Notes on Culture & Antique Art, Ethnic Decor & Vintage Fashion | Wovensouls Art Gallery

The Bridal Sari of the erstwhile Queen of Sawantwadi 1922

I’ve seen a dozen or so amazing  antique zari  saris but none has been as unusual as this one seen in the museum of Sawantwadi,

This shalu – a zari woven wedding sari that is 9 yards long – is from the trousseasu of the erstwhile (and last) queen of Sawantwadi.

As in all saris, it is the end that hangs from the shoulder that receives the most attention – from the maker, the wearer and the beholder.

This pallu is completely filled with a geometric motifs woven in thread with precious metal content  or  “real” zari.

But the ‘never-have-I-ever-seen” feature here is the overlay of paintings on the zari.

There are 5 superbly handpainted portraits that are so good they look like prints!


How this was done… which artist did this – whose idea was it …. all these facts are lost in time. But the stunning product of their creativity remains!

A few photos taken with a phone camera under poor lighting conditions (as is the case in all textile exhibits all over the world)…. but am grateful they allowed photography!





This unknown museum has only a handful of old items – and the premises are not fancily maintained.

But it has this ONE treasure, and that makes it a terrific museum in my opinion.

The building, the lighting, the curators, the rest of the taam-jhaam (as we say in Hindi) are all good to have – but in the end it is the object that makes the museum!

This will probably be my last exciting textile seen in 2017!

Seen in a small town Sawantwadi just outside Goa!


Dec 2017

Museum walk presented by

jaina mishra | wovensouls

View more Exquisite Antique Textiles and more on


A note from one of the readers who happened to be the conservator of this sari!!!

(how lucky we are to receive the gift of this connection!)

“Thank you Jaina Mishra, ANTIQUE INDIAN TEXTILES for sharing display information of this Saree. It reminded me how difficult it was working on this magnificent work of art in 2010, recreating images using conservation stitches took three months of hard work. It was featured in economic times as well in 2011. Rajamata Shubhangini Raje Gaekwad of Vadodara had taken an initiative to conserve this saree.
#textileheritageconservation #textilepreservation


6 comments on “The Bridal Sari of the erstwhile Queen of Sawantwadi 1922

  1. Leonie Andrews
    December 27, 2017

    Truly amazing work!

  2. Mundhavni Cheema
    December 27, 2017

    Hello Ma’am, I recently came across your blog and admire your effort at bringing the lost craft to light. I wanted to work on Phulkari Embroidery and am looking for your permission to use your Phulkari Images and some of the reflecting text. Its my small initiative to advocate about the lost craft.

    I would be very grateful to you if you would please let me use some of your valuable information!! Thanks, Mundhavni Cheema

    On Tue, Dec 26, 2017 at 10:48 PM, The Art Blog by WOVENSOULS.COM wrote:

    > wovensouls posted: “I’ve seen a dozen or so amazing antique zari saris > but none has been as unusual as this one seen in the museum of Sawantwadi, > This shalu – a zari woven wedding sari that is 9 yards long – is from the > trousseasu of the erstwhile (and last) queen of Sawa” >

  3. wovensouls
    January 5, 2018

    Write to me on my email please

  4. SUNIL Baboo
    February 4, 2018

    Chanced to read your blog!

    This article on the bridal Sarees is so enlightening.

    Am a collector of India centric Colonial Documents, Maps, Rare Books and Aquatints.

    My blog is:

  5. wovensouls
    February 4, 2018

    Welcome to wovensouls Sunil Baboo

  6. Rashmani
    February 6, 2018

    Wow !

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