Kota-the city that inspired the name of one of the most popular traditional attires of India. It is a city that has been home to a unique form of Saree-the official traditional attire of Indian women since the end of the 17th century, namely Kota Sarees. This genre of drapery is considered to one of the simplest, lightest yet elegant form of Sarees that are designed across India. It is in tune with the weather and preferences of the women of Rajasthan and is preferred as a regular wear by many women in different parts of the country.
Comfort and simplicity is what make Kota Sarees stand out among the several kinds of traditional and modern Sarees that are developed in hand looms all over India. It is more commonly referred to as Kota-Masuria or Kota Doria by the local people of the city. In case of Kota Doria, the term ‘Doria’ means thread, while the name Kota-Masuria is a corruption of the original name of the Saree, which brings us to the origin of these Sarees.
Origin and History of Kota Sarees
Kota Sarees were originally known as Masuria which as it belonged to the city of Mysore. This hand crafted Saree was developed during the reign of the Mughals and were also shifted to Kota from Mysore by one of the generals of the Mughal army, known as Rao Kishore Singh. This design had been into existence prior to the 17th century but became a part of Kaithoon which is a small town in the district of Kota during this century and finally came to be known as Kota-Masuria.
The Kota Sarees are woven in a very simple manner and it derives its texture and design directly from the loom. Local women weave it in a traditional pit loom which provides the Saree with a special chequered pattern. The loom it is woven in is also quite special as it had evolved from the traditional Ground loom which was quite uncomfortable for weavers to operate as it required them to bend over pursue their task. But the pit loom was placed over a pit at parallel level for the weaver to sit comfortably and operate the loom. All these Sarees are completely hand-woven and are available in different types of fabrics.
Types of Kota Sarees
Although originally it was designed on simple cotton fabric, it later on came to be printed on Silk and with golden threads, known as Zari. The silk and the Zari Kota Sarees were much more extravagant and heavy compared to their cotton counterpart, yet the pattern was clean and simple. This inspired three different types of Kota Sarees, namely
- Kota-Doria-The one made with cotton fabric with square-check pattern on it
- Kota Silk-The one crafted with Pure Silk fabric with chequered pattern on it
- Zari Kota-Last, but not the least, the one which has chequered pattern woven with golden threads and printed on mainly silk fabric
More expensive fabric means a more expensive Kota Saree. This industry in Kota provides work and shelter to huge population of the city. This is one of the most profitable industries of this site apart from tourism. It is also one of those rare and still intact local handicraft or cottage industry that is doing really well and has a bright future. Technology or modern equipments have not yet been able to take over this industry as the hand loom is the only way to achieve this pattern, till now. Ironically, the simplicity of this pattern and type of Saree is what makes it complicated for the machines.