West Bengal has a reputation for producing quality silk. Murshidabad, a district in West Bengal is famous for its Baluchari silk sarees. Baluchari got its name from a small village called "Baluchari", which is situated in Murshidabad. Baluchari sarees come in somber colors with silk brocaded designs on the palla and the border.
Baluchari is usually five yards in length. These sarees have colors, which harmonize with one another. You will not find any contrasting colors in it. Even if the sari is red, you will find intricate golden work on it, which will give it an elegant and royal look.
Mostly nature designs like flowers, shrubs etc. are woven into the silk base of these sarees. Narrative designs such as people on horses, musicians playing, men and women in various poses are also popular Baluchari designs.
Baluchari sarees are rich and sophisticated. They can be worn by young girls, middle-aged women as well as elder women; such is the beauty of the Baluchari.
It takes a lot of time and hard labor to weave a Baluchari. Firstly, the silk worms are reared. When they turn into cocoons, the silk thread is extracted from the cocoon. Then the silk threads are processed and dyed in various colors. Then patterns are woven onto the silk, using various threads. Now when you see a Baluchari in a shop, you will know how much time and labor goes into making a single piece.
The history of the Baluchari goes back centuries. During the rule of the Mughals, Baluchari was in high demand. It was mostly reserved for the elite class due to its high quality. Only royal families and members of the royal court used to wear Baluchari.
At the time of the British, Bengal silk was very popular, mostly because it was high in quality and cheap. The silk industry of Bengal was flourishing at that time and giving employment to many silk weavers.
In the 18th century, it was Nawab Murshid Kuli Khan of Bengal who patronized the weaving tradition of Bengal.