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How to Identify a Pure Handloom Saree

How to Identify a Pure Handloom Saree

Indian handloom textiles and handcrafted garments have witnessed a spurt in demand in recent years, and like all things that witness growing demand in the consumer market, these too have started facing competition from e-commerce sites and retailers who deal in the sales of cheaper lookalike products. Such an act of cheating the customers has not only harmed the reputation and authenticity of Bengal traditional sarees but has become something of a black spot on the labor-intensive handloom industry as a whole.

The worst part of it all is that most of the retailers have sought to exploit the value of the “handmade/handloom” label by unceremoniously hiking up the price of their products even when they are cheap alternatives. Keeping this spurious and dark side of the textile industry in mind, we present to you this guide that helps identify the originality of handmade products so that you can steer clear of the low-quality, machine-made imitation goods.

Know How to Identify Your Authentic Bengal Handloom Saree

Authenticity Is Color-Coded

A large number of the handwoven fabrics are available in natural dye selections while some of them simply come with the label of being “naturally dyed”. So how does one go about making a distinction between what is naturally dyed and what is a synthetic fabric? Of course, a trained eye and good awareness on the matter will be the most important and decisive factors here. Beginners will definitely find this to be a challenging matter but there are always useful tips that refer for help: combinations of natural dye have a better harmony about them and are also more pleasing to the eye while with synthetic dyes you get a more garish and harsh appearance. Natural dyes, unlike their synthetic counterparts, are rarely available as pure forms owing to the mix of impurity in their composition. For example, you seldom get a pure red that can have a pleasant and muted appearance. Last but not least, natural dyes are far more long-lasting than the chemical dyes.

Spotlight on The Embroidery

Traditional forms of embroidery often seen in traditional handloom sarees such as jamdani saree are being widely imitated with the market now full of cheaper, machine-made replicas. If you happen to come across a Chikankari in the shop, it won’t be an easy task to determine whether it is authentic at one go. Nevertheless, these counterfeits are no match when put against the intricate designs of hand embroidery that the master artisans create, having struggled to keep the art alive and running for many a generation.

A close look at the patterns and stitches will help you identify whether the embroidery is handmade or machine-made. To cite an example, only the high-quality, handmade Chikankari design makes use of techniques such as crisscross embroidery and shadow stitches. In case you observe any kind of uneven stitching, thicker fabric, or looser threads, you can question the possibility of a machine use.

Pallu Does a Lot of Talking

If you are out shopping for a handwoven shantipuri saree or jamdani saree simply take hold of the Pallu and look on the reverse side. Bengal traditional sarees that are indeed handwoven will have the backside of the Pallu as an exact replica of the design that is carried on the front. In case of a machine-made imitation, there will be a large number of loose-hanging threads and the reverse will be anything but a replica of the front. Also take note of the sharpness and intricacy of the design in question. If it is a machine-made product, you will be let down on both these counts.

Don’t Let The Spurious Lookalikes Ruin Your Wardrobe

Perfection may be a good thing but perfection in every occasion does not make for a good thing. While purchasing a block-printed saree, do a careful study of the block patterns. An original hand-block print will always have some number of flaws in the blocking patterns simply because they have been done by hand where there is always scope for error. You are also likely to come across small drops of extra color at certain spots. Consistency in color and pattern is one of the highlights of a machine-made block print garment.

Truth Lies In the Patterns

Authentic handloom products have intricate and traditional Persian patterns for decoration. In case of machine-made weaves such traditional patterns are largely absent while the level of detailing existing on handloom products are also hard to come by.


Now that you have a better idea of how to identify between authentic handloom and a dubious powerloom product we hope that you will make the right decision while making your next purchase. If you wish to buy online, choose a reputed store that deals in authentic handloom and handwoven products, and help the thousands of hardworking artisans get their due for producing such magnificent pieces of traditional garments.

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