Lightweight, translucent and woven using cotton yarn, Begampur saris derive their name from the town in the Hooghly district of West Bengal where they are made. The tradition of weaving cotton saris in the region can be traced as far back as the fourteenth century. They are traditionally characterised by broad borders, known as mathaapaars, that contrast with the sari’s main body and its few motifs.
The sari follows the cotton-weaving tradition of West Bengal, in combinations of white, black, red, orange, blue and purple, with the most common variant being laal paar, featuring a red border with the main body woven out of undyed, unbleached cotton. Common motifs on the sari include birds, animals and plants. Other variations may also have geometrical designs and borders with serrated patterns woven using extra weft threads, with various butas on the pallu.
In 2010, the Weavers’ Service Centre, Kolkata, led an initiative to revive Begampur saris, focusing on design development and improving weaving and printing techniques, such as through the introduction of power looms. Today, the saris feature stripes along with motifs of animals and plants on the borders and pallu — a change that has led to increased demand in the Indian market.
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