Intricate Baluchari saris are works of art woven in silk. The borders and pallu are embellished with exquisite motifs inspired by the epics, mythology and traditional texts, as also scenes from courtly life. Each panel of these delicately woven sarees tells a timeless story. A single sari can depict an entire episode from the Mahabharata or Ramayana, woven into its border and pallu. The magical weaves with their centuries-old tradition continue to enchant through generations. They take pride of place in the heirloom collection of Bengali women.
Traditional Baluchari sarees are woven in the history-steeped town of Bishnupur, in West Bengal’s Bankura district. There are several clusters of weavers here who continue to create enchanting sarees. Haradhan Bishoi oversees one such setup, where eight or nine weavers work at any given time. The mulberry silk is sourced locally, he tells us. The entire process, from rearing silkworms, to spinning and dyeing the yarn, and then designing and weaving sarees, is done locally. The fine and soft local silk has a unique lustre. To make the yarn supple and shiny, it is boiled in a mixture of soda and soap and then dyed. Designing these sarees requires elaborate planning and execution. Each saree takes two expert weavers, working by turns, around a week to weave. The more complex ones can take much longer. The sarees are hand-woven on jacquard punch-card looms. Creating intricate designs for the border, butis and pallus of Baluchari sarees is an elaborate process. The design is drawn on a graph paper and then punched on cards. After punching, these cards are joined in sequence and fixed in the jacquard machine. These coded and punched chains of jacquard cards control the movement of the warp on the loom to create finely woven details in silk.
My published article may be read in Sunday Herald
I've received several inquiries from readers for Bishnupur contacts and replied individually. For others who might be interested, here are the contacts of Haradhan Bishoi. They have an excellent collection of saris for all budgets, for sale wholesale and retail.
Anuvab, manufacturers of Baluchari and Swarnachari sarees.
hope this helps,