Made using baun, a handloom fabric from Uttar Pradesh, these sarees are woven in the state’s southwestern districts of Lalitpur, Jhansi and Jalaun. It is closely related to motia, a weaving tradition practised in the rest of the state. Baun sarees are woven using coarse cotton — typically dyed blood red (khooni), parrot green (totiya), dark green (gehra hara), indigo (neela) or brown (katthi) — mixed with either zari or coloured threads for extra-warp patterning in the border and body.
Sarees of finer quality contain gold and silver thread for extra warp patterning, while those of kasbi or chadhiyaon variety used for daily wear, use coloured cotton yarn of orange, magenta and white (replacing the zari) as the extra warp for border patterning and stripes in the body. A third variety, worn only for weddings, is the churia in which the extra-weft patterns are woven with pattu, or silk floss. The baun saree although of the same dimensions as a traditional saree, is worn differently — draped as a skirt with a foldover along one side of their width, through which a drawstring is then passed. They have traditionally been worn with a jhabla made of gara and a printed head-drape known as kalmi.
After the 1970s, weavers who were producing baun either abandoned the profession or took up the production of the more commercially successful Chanderi sarees, which have received a geographical indication (GI) tag. Today, a small number of contemporary designers, such as Varun Narkar, are adopting the style of weaving found in baun sarees in an effort to preserve and revitalise the dying craft.
Chishti, Rta Kapur. 2010. Saris: Tradition and Beyond. Eds. Martand Singh. New Delhi: Lustre Press.