Rajasthan is the largest state in India, known for its illustrious history, grand monuments, rich culture, spicy food and colorful clothing. This ancient state is unique in terms of dressing styles and fabrics, with the dry, arid desert backdrop being the perfect setting for the development of a multi-hued, dynamic fashion ethos. From the simple clothes of rural women for daily wear to the grandiose outfits of Rajasthani royalty, the sources of inspiration are many, for designers and customers alike.
One of the most commonly worn garments for women in this state is the Rajasthani saree. This state is known for its wide range of traditional textiles, embroideries and embellishments. There are several ancient crafts that have been passed down for many centuries and are practiced only in certain villages or certain production centers. Of course, many of these have now been discovered and imitated using machines, but the truly authentic varieties can still only be sourced from the state. Rajasthani sarees are typically made using these traditional techniques, the most prominent of which is the tie and dye technique called Bandhini or Bandhej. Though this particular craft is indigenous to the whole of west India, Rajasthani Bandhani sarees are unique in their vibrancy and beauty. They use a lot of bright colors, and one saree can even display many different hues. The style of knotting and dying is carried out using fast natural dyes and can be varied to create unique designs like lehariya. In fact, when it comes to Rajasthani sarees, Bandhani is the most significant technique and hence one can find a tremendous variety of designs and colors to choose from.
The Rajasthani kota saree is another quintessential garment from this region. It is famous for its checkered weaves, fine appearance and light weight. Usually pure silk and pure cotton are used to make kota doria sarees; Rajasthani women prefer fabrics which can keep them cool and comfortable. In fact Rajasthani cotton sarees are the most loved for daily wear, as this fabric is perfect for the hot summers. This fabric is also very easy to dye into bright colors and very easy to maintain as well. Rajasthani silk sarees, on the other hand, are not very commonly worn as daily wear. Though beautiful and soft, they are not a practical option for a long and hot day. Rajasthani kota sarees made of this material are more costly because of the elaborate hand woven fabric used, as well as the more costly raw materials. These were the most beloved outfits of the royalty because of their high level of comfort, beauty and elegance.
The more festive and formal Rajasthani sarees’ collections display a variety of traditional embellishments like mirror work, patch border work, danka work, gota work, rabari work and bagru work. Often Rajasthani saree designs incorporate glittering gold and silver thread work, as well as stones, sequins, beads and shells. In term of embroidery, both zari and Resham are used though they are not native to the state. The typical motifs used include natural inspired flowers, fruits and leaves as well as animals, landscapes and mythological figures.
Nowadays, the beautiful and vibrant traditional designs from a Rajasthani style saree are being transposed on to trendier, machine made materials like georgette, chiffon and crepe. These contemporary sarees are highly in demand for their unique fusion vibe.
Styling Rajasthani Sarees
The Rajasthani saree style is incomplete without the proper accessories to complete the look. The traditional Rajasthani vibe can be achieved by opting for a soft, pure cotton kota saree with colorful checks and pairing it up with antique silver pendant sets. Such a look would be perfect for a funky, ethnic, daily wear look, for office or for casual events. On the other hand, for a festival, a Rajasthan saree bandhani style with multi-hued designs and mirror work would be most appropriate. To style the look, one can go for the elaborate red and white bangle sets often seen on Rajasthani women.
Rajasthani sarees need not always be colorful and over the top. There are many understated and elegant varieties which can be paired up with appropriate jewelry for a very sophisticated look. A pure silk kota doria saree in a chic shade of midnight blue with white dyed designs and silver borders would bring in just the right amount of class and glamour. Paired with simple pearl jewelry and a silk clutch, it will be perfect for a formal party or wedding.
A great way to accessorize a Rajasthani saree is to go for the traditional Rajasthani shoes like jutis and mojaris. These flat shoes will not really match well with formal sarees but will go beautifully with colorful cotton sarees for every day wear.