Aug 11 2013
There are very few fashionable garments that are as enduring as the saree. It is a true classic – virtually the same today as it was a century ago, or even five hundred years into the past. This detail from a painting shows the wives of wealthy merchants in Cambay (now Gujarat), looking a lot like the cute movie actresses with pottery jars that I’ve posted here before. It has a sweet folk-art look, and clearly shows the ladies in hand-woven sarees, contrasting cholis with elbow-length sleeves, stacked bangles and large earrings.
What’s so amazing is that this is from just over 500 years ago! The artist/explorer was Ludovico De Varthema, an Italian who was one of the earliest visitors to India to make an illustrated study of his journey along the coasts. His book, published in Rome in 1510, was also the first best-selling travelogue in history. I love the women’s faces and dainty toes, their neatly draped pallus, and the flowers that look kind of like iris.