustrated manuscripts of the Indian history showed the gracefully draped saree of today for the first time. The Pallu or Daman as the upper end of the saree was called may have been invented and used from then on to cover the head. Thus, it may well be said that the saree is a mingling of influences from Greece, Persia and several other Central Asian countries.
Many of the plays and poems that were written by the court writers of this age described how shimmering and flawless the garments worn by the higher classes were. Several names were given to these fabrics depending upon their origin or texture. The all round development of textiles in India had a definite impact on the design of sarees. Colors to suit the Indian woman’s complexion were accurately identified.
Sarees were printed with vegetable dyes, using wooden blocks carved expertly with fashionable motifs brought into India with the advent of the French, the Portuguese and the British. Though centuries have passed since the saree was conceived as the Indian woman’s hereditary costume, the charm of this beautiful and extraordinary feminine garment, suited to the youngest of girls or the most elderly among woman is priceless. In spite of the limited scope for any change in the garment, women in saree are the most beautiful and will definitely stand out in the crowd.
In the modern world, it continues to be an economical and easy-to-wear garment, suitable for work, leisure or luxury. Over a period of time, several cities in India have become renowned saree manufacturing centers. Even today, women continue to buy sarees with great enthusiasm, especially during festivals and wedding seasons. With the advent of internet technology, it is possible for women to buy Indian saree online with a click of the mouse right from the comfort of their home, and wait for it to get delivered at their doorstep. Just in case they are not satisfied with the product, they can return them easily. Online shopping is more transparent and convenient. You can get anything you have ever wished for today online as the whole world is online today.