A Brief History of Sarees

Beautiful girl in traditional Indian sari on temple background.

Think back to five thousand years ago. Not a lot would be the same. No phones, no electricity, no books or cars – but one thing would be the same: sarees. Let us quickly explain you the history of sarees.

The history of sarees culture goes back to 3300 B.C.E. The Vedas, one of the oldest texts of mankind, mentions sarees from the Indus Valley.

All that time ago and people still wear them today. Why? Well for one, they’re great in any type of weather. For another, they’re cultural garments.

Finally? Maybe you just like how they look. Whatever your reasoning is, you can learn more about them below.

Stitch Free History of Sarees

Back when sarees were first worn, there was a Hindu belief that if you stitched a fabric, it was impure. Maybe because something the needle made a hole in the clothing.

We don’t know. We do know that’s why sarees don’t have sewn together parts. They’re four or eight meters long and draped with meticulous care.

Before the one-piece wraparound, we wear today, they wore three separate pieces. It consisted of a chest band, a shoulder wrap, and a lower garment.

This was the ancient predecessor to not only the saree but to lenhngas, ghagras, and cholis.

Saree Stitching and Decor

The stitching of beautiful and complex embroidery on sarees didn’t come until 1275. The Persians introduced the art of stitching to India and that made sarees much more intricate.

The next advancement in sarees came with the Mughuls. They were a rich people, that had time to make advancements in stitching and fabric dying.

We also see them starting the trouser trend for men, instead of the loincloths (yes, still) men were wearing at that point.

The saree as we know it today came post-Mughuls, a mix between the original three-piece outfit and the stitched-Mughul inspired style.

Sarees Through the Years

There are over eighty variations of the saree in the countries around the Indian Ocean and their neighbors.

The Bengali and Odia styles have no pleats and less fabric. They fall more naturally than a classic Saree.

Then you have the Kodagu Style, which is essentially a classic saree worn backward.

There’s a two-piece version named the Malayali, the list goes on and on.

Each sub-type of the saree comes with its own subtypes. Different patterns, embroidery, fabrics, and colors separate one Kodagu (for example) from another.

Bringing Sarees to Current Times

If you love sarees but don’t love the work it takes to wear them and put them on, modern times have a solution for you. We’re seeing more saree inspired styles but put together to help you live your modern life.

Saree t-shirts, half and half sarees, neon colors, and low cut designs are all showing up in Indian culture. We’re seeing more influence from the West with regards to design and even screen printing.

New fabric blends are popping up too, some of which keep women much cooler than a traditional saree.

However you wear them or even if you don’t, now you know the history of saree design in India.

Follow our blog for more Indian culture-specific party sarees and lifestyle tips.

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