History of the Sari


Sari origins are obscure, in part because there are so few historical records in India. Yet, we know that Indians were wearing unsewn lengths of cloth draped around their bodies long before tailored cloths arrived. This elaborate body-hugging style represented in the terracotta may have evolved among India’s temple dancers in ancient times to allow their limbs freedom of movement while at the same time maintaining their standards of modesty.There are many sculptures of Graeco-Indian Gandharan civilisation which show a variety of different Sari draping styles. Tailored clothes arrived in India with the arrival of Muslims. Hindus believed that any cloth pierced by needles was impure. It is commonly believed in India that today’s petticoat or “Ghagra” and the blouse or “Choli” which are worn under the Sari are later additions which started with the arrival of the British in India. Increasing number of upper class women in the early 20th century did adopt items of European style clothing as the fitted blouse and slim petticoat. This was also adopted due to the fashion of transparent chiffon Sari’s during that particular period. Some of the wives of Indian Kings draped themselves in sari’s that were made by Parisian designers.The concept of beauty in ancient India was that of small waist and large bust and hips, as is evident in the sculptures of those times. And Sari’s seemed to be the perfect dress to flaunt those proportions as it exposes the waist of a woman and emphasises the waist and bust with the pleated fabric. Religious Deities have been shown to wear sari’s in various sculptures and paintings.