Sari History Trough the Ages

Want to know about sari history? Sit back and let us tell you about the oldest sari tradition that has withstood the test of time for more than 5,000 years. This ancient and exotic sari is India’s national dress for women and Indian women love to drape this 6-9 yard fabric around their body. 

Though the origin of sari is a bit obscure, we are sure that ancient Indian women were using long and wide cloths to drape their body, gleaned from legends in ancient manuscripts such as the Vedic Scripts, Mahabharata, Silappadhikaram, Kadambari and Natya Shastra. This texts date back to approximately 1500 to 500 BC. Many scholars believe the earliest texts date back 5000 years! 

draupadi and saree in Mahabharata

The word sari itself is a corrupted version of Sanskrit word ‘sati’ which means 'strip of cloth'. Silappadhikaram and the Kadambari an ancient Tamil poetry , describes women in exquisite drapery or sari. While the Natya Shastra- an ancient Indian treatise describing ancient dance and costumes, states that the navel of the Supreme Being is considered to be the source of life and creativity, hence the midriff is to be left bare by the sari. Sari or sari like long dress is also mentioned in the world longest epic Mahabharata. The legend has it that when the Pandavas lost their wife Draupadi to the enemy clan in a gambling duel, the victors caught one end of her sari and continued to pull and unravel, but could reach no end. 

Sari History - Facts

Archeological fact dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization (2800-1800 BC) around the western part of the Indian subcontinent. The earliest known depiction of the sari in the Indian subcontinent is the statue of an Indus Valley priest wearing a drape. Sari-like drape covering the entire body dates back to 100 B.C. A North-Indian Terracotta depicts a woman wearing a Sari wound tightly around her entire body in the trouser style. 

women in sari Satavahana

Sculptures from the Gandhara, Mathura and Gupta schools (1st-6th century AD) show goddesses and dancers wearing what appear to be a dhoti wrap. While, Ajanta cave murals (circa 5th Century AD) shows women wearing sarees that cover the entire body. While a Portuguese traveller in the early 1500's described women wearing white garments very thin cotton or silk of bright colour, five yards long, one part of which is girt round their below and the other part on their shoulder across their breasts in such a way that the arm and shoulder remains uncovered. 

Sari History - Traditional Believes

Although in today's world, the sari is more of a fashion statement, the traditional meanings and symbolism are still important to know apart from sari history. You will be surprised that this attire as very deep meaning and traditional which evolved around the following believes; 

• First of all, Hindus believed stitched clothes are impure. 

• Hindus considered navel as a source of life and creativity which explains why in a sari the midriff is left bare. 

• The Ancient Indian concept of beauty was that of small waist and large bust and hips, and the sari seemed to be the perfect dress as it exposes the waist of a woman and emphasizes the waist and bust with the pleated fabric. 

There is no other attire which does all the above. Making women more feminine, while covering her body from head to toe, exposing the waist of a woman, emphasizing the waist and bust and yet making a woman look modest and coy. 

While an international image of the modern style sari may have been first popularized by airline stewardesses, sari has gained its new stardom through beauties like Ashwarya Rai, Shipla Shetty, and other Indian actresses and models. Even, celebrities like Angelina Jones, Elizabeth Hurley and Oprah Winfrey have worn sari. You should recal seeing Oprah Winfrey wearing a saree when Aishwarya Rai went to her show. 

Designers like Valentino designed a saree dress for Jackie O way back in 50s and it was followed by other designers like John Galliano, Jean Paul and Gaultier, Armani and others. As time goes on the sari only becomes more and more important to the tradition and culture of Indian heritage. 

Although sari has evolved over the millennium and became fashionable with sophisticated patterns, vibrant colors and drape styles, sari has retained its originality and has long captivated people's fascination. It is impressive for a type of clothing to survive and thrive for such a long period of time. Apart from sari history, the other pages will introduce you to various uses of sari fabric from designer dress to a table cloth, curtain, or framed portrait. 



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