Paithani Silk Sarees

Paithani Mahavashtram from Aurangabad

Paithani Mahavashtram from Aurangabad


Paithani Silk Sarees is a fine silk gold embroidered saree having a heritage of over 2,000 years. Paithani Silk sarees got its name from the Paithan region in the state, where splendid creations were woven meticulously by hand.

Paithani Art has the grand legacy to share in regard. It was the capital of the Satvahana dynasty (200 BC). Paithani region used to export cotton and silk to the great Roman Empire. In course of time, Paithni gained immense popularity and it was at its peak during Maratha period. Since this time, the asavli flower was used as a popular motif. This vibrant Sari is superb inclusion of hereditary art in every bridal trousseau and forms an important heirloom too.

Silk occupies special significance on traditional occasions, and therefore Paithani Sari forms a display of pride for the women too. That is why it is called mahavashtram (royal wear). The Sari comes replete with oblique squares, peacocks, parrots and lotus in motifs. Sometimes a kaleideoscopic effect is created using a curious tapestry technique of using a single colour for weaving the length and another for weaving its width. Intricate sheathing the borders is a vintage hallmark of Paithani sari.

The motifs used are inspired by carvings of famous Ajanta caves.Often the name of Paithani is based on the very effusive colours used on Saris and bewitching embroidery lining its borders. Certain patterns are drawn in many countless tiny orbs to create spectacular, riveting radiation in silk.


History tells us that the Peshwas had a great fascination for paithani textiles. There are a number of letters in the Peshwa Daftar to give evidence of this. In one such letter dated 7.12.1768 Madhavarao Peshwa asked for the supply, pomegranate and pink colours. The Nizam of Hyderbad had visited Paithan several times as he was much attracted to the richness of paithani textile. It is believed that his daughter-in-law, Begum Nilofar had introduced some new motifs in the border as well as to designs of the pallu.

The art of weaving Paithani flourished in 200B.C., during Satvahana era. since then Paithani is coveted in India as a precious heirloom passing on from generation to generation.

It appears that the execution of this costly and rich silken gold embroidered sari must have originated from Paithan, hence the textile was called Paithani. But the production of paithani soon spread in other places like Yeola, Pune, Nasik and Malegaon. However, Yeola remained prominent and was particularly known for its kayari (mango mofit) pallur paithani.

From this it appears that during the turn of the last century, the production of paithani in Paithan must have received a great setback for some reason or the other. But Yeola weavers must have survived and continued their work to give evidence of their rich craftsmanship. Hence they were taken note of by historians. However, due to special efforts made after Independence, the rich craft of executing paithani has been revived and paithani shalu has once again become a household name in Indian textiles.


Known the world over as a poem hand woven in silk and gold, Paithani Sarees are for those with discerning and refined taste. Exquisite silk from Paithani was   exported to many countries and was traded in return for gold and precious stones. Shear dedication and the faith of the weavers have kept alive Paithani silk work for more than 2000years. Real Paithani is hand woven pure silk and gold/silver.

Intricate designs on pallu and border is a specialty of Paithani Sarees. Motifs on pallu are generally peacock, lotus, mango and other designs taken from Ajanta Caves. Traditional creative artistry and pain staking workmanship combine to form this unique cloth.

The paithani technique cannot be called simple. In fact it is a very complicated one. Here, on a zari warp thread, the weft was never thrown across, but was interlocked with different colours.

Paithani Sarees can take between 2 months to years to manufacture, depending on border and pallu design and costs from Rs.6000/- to Rs.500,000.


Paithani is characterised by borders of an oblique square design, and a pallu with a peacock design. Plain as well as spotted designs are available. Among other varieties, single colored and kaleidoscope-colored designs are also popular. The kaleidoscopic effect is achieved by using one color for weaving lengthwise and another for weaving widthwise.

A pattan (Paithani) is a gold and silk sari. In the revival of Paithani weaving, the production was oriented towards export requirements, while saris were produced only for sophisticated buyers. Paithani evolved from a cotton base to a silk base. Silk was used in weft designs and in the borders, whereas cotton was used in the body of the fabric. Present day Paithani has no trace of cotton. There was a time when silk was imported from China. Now Yeola and Paithan buy silk from Bangalore.

Another fascinating attribute of Paithani is the embroiders on its borders. Richly decorated pallu projects a variety of motifs known as asavali, bangdimors, shikar-khana, akroti, gazwel, Ajanta Lotus and human-parinds. These paithanis can also be fringed with pearls or precious stones.

The Paithani is also considered holy in Indian tradition because of use silk, which has a special importance in Indian marriages.

Status Symbol:

Currently, it is a status symbol. Next to perhaps only the rich gold brocade of Banaras the silken gold embroidered sari of Paithan, known as Paithani, stands high among the most precious and celebrated textiles of India. Like the patola of Patan (Gujarat) the paithani is a ceremonial sari worn only on special occasions. Maratha women of older generations used to prefer the paithani sari with coin motifs known as buties, spread all over the fabric. Such a sari is called the shawl. The bright green shalus with red borders and elaborate pallus were considered auspicious and worn on occasions like marriages. The pallu as well as the borders of paithani have floral and creeper motifs on a background of rich gold. Such sarees are worn by brides. Even today the knowledgeable Maharashtrian ladies who have aesthetic taste and reasonable wealth would crave for a paithani shalu as a pride possession in their wardrobe.

Call it a garment or call it a legacy of art, Paithani is the glory of Maharashtra

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