Sarees or Saris are the epitome of Indian diversity and culture. Sari has its own grace and charm. The woman clad in a sari looks elegant and gorgeous compared to any other outfit. The evolution of today’s saree from ancient times is no less exciting than the stories of Puranas.
There are many varieties and variations of saris found in India, depending on the region, fabric, occasions and draping styles. You might be surprised to know, the history and origin of the sari are as old as Indus valley civilization. Let’s see how saree evolved through the ages.
The earliest known depiction of the sari in the Indian subcontinent is the statue of an Indus Valley priest wearing a drape. In the history of Indian clothing, the sari is traced back to the Indus Valley Civilization, which flourished during 2800–1800 BC around the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent.
Cotton and Silk are two oldest and natural man-made fabric that were used weave sarees. Cotton was first cultivated and woven in Indian subcontinent around 5th millennium BC. Dyes used during this period are still in use, particularly indigo, lac, red madder, and turmeric. Silk was woven around 2450 BC and 2000 BC.
According to Wikipedia, the sari evolved from a three-piece ensemble comprising the Antriya, the lower garment; the Uttariya; a veil worn over the shoulder or the head; and the Stanapatta, a chestband. This ensemble is mentioned in Sanskrit literature and Buddhist Pali literature during the 6th century B.C. This complete three-piece dress was known as Poshak, a generic term for a costume.
Ancient Antriya closely resembled dothi wrap in the “fishtail” version which was passed through legs, covered the legs loosely and then flowed into a long, decorative pleats at front of the legs. It further evolved into Bhairnivasani skirt, today known as ghagra and lehenga.
Uttariya was a shawl-like veil worn over the shoulder or head; it evolved into what known today is known as dupatta and ghoongat. Likewise, Stanapatta evolved into choli by 1st century A.D.
Between 2nd century B.C to 1st century A.D, Antariya and Uttariya were merged to form a single garment known as sari mentioned in Pali literature, which served the purpose of two garments in one-piece. From here saree was born and later gradually evolved into thousand gharanas coming in the magic touch with the multiplicity of ethnic Indian culture.
The word ‘Sattika’ is mentioned as describing women’s attire in ancient India in Sanskrit literature and Buddhist literature called Jatakas. This could be equivalent to modern day ‘Sari’.
The word sari described in Sanskrit śāṭī which means ‘strip of cloth’ and śāḍī or sāḍī in Pali, and which was corrupted to sāṛī in modern Indian languages.
The Sari, now after having survived hundreds of years of changes, invasions, colonization, and globalization has now emerged as a much fancied, glamorous and sexy outfit, seen adorned by beautiful women all over the world. Even most Bollywood divas today adorn sarees on various occasions.
The Sari gives a woman a sense of luxury, grace, elegance, and femininity like no other. A Saree is definitely a show stopper, whether on the red carpet, or a friend’s wedding, or an office party. There is a sari for every occasion. Sari makes the woman wearing it feel like a princess, glamorous, beautiful and special.
Saree is truly the most versatile garment. The same Sari can be draped in several different ways, worn with different kinds of blouses, even trousers, and accessorized in numerous ways.
Sarees come in a whole range of different fabrics, colors, patterns, with different prints, work…there is literally no end with the kind of variety one can have in the wardrobe with just a few saris.