sarees tell stories

totally fair

a saree has never heard of size zero. actually a saree doesn’t care too much about size at all. short, tall, thin, small, fat, squat, what, not… a saree is happy to drape you; no discrimination, no snigger at the inches, no unseemly joy at chancing upon a slim waist. before the saree, all are equal.

my boss once told me, he is singaporean chinese, that he thought the saree was the most creative “dress” ever. just a length of fabric, not a single cut or stitch, inviting you to do what you liked with it, wear it any way you want. he was right, i had never thought of this, of course. read somewhere there are 107 ways of draping these six yards (there’s also the nine-yard one which i have never worn nor owned).

assam 2 800

both my grandmothers wore their saree the “bengali” way at home. it was fun to watch them tuck the border at the waist deftly, on the right, the left, then right again, without bothering with the usual pleats in front. and yes, they did tie their bunch of keys to the corner of the pallu and throw it over the shoulder, just like they show in the movies and awful television serials.

the two sarees here are both assam silks. you don’t hear much about these, but assam makes some really great silk. there’s the rare and gorgeous golden muga, there’s eri, and then there’s this white mulberry silk called pat. the pureness and sheen of the white and the creaminess of the tassam 800exture are delightful. the fall is dreamy.

bought the one with red, green, and black motifs almost thirty years ago, from assam bhavan on russel street in Kolakta. my first assam silk, part of my wedding trousseau. the silk is smooth and fine, the design has a tribal feel; there are several tribes in assam with their own range of wonderful motifs and colours and weaves. this craft is dear to the assamese people and traditionally all girls learned to weave, one of those accomplishments that a ma in law looked for in a good daughter in law. i remember seeing looms at the homes of at least three families in duliajan, the unusual and lovely company township in assam i grew up in.

the other one with the golden butis was chosen recently by a dear friend of mine who moved to guwahati. it’s really pretty and elegant. between the two, a span of almost 28 years. a lot has changed in that time, and yet like the whiteness of the silk that is almost unchanged, are some things in life too i guess.

most importantly, the saree that used to fit me when i got married fits me even now.

i’d like to thank my two models for suffering my lunacy without too much protest. i thought they both looked rather pretty.


sarees tell stories | two white assam silks bought in 1985 and 2013, from kolkata and guwahati.

smiles 800

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  • rhea sinha
    April 9, 2015 at 9:26 am

    I never thought about that you know.. that a saree is after all simply a piece of cloth and will fit forever.. sometimes an outsiders perspective is fresh.. From very very young age i would wrap my mothers/grandmothers saree/dupatta and model around.. have always loved it.. am glad you are writing about sarees.. simple and straight from the heart.. I love reading these..

    • indrani robbins
      April 9, 2015 at 1:02 pm

      thanks, rhea… yeah when he said that about it being creative, i was huh! but it really is… such an easy thing to have fun with and in clothes fun has almost disappeared… rules and only rules… a french woman, beautiful tall slim trendy, told me i was lucky i didn’t have to give in to colour and other fashion trends that dominate in her world… restricting and smothering the creative thing when dressing up.

  • DurgaS
    April 18, 2015 at 8:24 pm

    Interesting Indi. A tale of two sarees, one new, one old. But one can’t make out which is which until you point it out. Beautiful. Should get an Assam silk. Lovely models, how cute. 🙂

    • indrani robbins
      April 18, 2015 at 8:41 pm

      hi durga, thanks for reading this… yes, please get an assam silk. they are lovely. especially the white ones… the silk quality is really soft and sheeny… i am trying to take a trip into something, not yet sure what, through my sarees… let’s see where i reach.