Paithani is a variety of sari, manufactured in the Paithan region of Maharashtra. Paithani saris are handmade, from the finest quality of silk, and are considered to be one of the richest saris in the state.

The Paithani saree is known the world over for its uniqueness. It is one of the most beautiful sarees in the world. Beautifully crafted, with an exquisite zari border, this saree is truly a poem in silk. The Paithani saree is chosen by brides to wear on their special day, especially in Gujarati and Maharashtrian families.



The art of weaving Paithani flourished in 200B.C., during Satvahana era. It is mentioned in the fourteenth Edict of Asoka and was the capital of eminent Andhra King in the first century A.D. During the first two decades the last century the weavers worked with threads of pure gold and silver, drawing their inspiration for color and design solely from the frescoes of Ajanta practiced exclusively by a certain section of the people of paithan for the past 600 years.

Also, the Rig Veda mentions a golden woven fabric and the Greek records talk of gorgeous Paithani fabrics from the great ancient trading and industrial centres, Pratishan or Paithan in Maharashtra. In old times, the zari used in making Paithanis was drawn from pure gold. But today silver is substituted for gold thus making the Paithanis more affordable to many people.

Even the Peshwas in the 18th century had a special love for paithani textiles and it is believed that Madhavrao Peshwa even asked for the supply of asavali dupattas in red, green, saffron, pomegranate and pink colours.

Described in early literature as Maharashtra, “the great fabric, a cloth is being woven since thousands of years from a very ancient and popular city known as Supratishthapuram, a silken cloth brocaded with golden threads, is what we call today the Paithani. The city is today known as paithan, giving fabric its modern name.

The fabric woven in traditional ways even after many centuries, is renowned as “the great fabric” not only for Maharashtra but also from India. Even in today’s advanced world the methods of weaving Paithani have not changed at all, the reason why its not lessened by a whisker. Woven with extremely dedicate silk threaded sticks, the Paithani is one fabric, which cannot be matched by any other cloth today that is why it is enchanting legacy from Maharashtra and fabric of beautifully women.


Since the Patithan region is quite close to the Ajanta caves, one can find the influence of the Buddhist paintings in the motifs used on the Paithani sarees. For the body of the sari, some very common motifs are Kamal or lotus flower, Hans, Ashraffi, Asawalli (flowering vines), Bangadi Mor (peacock), Tota-Maina (male & female parrot), Humarparinda (peasant bird), Amar Vell and Narali. One can also see motifs like Circles, Stars, Kuyri, Kalas Pakhhli, Chandrakor, Leaves Cluster, etc.

For the pallu, the common motifs are Muniya (a kind of parrot), Panja (geometrical flower-like motif), Barwa (12 strands of a ladder), Laher, Muthada (geometrical design), Asawali (flower pot) and Mor. The colors usually used for making a Pathani saree are yellow, red, lavender, purple, sky blue, magenta, peach pink, purple, pearl pink, peacock blue/green, yellowish green, violet red, black and white, black and red, red and green, etc.


There are different types of Paithani saris, classified on the basis of three criteria – motif, weaving and color.

Classification by Motif

• Bangadi Mor (Peacock in a bangle or in a bangle shape, woven in pallu)

• Munia brocade (Parrots woven on the pallu as well as in border)

• Lotus brocade (Lotus motifs used in pallu and maybe border)

Classification by Weaving

• Kadiyal border sari (Warp and weft of the border are of the same color, body has different colors for warp and weft)

• Kad/Ekdhoti (Single shuttle used for weaving of weft and colors of warp yarn different from that of weft yarn)

Classification by Color

• Kalichandrakala (Black sari with red border)

• Raghu (Parrot green sari)

• Shirodak (Pure white sari)


The Paithani sarees, are made of silk in rich, vivid colours with gold embroidery. In the modern Paithani sarees, silver threads coated with gold are used instead of pure gold threads.


Making a saree is a long process; it takes a long time completing a piece. And it also needs lots of hard work and expertise to make this fine fabric. A heavily brocaded Paithani sari will take anywhere from six months to one and a half years to get fully ready. Infact, even a plain and simple sari takes atleast one month for being completed. Before weaving the sari the raw silk is cleaned with caustic soda. Then it is dyed into the different colours as required. Sik threads are then separated by the women and then they are ready to be woven.

The whole process of making Paithani sarees involve following steps:


• The kali/vakhar is brought from Bangalore which is a bundle of silk threads ultimately known as one thok.

• The raw material is dipped in hot water and diluted in khar (salt), for about 15 mins.

• The material is then squeezed by putting a rod in between the kali to remove the excess of impurities and again dipped in cold water for about 2-3 times.

• The dye bath is prepared in which the proportion varies according to the hues and shapes

• The kali is dipped in the dye bath, removed, and dried completely. This is repeated 2 to 3 times.

• It is then washed in cold water to make it much smoother and lustrous.

• After the dyeing process is completed, the silk threads are wounded upon the Asari with a very smooth touch which is done by the women. A Rahat was also used for wounding but since it was very much time consuming. They started using the machines made up of the cycle wheel which is less time consuming.

• From the asari, the silk threads are transferred on a kandi.

• The silk threads are finally set onto the loom. <.li>


It took approximately 1 day to set the silk threads on the loom. “Tansal” is used to put the “wagi”. The “pavda” works like the paddle to speed up the weaving. The “jhatka” is used to push the “kandi” from one side to the other. “Pushthe” is used in designing the border of Paithani in which it is punched according to design application. “Pagey” are tied to the loom. The threads are then passed through “fani”.

There are two types of motion:

Primary motions:

• Shedding -dividing the warp sheet or shed into two layers, one above the other for the passage of shuttle with the weft threads.

• Picking -passing a pick of weft from one selvedge of a cloth through the warp threads.

• Beating -dividing the last pick through the fell of cloth with the help of slay fixed on the reel.

Secondary motions:

• Take up motion -taking up the cloth when being woven and winding it on the roller.

• Let off motion -letting the warp wound on a warp beam, when the cloth is taken up on the cloth roller beam. Taking up and letting off the warp are done simultaneously.


Paithani saris are silks in which there is no extra weft forming figures. The figuring weave was obtained by a plain tapestry technique. There are three techniques of weaving;

• Split tapestry weave -The simplest weave where two weft threads are woven up to adjacent warp threads and then reversed. The warp threads are then cut and retied to a different colour.

• Interlocking method -two wefts are interlocked with each other where the colour change is required. The figuring weft is made of a number of coloured threads, weaving plain with warp threads and interlocked on either side with the grounds weft threads are invariably gold threads which interlock with the figure weft threads, thus forming the figure. This system of interlocking weaves, known as kadiyal, is done so that there are no extra floats on the back of the motif thus making the design nearly reversible.

• Dobe-tailing method -two threads go around the same warp, one above the other, creating a dobe-tailing or tooth-comb effect.

Weaving could take between 18 to 24 months, depending upon the complexity of the design. Today there are many weavers who are working for the revival of this treasured weave.


The speciality of the paithani is its border and pallav. Earlier just 2-3 colours were popular which were integrated in the sari in the dhup chaon pattern which, when translated, means light and shade. The paithani sari is an entirely handwoven item. Depending on the intricacy of the design, it takes anything from one month to a year to weave. The traditional paithani used to be a plain sari with a heavy zari border and ornamental pallav. “But today paithanis with motifs are in vogue: stars, circles, peacocks, flowers and paisleys. The paithani borders and pallavs are heavily adorned with these motifs and the sari is given the name after the design on it. Tota-maina (parrot), bangdi-mor (peacock with round design), asavali (flower and vine), narli (coconut), are all descriptive.