Rani Sudarshana Kumari of Bushahr is an art connoisseur, digital illustrator and photographer. Belonging to the Amet royal family of Mewar in Rajasthan, she moved to Himachal Pradesh after her 2019 wedding to the scion of the erstwhile princely state of Bushahr. She is now working to preserve the craft and textile heritage of the women in the hills of Himachal Pradesh.
Here, she shares an exclusive look at the traditional saris and ensembles from her royal collection, highlighting India’s exquisite artisanal techniques and textile heritage.
By Sudarshana Kumari
Born in the culturally rich state of Rajasthan and into the family of Amet, my sense of style has always been deeply connected to the traditional manners of Mewar.
I’ve grown up seeing the women of my family wearing saris according to the season. Faaganiya is worn in the month of faag, which is Holi. Leheriya is worn in the season of saavan and bhadra, which is monsoon.
Saris being such a versatile piece of fabric, I could wear one anywhere, traditionally or for a party. Some saris from my collection are more special than others – there’s nothing like a prized possession being passed through generations.
Here are some of my favourites from my collection.
This printed chiffon sari was gifted to me by my mother. I love the pastel blue and the little red flower motifs on it. I particularly like the fabric as it is lightweight and easy to carry. Chiffon saris are usually printed, hand-dyed and embroidered in various ways like zardozi, danka, mukaish, and so on. It’s a pretty popular fabric, especially because of the hot weather in Rajasthan.
This pink chiffon sari was a part of my padla (gifts given to the bride on her wedding day by her in-laws). The shine of the sequins against the pop of neon pink makes it great for a night party.
Chanderi saris are traditionally made in the town of Chanderi, Madhya Pradesh. These saris are produced from three kinds of fabric: pure silk, Chanderi cotton and silk cotton.
I love this magenta gold Chanderi silk because of its unique colour. I found it on my last trip to Madhya Pradesh, and I couldn’t help myself from buying this from a local weaver.
The leheriya that I’m wearing above was made on custom order from a local rangrez (dyer) in Bikaner. Leheriya fabrics are colourful striped patterns, usually done on thin cotton, georgette or silk cloth. The fabric is rolled diagonally from one end to the other, tied at regular intervals and dyed. Customising leheriya saris in a colour combination of my choice makes it more unique for me.
Bandhej or bandhani is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Banda’ which means ‘to tie’. The art of bandhani involves dyeing the fabric that’s been tightly tied at several places using a thread for different patterns. This shaded pink bandhej was given to me by my maternal grandmother. It’s been dyed on chiffon by the local rangrez in Bikaner, Rajasthan.
I love how simple this Kota doriya sari is, with gold woven designs. It was given to me by my mother a few years ago. Kota doriya saris are made of pure cotton and silk. They usually have square-like patterns known as khats made on them. Silk was added to cotton in a 20:80 ratio approximately to give the sari strength. These are hand-block printed, embroidered and hand-finished in a variety of ways.
The Rajasthani poshak is the traditional dress of the women in Rajasthan. It includes, the odhana, the kurti-kanchali and the ghagra. Poshaks are worn at weddings, festivals and happy occasions.
Embroidery on the poshak varies from aari, salma, danka, sitaara, zardozi, laffa, mukaish, gota patti and many more. The work done on the poshak also ranges from light to heavy. Fabrics used for the kurti and kanchali are usually crepe, silk or tissue. The odhana is mostly made of georgette.
This ochre yellow poshak was a part of my trousseau. My mother got this made with pure silver embroidery on the patches of Chanderi fabric that’s been further stitched on the fabric of the poshak.
Rajput women in Himachal Pradesh – like myself – usually wear kurtas with either churidar or salwar as traditional wear. The dupattas and kurtas are usually heavily embroidered. The work on the dupattas range from heavy jaal to only motifs scattered over with embroidery or gota on borders. This blue salwar suit (above) was gifted to me by my in-laws during my wedding. It’s made out of silk with self-woven flower motifs.
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Photography by Sakshi Soni