An important political and cultural center situated in Madhya Pradesh, Maheshwar is famous for a particular type of saree called Maheshwari saree, which is a speciality of this city. These sarees are famous throughout India for their unique style of harmonious balance between the border and the body of the saree. The grace and elegance of these sarees is hard to match. The Maheshwari sari is made of either pure cotton – ie, cotton wefts on cotton warps, or is mixed – ie fine silk warps and cotton weft. They are characterized by a narrow coloured border embellished with gold (zari) and small checks, narrow stripes, or solid colour in the body.
Going back to the history RaJmata Devi Ahilyabhai Holkar loved sarees and in 1760 sent for the famed weavers of Surat to enrich her kingdom with fine cloth – something worthy of the royal family. Under the princely state the weavers arts flourished and specialized into the present day Maheshwari cloth. Once an all cotton weave – in the 1950’s silk started being used in the warp and slowly became the norm. According to legends, Queen Ahilyabai ordered craftsmen from Surat and Malwa to design special 9-yard sarees to be gifted to royal guests and relatives. The sarees that were produced by these craftsmen became popular as Maheshwari sarees. It is believed that Queen Ahilyabai herself created the design of the first saree. These sarees were originally worn by the ladies of royal status, but nowadays, they are available in both national and international markets.
Maheshwar is thriving, looms are clacking everywhere and the cloth is moving in markets all over India and abroad. The demand is great for the real traditional look again.The Maheshwar loom features fly shuttle, supplementary string heddles to make the butta and dobby machines for the border patterning. The Saree borders are very geometrical with fine chevron lines and diamonds.The most common ones include chatai (woven mat pattern), Iinth (brick pattern), hira (diamond pattern) and chameli ki phool (the chameli flower) – all of which may be traced back to the detailing on the walls, niches and cornices of The Fort. The borders of these saris are reversible, and are embellished with intricate designs. Its pallu is also quite distinctive. It commonly has five stripes, three coloured alternating with two white, in the Maharastrian style. Nowadays, These fabrics are available in many other designs as well.These sarees usually have a plain body or have stripes or checks of different varieties. Some of these varieties are highly popular and are known by different names. The ‘Chandrakala’ and the ‘Baingani Chandrakala’ are examples of plain Maheshwari sarees, while the ‘Chandratara’, the ‘Beli’ and the ‘Parbi’ are examples of striped and checked ones.Now based on the design of the border, there are the following types of Maheshwari saris: Maheshwar bugdi kinar, zari patti, rui phool kinar, phool kinar, chatai kinar, Vkinar, kahar kinar, bajuband kinar, etcInterestingly the fabric is being used for all kinds of fashion and home decoration items. The cloth is light and crisp, uniquely transparent with a subtle sheen from the silk warp threads.