Published By: Nirtika Pandita

All you need to know about the ParsiGaraSarees

An intricate design pattern that is long forgotten

What we know most about the famous Parsi community of India is that they are great businessmen and are located in the financial capital of India, Mumbai. But the community has a lot more to it than the business. They are known for their scrumptious food like the Dhansak and pies. At the same time when the community of Parsis came to India, they brought with them textile art of Parsi embroidery. From that list of work is the ParsiGaraSaree about which very little is known.

The origin and history of GaraSarees

The origin of the ParsiGaraSaree can be traced back to the Bronze Age in Persia. But much historical evidence has shown that the ParsiGaraSaree is just 150 years old. From the historical accounts of the community, it is believed that the gara design came into being when the Parsi merchants in the 19th and 20th centuries began travelling to China for trade. On their way back, Parsi merchants brought back 3D artistic embroidery depicting flora and fauna. The embroidery was then commissioned on a saree.

The initial design involved covering the saree from corner to corner through this embroidery. However, with time as women started travelling to China, they brought about their own creative changes to embroidery. Parsi women included narrow borders, blank spaces for tucking in, and variations in the design.

Among the famous designs in GaraSaree is CheenaCheeni, depicting a Chinese man and a Chinese woman, bridges, plantations, and people doing daily chores in China, carrying lanterns.

Some other designs were kaandapapeta - onion potato which was used to refer to the commonly available polka dots patterns, spin wheel motif called Karoliya, Marga Margi meaning a rooster and a hen, as well as ChaklaChakli meaning male and female sparrow. Soon these designed sarees came to be associated with the Parsi community in Mumbai who adopted it as their signature style.

Then there is the Parsi Zoroastrian embroidery which came to life with the Parsi community settling in different parts of India and incorporating the local design techniques to it. Among them was the incorporation of the Zardozi embroidery, developing a unique style.

The other inspirations that snuck into the GaraParsi design were Peonies, Lotus, Lilies, Bamboo, and Cherry blossoms. Some other trees, flowers, beautiful birds, pagodas, huts, and human figurines were part of the inspiration for the embroidery.