Apr 17 2011
Two Tamil ladies exhibit unexpected panache in this high-quality postcard photograph. Both wear drapes with the pallu wrapped over the shoulder and around the waist, but it’s the two distinctly individual fabrics that make me love this image! The standing model neatly displays a smooth, straight and shorter cotton saree with body and attitude. Seated, the other shows a crinkled, sheer check that spreads voluminously. We can almost “feel” these materials, enjoying a virtual tactile experience from many decades ago.
Happily, very similar sarees are still loomed by hand across India, not just in the southern states. From airy and delicate to tightly polished, such expressive textiles show up on modern women, even film actresses, once in a while. Today’s fashion and home goods designers also add vintage elements to clothing and accessories by cutting up new cotton sarees for constructed garments and pillows. And in case you wondered, the traditional cottons outnumber everything else in my personal saree collection about six-to-one!