AskDefine | Define sari

Dictionary Definition

sari n : a dress worn primarily by Hindu women; consists of several yards of light material that is draped around the body [syn: saree]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Noun

  1. The traditional dress of women in the Indian Subcontinent; an outer garment consisting of a single length of cotton or silk, most often with one end wrapped around the waist to form a skirt, the other draped over the shoulder or head.

Translations

cloth
  • Finnish: sari

Noun

sari

Extensive Definition

Saris are woven with one plain end (the end that is concealed inside the wrap), two long decorative borders running the length of the sari, and a one to three foot section at the other end which continues and elaborates the length-wise decoration. This end is called the pallu; it is the part thrown over the shoulder in the Nivi style of draping.
In past times, saris were woven of silk or cotton. The rich could afford finely-woven, diaphanous silk saris that, according to folklore, could be passed through a finger-ring. The poor wore coarsely woven cotton saris. All saris were handwoven and represented a considerable investment of time or money.
Simple hand-woven villagers' saris are often decorated with checks or stripes woven into the cloth. Inexpensive saris were also decorated with block printing using carved wooden blocks and vegetable dyes, or tie-dyeing, known in India as bhandani work.
More expensive saris had elaborate geometric, floral, or figurative ornament created on the loom, as part of the fabric. Sometimes warp and weft threads were tie-dyed and then woven, creating ikat patterns. Sometimes threads of different colors were woven into the base fabric in patterns; an ornamented border, an elaborate pallu, and often, small repeated accents in the cloth itself. These accents are called buttis or bhutties (spellings vary). For fancy saris, these patterns could be woven with gold or silver thread, which is called zari work.
Sometimes the saris were further decorated, after weaving, with various sorts of embroidery. Resham work is embroidery done with colored silk thread. Zardozi embroidery uses gold and silver thread and sometimes pearls and precious stones. Cheap modern versions of zardozi use synthetic metallic thread and imitation stones, such as fake pearls and Swarovski crystals.
In modern times, saris are increasingly woven on mechanical looms and made of artificial fibers, such as polyester, nylon, or rayon, which do not require starching or ironing. They are printed by machine, or woven in simple patterns made with floats across the back of the sari. This can create an elaborate appearance on the front, while looking ugly on the back. The punchra work is imitated with inexpensive machine-made tassel trim.
Hand-woven, hand-decorated saris are naturally much more expensive than the machine imitations. While the over-all market for handweaving has plummeted (leading to much distress among Indian handweavers), hand-woven saris are still popular for weddings and other grand social occasions.

Types of saris

While an international image of the 'modern style' sari may have been popularised by airline stewardesses, 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, in South Asia:

Northern styles

Eastern styles

Central styles

Origins and history

The word 'sari' evolved from the Prakrit word '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 BCE. The earliest known depiction of the saree in the Indiain subcontinent is the statue of an Indus valley priest wearing a drape.
Ancient Tamil poetry, such as the Silappadhikaram and the Kadambari by Banabhatta, describes women in exquisite drapery or saree. In ancient Indian tradition and the Natya Shastra (an ancient Indian treatise describing ancient dance and costumes), 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 saree.
Some costume historians believe that the men's dhoti, which is the oldest Indian draped garment, is the forerunner of the sari. They say that until the 14th century, the dhoti was worn by both men and women.
Sculptures from the Gandhara, Mathura and Gupta schools (1st-6th century AD) show goddesses and dancers wearing what appears to be a dhoti wrap, in the "fishtail" version which covers the legs loosely and then flows into a long, decorative drape in front of the legs http://www.pir.net/~beth/Saris/Fishtail/Fishtail.html. No bodices are shown.
Other sources say that everyday costume consisted of a dhoti or lungi (sarong), combined with a breast band and a veil or wrap that could be used to cover the upper body or head. The two-piece Kerala mundum neryathum (mundu, a dhoti or sarong, neryath, a shawl, in Malayalam) is a survival of ancient Indian clothing styles, the one-piece sari is a modern innovation, created by combining the two pieces of the mundum neryathum.
It is generally accepted that wrapped sari-like garments, shawls, and veils have been worn by Indian women for a long time, and that they have been worn in their current form for hundreds of years.
One point of particular controversy is the history of the choli, or sari blouse, and the petticoat. Some researchers state that these were unknown before the British arrived in India, and that they were introduced to satisfy Victorian ideas of modesty. Previously, women only wore one draped cloth and casually exposed the upper body and breasts. Other historians point to much textual and artistic evidence for various forms of breastband and upper-body shawl.
In South India, it is indeed documented that women from many communities wore only the sari and exposed the upper part of the body till the 20th century. Poetic references from works like Shilappadikaram indicate that during the sangam period in ancient South India, a single piece of clothing served as both lower garment and head covering, leaving the bosom and midriff completely uncovered. In Kerala there are many references to women being bare-breasted. including many pictures by Raja Ravi Varma. Even today, women in some rural areas do not wear cholis.

Notes

References and bibliography

  • Alkazi, Roshan (1983) "Ancient Indian costume", Art Heritage
  • Ambrose, Kay (1950) Classical Dances and Costumes of India. A. & C. Black, London.
  • Beck, Brenda. (1976) The Symbolic Merger of Body, Space, and Cosmos in Hindu Tamil Nadu. Contributions to Indian Sociology 10(2): 213-43.
  • Bharata (1967). The Natyashastra [Dramaturgy], 2 vols., 2nd. ed. Trans. by Manomohan Ghosh. Calcutta: Manisha Granthalaya.
  • Boulanger, Chantal; (1997) Saris: An Illustrated Guide to the Indian Art of Draping, Shakti Press International, New York.
  • Craddock, Norma. (1994). Anthills, Split Mothers, and Sacrifice: Conceptions of Female Power in the Mariyamman Tradition. Dissertation, U. of California, Berkeley.
  • Dongerkerry, Kamala, S. (1959) The Indian sari. New Delhi.
  • Ghurye (1951) "Indian costume", Popular book depot (Bombay); (Includes rare photographs of 19th century Namboothiri and nair women in ancient saree with bare upper torso).
  • Miller, Daniel & Banerjee, Mukulika; (2004) "The Sari", Lustre press / Roli books
  • Mohapatra, R. P. (1992) "Fashion styles of ancient India", B. R. Publishing corporation, ISBN 81-7018-723-0
  • Parthasarathy, R. (1993) The Tale of an Anklet: An Epic of South India – The Cilappatikaram of Ilanko Atikal, Translations from the Asian Classics, Columbia Univ. Press, New York, 1993.

External links

sari in Arabic: ساري (زي)
sari in Bengali: শাড়ি
sari in Czech: Sárí
sari in Danish: Sari (dragt)
sari in German: Sari (Kleidung)
sari in Dhivehi: ސާޅީ
sari in Spanish: Sari
sari in French: Sari (vêtement)
sari in Hindi: साड़ी
sari in Hebrew: סארי (בגד)
sari in Latvian: Sari (apģērbs)
sari in Lithuanian: Saris (drabužis)
sari in Dutch: Sari (traditioneel kostuum)
sari in Newari: सरि
sari in Japanese: サリー (民族衣装)
sari in Norwegian: Sari (klesplagg)
sari in Norwegian Nynorsk: Sari
sari in Polish: Sari
sari in Russian: Сари (одежда)
sari in Simple English: Sari (clothing)
sari in Slovenian: Sari
sari in Serbian: Сари
sari in Finnish: Sari (vaate)
sari in Swedish: Sari
sari in Tamil: புடவை
sari in Telugu: చీర
sari in Chinese: 莎丽
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