Origin of the Sari

The word ‘sari’ evolved from the Prakrit ‘sattika’ as mentioned in earliest Buddhist Jain literature. The history of Indian clothing trace the sari back to the Indus valley civilization, which flourished in 2800-1800 BC. The earliest known depiction of the sari in the Indian subcontinent is the statue of an Indus valley priest wearing a drape. It’s usually the traditional female garment in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. A sari is a very long strip of unstitched cloth, ranging from four to nine metres in length, which can be draped in various styles.

The most common style is for the sari to be wrapped around the waist, with one end then draped over the shoulder baring the midriff. The sari is usually worn over a petticoat (pavada/pavadai) in the south, and shaya in eastern India), with a blouse known as a choli or ravika forming the upper garment. The choli has short sleeves and a low neck and is usually cropped, and as such is particularly well suited for wear in the sultry South Asian summers. Cholis may be “backless” or of a halter neck style. These are usually dressier with a lot of embellishments such as mirrors or embroidery and may be worn on special occasions. Women in the armed forces, when wearing a sari uniform, don a half-sleeve shirt tucked in at the waist.

India can boast of producing multiple varieties of saris from each of its states. Each region in the Indian subcontinent has developed, over the centuries, its own unique sari style. Following are the well known varieties, distinct on the basis of fabric, weaving style or motif.

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