Baluchari sarees has always been one of the timeless classics. It has traveled a long way from its place of origin, Baluchar in Murshidabad, to the wardrobe of every fashion-conscious woman. It has a history that makes you want to enroll in history classes. It tells a tale that makes you wonder how can a piece of clothing carry so much wonder.
The royal patronage of Mughal emperors really did work wonders on the weaving industry of Bengal. The journey of Baluchari started in the 18th century when Murshid Quli Khan initiated the introduction of rural artistry from Bangladesh to Baluchar village in Murshidabad. The term “Baluchar” itself means sandy river bank here, referring to the village on the banks of the Bhagirathi river. But, with the dominance of British colonial rule, the weaving communities experienced setbacks during the making of Baluchari.
Following a flood in Balchar, they relocated to Bishnupur. This became the place from where Baluchari experienced a rebirth. Its renaissance would not have been possible without the efforts of Akshay Kumar Das and Subho Thakur. The financial support from members of Silk Khadi Seva Mondal of Bishnupur, Hanuman Das, and Bhagaban Das played an indispensable role in reviving the art.
The artisans used intricate skills and laborious hours to produce one Baluchari saree. Only silk threads were used initially. But, nowadays, weavers also use cotton. The basic process has remained the same even today. However, the patterns of motifs and design have changed over time. Initially, artisans used to weave only depictions of the lives of the Mughal people for designing Baluchari sarees. But later, tales of Mahabharata, Ramayana, or any ancient event have found their place in Balcuchari.
The allure of Baluchari sarees has given it a cult status. During its initial period of making, only women from aristocratic or Zamindar families used to wear Baluchari. But, with time, it became more widespread. Women do admire the intricacies of Balcuhari sarees. But, draping a saree, no matter how creatively it is made, consumes time.
They want the gorgeous vibe of Baluchari but in a subtle and comfortable way. It necessitates the collaboration of fashion designers and weavers to aid in wearing Baluchari innovatively. This is evident from the experience of fashion designer Agnimitra Paul. One of her clients wanted something modern yet graceful with traditional touches. Paul designed a Baluchari gown which amazed her client. It reflects how modern women seek the grace of Baluchari sans its extravagance.
Converting this traditional saree into more easily wearable pieces like skirts, jackets or gowns may increase its popularity among the experimentative young generation. However, many still prefer Baluchari as the go-to option during festivals and weddings. Its intricate design and gorgeous color make it a perfect match for a festive or celebratory mood.
These indeed have eye-catching colors. Its colors with a silky sheen do make you stand out in a crowd. However, it would be underestimated if we point out only the gorgeous colors, that most sarees seem to have. So, what makes it so special? The intricate designs of Baluchari are enough to catch attention even if you give it dull or lighter shades.
Interestingly, it seems to be the only saree type with many mythological tales intricately woven. Weavers spent hours weaving tales of Ramayana, Mahabharata, and ancient events on the saree. Every piece contains an interesting story. Apart from mythological designs, it shows the life events of Mughal and European royals.
On observing its pallu region, you will find women in the vintage getup, Nawabs in chariots, and war scenarios. These detailings give Baluchari a royal and alluring look.
Besides, the border and the body contains motif aligned with the design of the pallu. The body contains motifs adorned with embroidery or zari work. Its border carries ornamental patterns that accentuate the look of the whole saree. However, not all Baluchari seems to have intricately woven tales. Some varieties contain comparatively simple ornamental or geometric designs.
You can easily make a fashion statement using Baluchari. Its bright and cheerful colors combined with detailed designs call for minimum accessories to complete any festive look. For creating such looks, you can gift yourself a Baluchari (or more if your heart agrees) from Ashmi’s Creations.
The popular opinion is to team up ornate jewelry with the saree. People mostly prefer creating a vintage or traditional look with Baluchari. Traditional jewelry seems to go best with this. You can also opt for a simple yet stylish appearance by ditching heavy neck pieces. But, you may choose to create your own look.
However, to carve out your signature or preferred getup, you need to research. You can explore the colors of Baluchari that complement your skin tone. If you have a higher budget, you may opt for designer pieces of Baluchari shawls, or jackets and pair them up with a modest-looking saree. If you are thrifty and experimental, you can reuse old Baluchari sarees and make them into pieces that have more wearability, like kurti or salwar kameez.
Baluchari seems to have a rich and interesting history spanning generations. It has carried tales of rulers, weavers, and love for keeping the art alive. Women of today prefer the oozing glamour of Baluchari sarees. But, the toils of draping a gorgeous saree may cause reluctance to select this as the attire of choice. If represented in a modern wearable way, it may gain more popularity.
However, Baluchari sarees still remain the choice of wear during festivals and celebrations. The intricate designs make it eye-catching. The pallu, borders, and the body have distinct patterns. Weavers spent hours putting intricate designs depicting ancient tales in the pallu region. Baluchari saree works best for creating a traditional look. You can pair it up with traditional jewelry or accessories of your choice. However, you can keep your options open by being experimental.