Monday, December 7, 2009

Sariज्ञानकोश: - The Indological Knowledgebase
Sari has two meanings:
• name of an Indian garment worn by women.
• the capital of the Iranian province of Mazandaran, see Sari (city).
{{This article largely deals with the sari as a clothing worn by women in the Indian subcontinent}}
A sari (also spelled saree) is a garment worn in special folds by a large number of women in the India. It is usually 5-6 yard of unstiched cloth worn over a blouse that comes a little below the breastbone, and a petticoat as a lower garment beneath the drape.

Types of saris

The classic saree
The classic saree or ‘Nivi drape’ consists of a single strip of cloth, draped below the navel and around the hips to form the lower section of the clothing. More drapery is wrapped over this, with several folds of elegant pleats in the front, tucked over a petticoat. This gracefully accentuates the contours of the person wearing it. The word ‘nivi’ means or refers to, the flowering pleats of the saree that hangs below the navel held on by a knot in ancient saris. The Pallu or pallav is the portion of the saree which is draped diagonally in the front. It is worn across the right hip to over the left shoulder, along the navel and partially over the midriff, partly baring them. The long end of the pallu hanging from the back of the shoulder is heavily embroidered and intricately decorated. The term ‘nivi’ was brought into the mainstream by the researcher Kamla .S. Dongerkerry, in 1959, in her treatise on the Indian Sari. The saree is modestly sensuous and elegantly conservative. This balanced combination has led to its continuation for a very long time. .

Various types
There are various styles in making and wearing a sari. These are determined as much by geographical location in India as by tradition and taste. Different styles include, kanchivaram, patola, hakoba, zari, and others.
The French cultural Anthropologist and most extensive researcher of the saree, Chantal Boulanger, details several broad families of Sarees, in her seminal work, Saris: An Illustrated Guide to the Indian Art of Draping, (1997). These broad families of sarees are: the dhoti family (eg: Brahmin sarees from Tamil Nadu in South India), Dravidian saris (eg: Pinkosu saris from Tamil Nadu), nivi saris (sarees of Andhra Pradesh in South India), the tribal saris (eg: Coorg Saris of Madikeri), and the Gond related family of sarees (the saris worn by Maharashtrian women from Mul). The ‘Nivi style’ or the classic ‘Nivi saree,’ is today the most popular form of wearing the saree.
Madisaar - 9-yard sari worn by Brahmin community [1]
Origins and history
The saree is probably the longest running and oldest apparel in the world. Its earliest depiction is perhaps the Indus valley figurine, showing a priest with saree with flower pattern, indicating the likely origins of the sari in the Indian subcontinent. The oldest South Indian Epic, the Silappadhikaram, describes the ethos of South Indian sari beauty. The Kadambari by Banabhatta, describes exquisite drapery of women in the region south of the vindhyas. The clothing of ancient Indian women in the age of the Mauryan dynasty and Gupta Empire did not cover their stomachs. The upper garment of women was a scarf like cloth called the Uttariya, along with a breast band called the Sthanapattam or stanapatta. This was a garment tied in a knot at the back, and the lower garment consisted of a dhoti like clothing. The word sari comes from the ancient Tamil term siri or seere. Several references 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. This ancient form of the pallu-less saree was almost completely preserved as traditional clothing in Kerala, in South India till the 1970’s. It was in the form of a two-piece mundum-neriyathum, with a gold-bordered shawl. The pallu was added much later to the saree.

The traditional philosophy
The saree is the finest expression of Hindu philosophy, which is essentially, the celebration of the eternal universe through the celebration of the beauty of the body and Femininity-motherhood (see Devi). In ancient Indian philosophy, as expressed in the Natya Shastra, the navel of the Supreme Being is considered as the source of life and creativity. Hence by tradition, the stomach and the navel is to be left unconcealed, though the philosophy behind the sari has largely been forgotten. This makes the realization of ‘sharira-mandala,’ where in ‘Angikam bhuvanam yasya’ (the body as the world) unites with the ‘sharira-mandala’ ( the whole universe). The Swiss psychoanalyst, Carl Gustav Jung, describing the sensuous beauty of the saree, said: "It would be a loss to the whole world if the Indian woman should cease to wear her native costume. India is practically the only civilized country where one can see on living models how woman can and should dress".
There are a few important aspects of a sari. The pallu which is the free end of the sari can be worn over the head, as a mark of respect for elders, as a custom, or for style, or be left to hang free at the back. The other important, and much looked for, part of the sari is the border. It is usually adorned by prints and designs which are different from the overall pattern on the sari. This adornment can sometimes take the form of intricate patterns handcrafted using delicate gold thread known as zari. In this way, the border of a sari is often a status symbol.
•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.
•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.

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