Most of us love the rich and lustrous look of silk, but often keep away from it due to the high maintenance and ‘occasion-wear’ status. So, for those who would like to wear it daily, seems almost impossible. However, what if we tell you that you could get the look of a silk saree, but with the comfort of cotton? Does it seem too good to be true? It is indeed possible!
The Mashru Silk gives us the best of both worlds with a magical cotton-like comfort and the rich vibrancy of silk!
The Mashru fabric is made with distinctive and vibrant threads which can be found in the Kutch and Patan region of Gujarat, which make up for the lack of color in the drab desert regions. The Mandvi port of Kutch was one of the major centers for the production of this fabric. The word ‘Mashru’ means ‘allowed’ ind Arabic and this name stems from a very interesting fact.
In Islam, it is considered Haraam for a man to wear silk garments, and silk was not allowed to touch their skin. But since Mashru fabric has Cotton weave on the inside and silk weave on the outside, the silk does not touch the person’s skin and is hence ‘allowed’. However, the fabric was later used by both Muslims and Hindus of the Kutch region.
This fabric instantly became popular in countries like Turkey, Persia and middle eastern countries as it allowed the people to wear such fabrics without breaking any religious rules. It was also favorable to the hot desert conditions in the Kutch region as the cotton underside was soft and absorbent.
The fabric is made up of both cotton and silk fabrics, and thus there is a unique process involved in their making. The weave consists of Cotton weft (or horizontal yarns) and Silk warp, or (vertical yarns) which make up the outer side of the fabric. For the weave to be firm yet show off the lustre of the silk, there are four to eight Cotton wefts for every Silk warp, depending on the quality of the fabric.
After weaving, the fabric is first washed with cold water and then beaten with wooden hammers while the fabric is still moist. Then a paste is made from wheat flour, called glazing and is applied to the folds of the fabric to maintain the consistency of the freshly woven fabric during the dyeing process. It is then beaten again with wooden hammers and tightly pressed with a compress. After this process of priming the fabric is completed, it is ready for dyeing.
The artisans use natural vegetable dyes such as indigo (blue), logwood (purple), madder (pink and rose), rhubarb (orange and yellow). The colorful hues that are achieved with natural vegetable dyes grow darker and richer with age, which is why it is preferred by the artisans. Mashru fabric was originally dyed with the distinct striped and dotted pattern which are contemporaneous with the style itself. However, nowadays, the fabric can be found in many bright colours and designs with bootis and quirky object prints as well. You can find them at Fabriclore.com!
Since the fabric is made by intersecting the weaves and alternating between Cotton and Silk yarn, not only does it have a unique mix of the Silk yarns and Cotton yarns, the Mashru fabric is also stronger and more durable than many other Silk fabric.
The Mashru fabric was originally used to make apparel such as kurtas and tunics for men of the Muslim community. When the fabric later spread to Gujarat, women in the Saurashtra and Kutch regions used the fabric to weave backless Kanjari blouses, Cholis and vibrant ghagras. They also did embroidery and mirror work on the Mashru Fabric to create their own versions of the fabric. In recent times, Mashru Silk has been revived through fresh contemporary styles by Avant Garde designers.
We can see patrons starting to prefer Mashru silk for apparel like blouses, where Mashru fabric provides the perfect mix of the glamor of silk and the comfort of cotton. Mashru Scarves and Stoles are also gaining popularity to add a glamorous element to basic everyday outfits.
Independent fashion houses and labels like Raw Mango by Sanjay Garg, Ekaya by Palak Shah, have been bringing back and using traditional crafts such as Mashru and Paithani into fashionable designs such as Versatile Indo-western jackets, trousers and other innovative designs. Mashru Silk has even been used by foreign designers like the Fédération Française in the 2018 de la Création Couture Sur Mesure – Paris as a part of their collection which reinvents Indian fabrics into wearable western apparel. Modern day princess Soha Ali Khan even sported Mashru Silk as a part of her wedding outfits.
Nowadays, it is even being used to make opulent looking home wear such as cushion covers and quilts. It is even being used for making gift bags for events and other such accessories!
The fabric, being lightweight yet rich looking, is perfect for bridesmaid dresses and even the bride’s Sangeet or reception outfits. Check out Fabriclore’s Mashru silk collection to find uniquely colored geometric patterns, floral print and quirky object designs. The Ajrakh Mashru collection would be perfect for crafting suits, dupattas, saree blouse and jackets owing to its light weight and gorgeous patterns!
Let us know in the comments about your favorite way to wear this comfortable yet lavish fabric and share your designs with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Authored by: Vanathi Panneerselvam