Many of us might have owned handloom sarees or seen them pass down from one generation to another. Yet, how often do we stop to think about each meticulously created detail that manifests itself in these beautiful pieces?
Tant saris are the Traditional Bengali saris . It flourished during the Mughal reign, but declined during British Rule, as it hampered their textile industry. It again thrived after the British left. Tantsaris ,once popular only in Bengal and Bangladesh , have now won the hearts of sareelovers worldwide.
Tant saris are made of pure cotton threads. The body of the sari is of 6meter and weaved with light cotton while the border is made a little thick to avoid wearing out. Traditionally tant saris were made in handlooms.But nowadays, some weavers have also switched over to power looms, mainly for economic reasons.
Unique designs, unmatched craftsmanship and construction make theTantsarees of West Bengal, popular. They come in a wide variety, each with intricate texture, flawlessness and a unique style of ornamentation.
Tantshilpa(common name for the art of weaving cotton sarees in Bengal) has been deriving its inspiration from the fabrics exclusively found in this regions- Burdwan, Shantipur, Phulia, Bankura, Dhonekali and much more. Some popular sarees produced in Bengal are Shantipuri, Donekali, Jamdani, and Tangail. Atpur in the Hoogly district was also wellknown in this handloom industry, for its unique variety of sarees.
Tant sari sports floral and paisley motifs design in its traditional form. Sometimes tant saris come with hand embroideries. Today, the weavers have started experimenting with new designs and patterns. Some innovation types include the zari pad having wide border woven with golden thread, baluchuri pad, banarasitantetc, which gives a modern look to the traditionaltant saris.
Tantsarees can be classified based on the region in which they are woven, or the motifs depicted on the sarees. The major regions of tant production in West Bengal today are:
- Fulia and Shantipur (in Nadia): Combining the weaving styles of the original Shantipur weavers and the migrant weavers from Tangail who settled in Fulia, this region has developed the “FuliaTangail” style of weaving and produces among the best quality tantsarees today. These tants are soft and fine in texture, comes in vibrant colours and have large, intricately woven motifs.
- Dhaniakhali (or Dhonekhali in Hooghly): Tantsarees from this region are of good quality, mainly come in pastel shades and have striped patterns and fewer motifs.
- Begampur (in Hooghly): Begampur specializes in loosely woven, light-weight and translucent sarees in deep, bright colours.
- Kalna (in Burdwan): Tants from this region are based on the Tangail style of weaving.
- Atpur (in Hooghly): This town was known for producing coarser sarees and dhotis for everyday wear. The term “Atpoure” which means “common wear” denotes the Bengali style of wearing sarees which used to be the traditional way of draping for women of this region.
A variety of traditional motifs are woven in the borders and pallav of the tantsarees. Some of the popular ones are: bhomra (bumble bee), tabij (amulet), rajmahal (royal palace), ardha-chandra (half moon), chandmala (garland of moons), ansh (fish scale), hathi (elephant), nilambari (blue sky), ratanchokh (gem-eyed), benki (spiral), tara (star), kalka (paisley) and phool (flower).