Saturday, December 11, 2010

More on textiles

I am a sucker for bright colors and comfortable clothes. I love that leggings and tunics are back in style and I have been wearing shawls for the past 9 years. If you have followed my blog for any length of time you will have seen my wall of shawls. Ned has been bringing them home from his trips to India and China. They are mostly the inexpensive ones and I have built up a collection of close to 100. Indian clothing is bright and it is comfortable.... so of course I succumbed!
The most popular and most identifiable Indian clothing is of course the Sari. The old traditional sari's were 9 meters of fabric. The more modern ones are a mere 6 meters. The history of the sari goes back more than a thousand years and was initially made from the cotton that was grown in the area. It was just wrapped around the body. It was not until the British arrived that an underskirt and a blouse (called a choli) was worn. Poor British sensibilities! You first put on what looks like a tube skirt and the choli (more on that in a bit), then you start to wind the fabric around and pleating it as you go. The fabric has a border along the bottom and sometimes the top as well.  As you pleat , you tuck in the edges into the underskirt to help hold it in place. This is a learned skill! Safety pins come in very handy. You continue to wrap and pleat till you get almost to the end. The end of the Sari is usually more decorative than the rest of it. This part is tossed diagonally across the body and over the shoulder. The most beautiful of the sari's are woven out of silk with gold threads in the design. Special sari's, like those for weddings can easily be encrusted with additional embroidery and beading. They get very heavy and of course very expensive. Sari's are made out of just about anything these days and cost can be a few dollars to thousands of dollars. Hand loomed ones take anywhere from a couple of months to 2 years to weave. Choli's can be plain or also embroidered and run the gamut from a simple blouse type to fancy styled ones... some pretty sexy and risque.

I love the look of the sari and would love to walk around in one.. alas, I would look pretty silly here in the U.S... But I did buy one... I am going to cut it up and make something else from it. I bought this at one of the street markets and bargained it down to about $12.00. It is raw silk with lots of gold (not real) beads. The front end has open lace work as well. One of my many bargains!

My real favorites though for comfort is the Salwar Kameeze with and without Dupati (shawl). This consists of a tunic top which can be long or short and a pair of leggings which also come in different styles. They can be out of a cotton stretchy knit or a trouser with a tube bottom for the legs either in cotton or silk. The leg part is very long and is meant to pool at the ankle. The other style is like a harem pant that narrows at the ankle.  So I went a bit overboard... I bought 10 such outfits including a tunic jacket made out of a Pashmina. Some of these I picked up in the market stalls and some in real shops. Some were dirt cheap ($8), most were inexpensive ($25-40), a few a bit more ($75) and I splurged on the jacket .... $100... but the matching pants were $8. Other than the real cheap ones, these were all 3 piece sets. Here is the eye candy:

Long silk tunic, cotton pants, silk shawl
Long silk tunic, cotton pants, silk shawl

long hand embroidered silk tunic, harem style cotton/silk blendpants and silk shawl
short cotton top with hand embroidery, cotton leggings

Long silk tunic, silk/cotton harem pants, silk shawl

short cotton tunic, leggings

Pashmina tunic
Some of the other outfits I was wearing in photos so no need to add them here.

Varanasi or Benares is renowned for their textiles. Many of them are done with gold and silver threads and are gorgeous, but because of the prices for gold these days, these have become pretty pricey.  Besides saris, they make wall hangings, table runners, shawls, and throws. They also make non  metallic fabrics woven in gorgeous designs as well and these are more to my taste. We bought a table runner in a silk and wool blend as a gift, and here is where I picked up my silk yardage ( see previous post). The photo of the runner is not true to color. The red is really a much deeper wine color. The interior design is a small paisley. This is only half the runner.

There are some other pieces that I cannot post as yet because they are being given as gifts and the recipients do not have them as yet.... after Christmas I will post those.

This last piece is the my most favorite as art. It is going up on a wall. It measures 79" x 100" and is an antique piece. It is made from old silk fabrics with heavy metallic embroidery, mirrors, stones (not sure if glass or semi precious). There were 3 of these in total but in other colors. I wish I could have afforded them all... not to mention I have no place to put them. I have pictures of the others....These were priced by weight... and they are heavy.  I am putting up an overall but a slide show of some of the detail works. I just have to figure out a way to hang it. It's OK to drool on the screen :-).


Art by Rhoda Forbes said...

Wow, the textiles are gorgeous. And the outfits , well what can I say!

deanna7trees said...

wow is right. just beautiful.

Gerrie said...

Those are all my colors!1 I love those outfits.

Anonymous said...

Just back for another look... oh yeah... I am drooling! I love those outfits...I am sure they look pretty terrific on you...

Suzanne Sanger said...

The antique piece is FABULOUS! I'm SO jealous.

Jamie Fingal said...

Loved seeing your travel journal of your trip, but it is the textiles that tickle my fancy. Absolutely beautiful. I love the textures and bright colors. Thank you so much for sharing everything with us!

Bethany said...

I've always thought saris were gorgeous and look stunning on anyone. We Americans have no taste in clothing..LOL. Somehow jeans and a t-shirt just have no visual beauty. Although (and I could be wrong) I think jeans have their place in American history just like the clothing of other nations have theirs.

Love your post and the textile information.