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The Saree and a Short History of Indian Textiles



The Saree and a Short History of Indian Textiles
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 9 to 11
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   9.66

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    factory-made, kurtas, Nivi, pallav, pallu, saree, underskirt, unstitched, unchallenged, domination, bloodless, subcontinent, khadi, kurta, sovereignty, trend
     content words:    In India, British East India Company, Industrial Revolution, Great Britain, Mahatma Gandhi


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The Saree and a Short History of Indian Textiles
By Vickie Chao
  

1     Back in the old days, people of different cultures wore traditional clothes every day. For men, outfits were usually variations of shirts and pants. For women, dress was much more assorted and diverse. Today, however, things are no longer so. Nowadays, people of different cultures tend to get clothes off the racks of department stores and shopping malls. They cram those factory-made clothes into their wardrobes and only wear traditional garments on special occasions. Thankfully, the trend is not prevalent everywhere. In India, women still wear the saree (also spelled as sari) every day as their ancestors did for thousands of years. The dresses' styles and designs are so popular that clothing designers worldwide often incorporate them into their own works of art.
 
2     Technically speaking, a saree is merely a long piece of unstitched fabric worn over a blouse and a petticoat (underskirt). It has neither sleeves nor trousers. There are different styles of the traditional garment. Among the numerous choices, the "Nivi" is by far the most popular. For this particular form, the woman would first wrap the saree around her waist and tuck one end of it into the top of her petticoat. She then would drape the loose end (called the pallu or pallav) diagonally across her front and let it drop over her shoulder. The long end that hangs freely from the back of her shoulder is often adorned with intricate designs and beautiful ornaments.
 
3     Though the saree debuted at the beginning of India's first civilization about 4,500 years ago, its origin is still murky today. Due to the lack of written records, we do not know how ancient Indians came to make clothing out of a fabric ranging from 5 to 9 yards. We do know, however, that their specialty in weaving cloth with sophisticated patterns and vibrant colors has long captivated people.

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