The traditional Paithani sari is crafted on a handloom with pure silk yarns and dyed in traditional colors. The silk yarns are sourced from Bangalore or Mysore and the zari threads are sourced from Gujarat. The preparation of silk and zari, dyeing and weaving, are all carried out in the town of Paithan, Maharashtra.
Paithani uses the ancient technique of tapestry where multiple threads of different colors along with gold and silver are woven together to form a fascinating piece of silk. In ancient times, the Romans imported this gold-woven fabric in exchange for gold of equal weight.
A true Paithani sari is characterized by the borders with an oblique and square design having a pallu (edge) with a peacock. They are available in a kaleidoscope of colors and this effect is achieved by varying the weave. A particular color is used for weaving lengthwise while another is used widthwise. The design woven on the border separates it from all other saris.
The Paithani craftsmen transfer their knowledge from generation to generation. A master weaver has apprentices from his family and total devotion to the craft is necessary as the tools of the trade are considered as a manifestation of the divine.
As Paithani is a luxurious weave, the handicraft depends upon occasions like weddings and other ceremonies to showcase it. It is exclusively worn by the womenfolk on special occasions. Bridal Paithani saris are often embroidered and the craft of embroidery on these saris is associated with great pride and prestige in India.