The gharchola is the traditional Hindu and Jain wedding sari. The numbers of squares in it is ritually important – the number of squares are multiples of nine, 12, or 52. It used to be made of cotton but now silk is predominantly used.
The gharchola is essentially a bandhani sari. The technique of tie-dyeing cloth so that many small resist dyed spots produce elaborate patterns over the fabric is known as bandhini (bandhej) in the western Indian state of Gujarat.
HISTORY & TRADITION
The bandhani technique is ‘believed to have existed in India since at least the late fifth century AD… but many of today’s western Indian [craftspeople] trace their ancestry back only two or three hundred years, to Pakistan’s Sind and Punjab.
|Bandhanis are of various kinds:
According to Lynton: The ‘ghar’ is gharchola can be directly translated as ‘house’; however, it also connotes ‘birthplace’ and/or ‘family’, suggesting perhaps that the sari is from the home or birthplace of the brde (Lynton: p. 191).
COLOURS, TECHNIQUES, MOTIFS
The gharchola is a ‘single-colour saris…with white spots’. It is often red, though it can also be green. The network of squares is created by rows of white tie-dyed spots or rows of zari. Single motifs are created within each square – parrots, elephants, dancing girls, flowers – symbols of fertility, prosperity and joy. Sometimes zari is woven in, in discontinuous supplementary-weft patterning.
The making of the gharchola is a complicated and time-consuming process. A starched silk odhini or sari is fixed to a large wooden frame using nails. The sari/odhini, coloured red or green, is divided into a network of squares by rows of white tie-dyed spots or woven bands of zari. Motifs are then created within each compartment.