The story of Baluchar in Murshidabad began two hundred years ago. The then nawab patronised it and it was popular and much in use with the nobility. While the English ignored the weave totally only much later nearly in the first half of the twentieth century that baluchari was reformed and the art was revived. The visual art of story telling was once again alive and vibrant.
The silk worms are reared for silk cultivation so that silk making becomes cost effective. Today so many sarees from Bengal are famous for their weave but they may have same motif but in a baluchari there is a distinctness which is so unique that Baluchari now has GI status it was also given a award by President Pranab Mukerjee for being a main weaving style. Any trade fair would have representation of the jamdani, kaantha and baluchari. They are the jewels of Bengal.
The saree takes to vibrant colors well. It is a dyers delight. Silk is absorbent of colors. Baluchari Silk has had a make over. It is now worked on jacquard loom and a saree is completed in six to seven days. The baluchari saree has always attracted the higher classes as the saree is very expensive. The saree depicted scenes from a temple or women smoking a hookah, or the nawab of Bengal or stories from the Mahabharta
The saree has been a status symbol for so long that no even thinks why is it called so? What is so special about it? May be because only the aristocrat wore it so they became special. Whatever the reason, we cannot and should not deny its privilege. The possession by itself was worthy of high status. Though the saree is sometimes just worked with two thread, maybe three or four and sometimes with gold and other times with gold and silver and it is called swarnchari. So the saree has its prices according to the thread used and the quantity of the work. That is, how much artistry is visible.
Why are we willing to pay for a swarnchari because we respect our past and desire to keep a piece of it for ourself. If you don’t buy it, you may have inherited it. So it goes to say, that in our hearts we do love our past and hope to make our future better by learning from the past. Sarees and their stories are so livid with all masala, that it is the best way to be educated and not fall in the eyes of man.
Self pride makes us do things we did not want to do in the first place. Baluchari saree had a chance to change -to modernity. To a better workmanship and designs and more important time efficiency. A baluchari saree can be made in a shorter time and vigil is kept on the dyeing, reeling, weaving and polishing as each saree is polished after it has been made. The baluchari silk saree is certainly a beautiful token from the past.