Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. Musings from someone who sees stories everywhere.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Baluchari sarees, timeless weaves

During a recent visit to the beautiful town of Bishnupur in West bengal's Bankura District, I was fascinated by the sight of local weavers creating magic on their looms.

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.

Baluchari sari. Photo by authorTraditional 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.
Dist. Bankura,
West Bengal

phone; 03244-256308

hope this helps,


Pradeep Nair said...

Read your article. It's truly fascinating the way the sarees are done. I recently had been to Kancheepuram in TN. Met with weavers and saw them making those precious silk sarees.

monideepa sahu said...

Hi Pradeep. Yes, the baluchari weavers' art is truly fascinating. the patterns are very delicate and rich in fine detailing. Our country is blessed with such wonderful traditions in handlooms and handicrafts, each region having its own unique contribution.

sauna kumari said...

Thanks For Beautiful info. recently i bought baluchari sarees online, its really beautiful. Thanks for sharing such a nice info with us.

Ruma Dey Baidya said...

Hi Moni,

Your article is vary short and nice. I also go through your site minutely , Great Stuff. I have already gone to Bishnupur and make a blog also, details in . Please share your views.

Ruma Dey Baidya