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Maheshwari Silk Fabrics: Everything to Know About This Ancient Indian Textile Craft

Maheshwari silk fabric

India is a land of diverse cultures, ethnicities, religions, cuisine, etc., and owning to this rich diversity, every part of the country has its own cultural fashion, indigenous weaves, handlooms, and textile art forms. 

Most native textile artforms of India have been practiced for centuries, making them a glorious part of India’s heritage and cultural legacy. One such age-old handloom weave is Maheshwari silk. A celebrated weave today, Maheshwari cotton silk sarees have gone through a long journey to attain their status of being an indispensable textile craft of India.

All about Maheshwari silk fabric-


Origin of Maheshwari Silk is hidden in its name itself

Situated near the banks of river Narmada, Maheshwar, a town in Khargone, Madhya Pradesh has been known for its handloom fabrics since the 5th century.

The first Maheshwari silk saree was believed to be made in the early 1800s and as per the beliefs, it was Rani Ahilya Bai Holkar’s wish to gift something exquisite to her guests that brought this timeless weave into existence.

Being worn and admired by the royals, Maheshwari silk sarees became synonymous with luxury and the rich lifestyle of influential people. 

The process of weaving Maheshwari Silk fabrics

Traditionally, cotton was used for Maheshwari weave sarees but with technological advancements and continuous innovation, Maheshwari silk became more popular.

Today, the weavers use frame looms that are made of flexible lightweight metal rather than the fixed metal frames used in ancient times.

  • First, the yearn is untangled and dyed.
  • Through a skilled technique of warp and weft the threads are stretched and tied together tightly.
  • For the weft, a small hand-driven charkha is used to make bobbins.  
  • To warp the silk threads, a more intricate weaving process is carried out using tools and cylindrical octagon-shaped frames.
  • After the weaving, the fabric is dyed using natural colours. 
  • Embellishments like kinari, zari, gemstones, and or silver/gold threads are also used to elevate the richness of the Maheshwari silk fabrics.However, in popular culture, today, the zari or silver/gold threads have been replaced with nylon threads to make them price-friendly.

The present state of this textile craft

After India’s independence, rapid development and sudden burst of love for everything imported, led to a major decline in demand for the indigenous handlooms and crafts and Maheshwari Silk was no exception.

However, in the late 1970s, the Holkars in the region envisioned preserving and reviving this dying native craft and founded Rehwa society to realize their vision. 

Starting small, Rehwa started providing the underprivileged women with employment opportunities through this craft making and today, they have 130+ weavers creating bulk quantities of this fine fabric that has become one of the favourite fabrics amongst Indian designers.

The central and state government has also taken multiple initiatives to safeguard the traditional textile arts and crafts of India and is actively involved in promoting the weavers’ community to keep this wonderful craft alive and flourishing.

Popular varieties of Maheshwari Silk & its distinguishing features

There are five most common Maheshwari silk weave varieties that are being used across the fashion industry. Chandrakala and Baingani Chandrakala are plain weaves while the more popular ones, namely, Chandratara, Beli and Parbi can be characterized by delicate checks or stripes.

The most distinctive feature of the Maheshwari Silk saree is its pallu. Mostly, the pallu of these sarees has a mix of vivid hues that include maroon, mauve, green, magenta, and other colors. 

Maheshwari silk fabric is also known for its lightweight and that subtle glossy touch, giving it a rich and luxurious look, perfect to wear on special occasions like weddings, festivals, family functions, etc.

Maheshwari Silk suits are a brilliant fusion of traditional and modernity

While Maheshwari cotton and silk sarees are classics that every woman must have in their wardrobes, suits crafted from Maheshwari silk are also gaining popularity for their ease and all-day functionality.

In fact, we have amalgamated two traditional textile crafts, i.e., block printing and Maheshwari silk weave offering a bespoke suit collection range to modern women. 

This pink hand block printed suit set is one of the finest pieces showcasing the glorious Mughal prints on the delicately woven Maheshwari silk fabric. It is an unstitched three-piece-suit set allowing you to design it the way you want.

Whether you want a traditional silhouette or a contemporary one, this stunning set comes with a promise of giving you a graceful and charming look 

maheshwari silk suit set

Another hot selling designer Maheshwari silk suit set, this unstitched set in earthy hues features the signature Bagru block print jaal making it a timeless piece to have in your ethnic closet. 

maheshwari silk suit

Easy guide to taking care of Maheshwari Cotton Silk fabrics

Maheshwari silk fabrics are handwoven and while being easy to care for, they might need a little more attention than your regular casual wear fabrics.

  • Opt for dry-cleaning your Maheshwari silk fabrics for the first few times to retain the lustre for a longer time.
  • For Maheshwari cotton fabrics, after a few sessions of dry cleaning, you can go for gentle hand wash with very mild detergent (or it is best to use a mild liquid detergent).
  • It is best to always check and follow the wash care instructions mentioned on the purchased ensembles.
  • To retain the lustre for a long time, keep and store your Maheshwari silk suits and sarees in a mulmul cloth. 

Conclusion

Maheshwari silk fabrics definitely have that timeless charm that exudes finesse and elegance.

An ethnic wardrobe might look incomplete without a few Maheshwari saree or suits and after knowing its rich history and legacy, if you feel inspired to indulge in this ancient textile form, you can explore our range of beautiful Maheshwari silk suits available in amazing prints and vibrant colours on our website, here.