History of Paithani:
A town in Aurangabad district, Paithan is a quiet religious
place on the northern banks of the river Godavari in Maharashtra.
In ancient times, Paithan was a prosperous trade center called
'Pratisthan' and exported rich fabrics and precious stones to far
of lands. Today the glorious past has stayed behind in the form of
'Paithani', a poem in silk and gold.
The Paithani derives its name from Paithan where it has been
produced for 2000 years. It is essentially a silk saree with an
ornamented zari pallav and border and traditional motifs. The saree
is often known by the motif that dominates its border or
A special feature of Paithani is that no mechanical means are
used to produce the designs. Skilled weavers count the threads of
the wrap for each part of the design and using tiny cloth pins or
'tillies', interlock the silk or gold yarn on the weft with them.
The progress is slow. Sometimes only half an inch came be woven in
a 12 hours.
The price of such painstaking workmanship is bound to be high.
It takes at least a month and a half to weave the simplest Paithani
and from five to nine months to make the brocade one.
Normally Paithani is woven using slik yarn and the zari is drawn
from pure gold. But today an economically viable saree may be woven
substituting silver for gold and cotton for silk.
The oldest traditional Paithani motifs are Asavli (vine
and flowers) and Akruti (squarish flower forms). Some
other traditional motifs are Narli (coconut form),
Pankha (fan), Rui Phul (a kind of flower) and
Kalas Pakli (a petal form). Stroks and swans were popular
motifs during the Shalivahan era, while the golden lotus in Yadav
times. The Moghul period inspired new motifs derived from flowers,
plants, trees and birds, e.g. Peacock in Bangdi Mor
design. The Ajanta influence is seen in motifs like Ajanta lotus,
the triple bird and the seated Buddha. Some other motifs are
Kuyri Vel (mango), Anaar Vel (grapes),
Gokarna Vel (Gokarna flower), Tota - Maina
(parrot), Humaparinda (pheasant) and
Behestiparinda (bird of paradise).
Though a traditional Paithani has a plain body, it is not
unusual to have tiny motifs or 'butties' of various shapes, such as
Paise (coin), Tara (star), Phool
(flower), Paan (leaf),etc.
The Paithani comes in various colours, some pure and some
resulting from the blending of yarns of different colours in the
weave. Usually the dominant colour in the border and the pallav is
different from the body. The local names for the colours are
Kaali Chandrakala (black), Uddani ( faint black),
Pophali (yellow), Neeligungi (blue),
Pasila (red-pink-green blend), Pheroze
(white-red-pale green), Samprus (green-red),
Kusumbi (purple-red), Motiya (pale pink) and
Paithani - An Enduring Emotion:
The Paithani is as durable as it is beautiful. It may be handed
down as an heirloom for several generations. And even when the silk
finally wears, the border and the pallav of a true Paithani may be
burned to leave a ball of solid gold - the parting gift of gracious