The Nilambari sari originates from Shantipur in Nadia District of West Bengal. Shantipur was a seat of Sanskrit learning and literature during the ninth century AD.
The unique selling points of this famous sari lay in the quality of dyeing and the fineness of the yarn. The finest handspun yarn with a count of 250-300 is used for weaving and results in a fine powdery texture. For the subtlety of its design and fine weaving, this sari became a byword for sophistication. Cotton and silk yarn is used as extra warp on the border. Woven with the “dorookha” technique, the sari looks the same on both sides.
Another unique feature of Shantipur saris is the finishing. While sizing the warp yarn, the weavers apply size paste (made from sago or popped rice) by hand. This process is repeated while the sari is still being woven or after the weaving is complete by fixing the sari to a frame.
The word “Nilambari” literally means “blue sky”, referring to the sari's deep navy blue hue. The pallu (edge of the sari) is decorated with stripes of varying thickness. These stripes, called “sajanshoi”, have colors that are complementary to those used on the borders. Some saris even include silver-colored starry patterns embroidered on the border, giving it the appearance of a night sky.