From generations, the female antecedents time and again have taken great pride in flaunting the attainments of their craftsman by donning exquisite ghaghras or chaniyas. Commonly referred to as the chaniyo or chaniya, as charana (feet) were revealed, the ghaghra comprised of hues incorporated with tender care by the crafter. He made use of brilliant chromas that would intensify the pallor in the woman`s face and cause her to flush deeper. Also taking into account individual preferences, budgets, and attributes of the wearer, he went on to create a customized level of sophistication.
These skirts have been beautified with sub-lime pleasure by artisans as if it were architecture. The finest to the rough textiles sensuously responded to his hands and emerged forth as fine elaborations. All his senses participated with relish. The rhythmic play of all these energies around him just made his heart swim with joy and plunge into the creation of yet another beautiful skirt. Each ghaghra was a fable inscribed on cloth. The mochi bharat craftsmen incorporated motifs that narrated a story of their skill, and tradition.
For young girls, dancing figurines with one hand raised and one hand forward, were set within a cupped arch above a row of floral motifs. Each dancing motif would be depicted in long ornate skirts with a cornucopia of jewellery, with even their nose ornaments prominent in profile. Each dancer`s skirt was embroidered differently. All over the background of the skirt, the flowers would be stylized into flowering plants with a tiny cluster of five on a stem. Flowers with buds and leaves would also be set within a traditional paisley form. Peacocks were shown playing amongst the flowering plants. They would be sporty, with their tails held high and one swing held over the back in a lavish display of plumage.
In another variation, to imitate the moon and the stars in the sky, craftsmen tied and dyed the fabric. On this patterned ground, peacocks would be sprawled all over amidst clover motifs. Hemlines would be floral set between long pointed leaves with smaller leaves filling the interstices, with parallel lines in contrasting colours on either side. Elephants with rich trappings bearing a rider would render a lavish effect. Elegantly caparisoned elephants would bear a howdah with two riders, and a mahaut. Parakeets of unsparing beauty would alternate with round flowers. A woman in a colorful skirt and odhani would also be portrayed holding a parakeet upon her hand. In rare masterpieces, damsels would be depicted feeding birds of beauty. Parakeets would also be perched on various branches of a stylized tree motif.
All these motifs were given life and preci-sion with embroidery in various permutations and combinations of eye-popping tones like lively greens, fuschia, magical oranges, sunny yellows, and of course, riots of blues and reds, all seeking to steal the show. The rich would prefer these motifs woven with dexterity on the chaniyo yardage with silk yarns or zari yarns. Gold and red was a preference, in this case, as the bride`s trousseau demanded it. For weaving, the designs were stylized, with a more geometrical touch to it.
An astonishing significance for even detailing in the drawstring at the waist or the waistband has been observed. One could also play with the girth of the skirts. The girth of embroidered skirts, made from coarse cottons to sturdy silks measured anywhere from 185 cms to around 365 cms wide at the hem. Ghaghra skirts of fine muslin or fine silk enhanced with block prints or ornamental weaves had more flare, to bring out the fabric fall more delicately, the maximum being even known to be around 1200cm.
It is no wonder that these ghaghra skirts even fascinated the European women, who eventually would get one specially custom made with their own colour and motif specifications. They preferred roses, plum blossoms and butterflies in fawn, pale pink, light ochre, pale green, sky blue and echru. The artisan and dressmaker would take note of her requirements, and inculcate the European elements. The result was a recherché manifestation of Indo Chinese style embroidery on a panel, with creepers on pleats that lay on either side of the panel.
Ghaghra skirts are a must have, today for all fashionistas. Designers like Ritu Kumar, Priyadarshini Rao all have created enticing ghaghra skirts which have smitten the world. Designers exploit the bond between colour, space, and form extremely well today to resurrect the ghaghra skirt in its innumerable forms today. The fairytale of the ghaghra skirt will never perish since these fashion mascots will never get tired of proclaiming its loveliness.