Handloom dupattas & stoles from Bengal
Posted on June 01 2019
Traditionally, a dupatta used to be paired with a kurta, salwar kameez or ghagra choli and was worn as a symbol of modestly. It was usually simple in design and was only an accessory to the main garment it was paired with. Over time, the dupatta has evolved to be more elaborately designed and can even take up the central role in an ensemble. In fact, it is not uncommon today to see young women draping attractive dupattas over shirts or t-shirts for an Indo-western look, and to jazz up their formal or semi-formal outfits. A stole is a smaller dupatta that can also be used as a scarf around the neck.
Just as with sarees, most centers of handloom weaving in India also produce dupattas and stoles, reflecting their traditional weaving patterns and motifs. Silk and cotton dupattas in a variety of colours and textures, with woven, painted, printed or embroidered patterns form a delightful addition to a woman’s wardrobe.
Kantha is a form of embroidery that is done by hand, by rural craftswomen in the Bolpur region of West Bengal. These women usually don't have much formal training, learn the art at home and pass it down through the generations. Along with sarees, they also embroider kurtas, dupattas, dress material and home furnishings. As with sarees, dupattas with kantha embroidery are usually made of pure silk, tussar silk or cotton.
Tussar silk dupattas with Kantha embroidery: Tussar silk dupattas come in natural shades such as beige, cream, honey and tawny. They are embroidered with colourful threads with patterns ranging from simple and elegant, to gorgeous and ornate. Floral motifs in rich, vibrant colours form a lovely contrast against the natural, beige tussar fabric, and highlight the intricacies in the embroidered work. Sometimes, the fabric is dyed to take up brighter colours. A combination of kantha work with tie and dye patterns can also be found on these dupattas.
Pure silk dupattas with Kantha embroidery: Soft, mulberry silk fabric in a variety of colours is used to make these dupattas. Bangalore silk, which is light-weight, yet strong, is often used. Floral and leaf motifs and other patterns inspired from nature form the themes of these kantha designs.
Baluchari Silk Dupattas
Baluchari silk refers to a rich silk fabric that is woven in the Bishnupur region of West Bengal. These plush silks are woven with gorgeous patterns featuring tales and scenes from ancient Indian epics and religious texts. Sarees made from this silk are famous for the grand and exquisite baluchari patterns that adorn their borders and pallav.
More recently, another product woven using this silk is the baluchari dupatta. Baluchari dupattas are characterized by a rich, plain, coloured body with intricate patterns woven in rows along the borders of the dupattas. Small motifs are scattered across the body. The patterns are woven using resham or zari threads to form an attractive contrast against the plain silk body. They feature minutely detailed scenes from the stories in epics such as the Mahabharata and Ramayana. The dashing colours, plush fabric and gorgeous weavings define the beauty of these dupattas. They are very light-weight and can be draped over plain silk kurtas and kurtis to form a trendy and exotic ethnic attire. They can also be wrapped around the neck like a scarf over Western outfits.