The Rehwa Society set up by the erstwhile royals in the Fort patronises the artistic heritage and ensures fair wages and benefits for the weavers
The weavers were settled in the ancient town of Maheshwar by the Narmada, & so the name…
The 18th century warrior queen Ahilya Bai Holkar of Malwa (included parts of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan) was a passionate patron of the arts. To create unique gifts for relatives and royal guests, she employed special craftsmen from Surat to design exclusive nine yard sarees.
Designs were inspired by the temples, palaces and forts of Madhya Pradesh. For instance, the detailing on the Maheshwar Fort – the matte pattern and the chameli ka phool motifs seen across the fort – are often reflected on the sarees. Brick and diamond patterns too are common, as are stripes and checks. The pallu is bright – in magenta, green, mauve, pink, maroon and/or violet. The traditional Maheshwari has five stripes in alternating shades – two white and three coloured ones. Saree borders are reversible.
Earlier, natural dyes were used; zari and kinari enhanced the richness. Gold and silver threads and gemstones were added for extra shimmer. Originally woven in silk, the sarees are today available in cotton, silk cotton and even wool. Till date, the lightweight sarees with the singular glossy finish are much sought after.