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India Anonymous,
Sari with Fringe, 18th c.
104 in. x 49 in. (264.16 cm x 124.46 cm)

Object Type: Textile
Technique: Woven
Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Henrietta Brewer
Accession Number: T106

Object Description
Double ikat, patola, sari, woven in white, yellow, red, maroon, and teal silk thread. Striped borders edged with parrots, elephants, and dancing women. Body patterned in repeating paan, or betel leaf, motif. Fringed end pieces.

The sari is a quintessential example of a Patola sari from Gujarat. These saris, woven since the eleventh century, are some of the highest examples of ikat craftsmanship in the world. The process involved in patola is painstaking, to say the least. As Rta Kapur Chrishti says in her book, Saris of India, making a patola sari requires “yarn preparation, multiple resist dying and retying of warp and weft threads for each successive color from palest to darkest, and then adjusting each thread in the weave so that the pattern emerged perfectly.” When one considers the craftsmanship and beauty of patola saris, it is no wonder that they are as highly prized as the most glittering brocades.

The parrots, elephants, dancing women, and paan in this sari are traditional symbols for luck and fertility. Similarly, the sari’s reddish color scheme would have symbolized the wearer’s vitality. Not surprisingly perhaps, this sari is a bridal sari.

For more information:
Kapur, Rta. Saris of India: Tradition and Beyond. Roli Books Private Ltd, 2010.
Crill, Rosemary. Indian Ikat Textiles. London, UK: V&A Publication, 1998.

(Tara Contractor SC’13, Academic Year Wilson Intern, 2010-2011)

Gift of Mrs. Henrietta F. Brewer, 1946.

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