"The sari is worn by millions of women in India when they are building houses, or cooking or taking care of their children. As a garment, the sari is very much alive," says Malika Verma Kashyap, founder of the Bengaluru-based Border&Fall, a digital platform focusing on the fashion and craft community in India.
For close to two years now, her organisation has been working on The Sari Series, a digital archive to document the various ways saris are draped in India.
"It is such a powerful garment and symbol. It is tied to the livelihood of a lot of people. Also the kind of sari and the way it is draped tells a lot about the person wearing it," Malika, who is also the Producer and Creative Director of the project, says.
Even though there are more than a 100 ways to drape a sari, the most standard is the Nivi style -- the pallu is draped over the left shoulder--that is said to have originated in Andhra Pradesh.
Image Credit: Bon Duke, Gochi Kattu Sari Drape - Andhra Pradesh, India
Image Credit: Bon Duke, Munger Sari Drape - Bihar, India
Image Credit: Bon Duke, Adivasi Sari Drape - Kerala, India
The Sari Series wants to create a digital anthology of the sari drape through 84 how-to-drape videos and three short films on the past, present and future of saris, all of which will be published in the Fall of 2017.
For now, they have pre-released nearly 60 pictures from their collection on the Google Arts and Culture's #WeWearCulture platform.
So there's the Halaki Vokkaliga Sari Drape from Karnataka, Dharampur Sari Drape from Gujarat, Purnia Sari Drape from Bihar, Mukkala Chira Sari Drape from Andhra Pradesh, Bharatnatyam Sari Drape from Tamil Nadu and Dhangad Sari Drape from Goa.
Image Credit Bon Duke, Bhootheyara Sari Drape - Karnataka, India
Image Credit: Bon Duke, Agari Sari Drape - Maharashtra, India
There are also snippets about the origin of different kinds of saris, the designs and drapes.
The Telia Rumaal Sari, for instance, was earlier designed for use as a neck scarf in the Middle East. The history of the Mysore Silk sari can be traced back to the 18th century when the then ruler, Tipu Sultan, is said to have encouraged the production of silk from Indian mulberry silkworms. The Parsi Gara Sari from Gujarat has its origins in present day Iran, dating back to the Bronze Age.
Last year, Border&Fall started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for their ambitious project and have collaborated with several professional including Rta Kapoor Chisti, a textile expert and author of Saris: Tradition and Beyond in 2010.
Image Credit: Bon Duke, Hazaribag Sari Drape - Jharkhand, India
Image Credit: Bon Duke, Dhangad Sari Drape - Goa, India
Image Credit: Bon Duke, Boggili Posi Kattukodam Sari Drape - Andhra Pradesh, India
Over the last decade there has been a shift, mainly in urban India, where more women choose to wear the very versatile nine yards only on special occasions.
But Malika stresses that their non-profit initiative is not about the garment's survival, but the significance it possesses, thus helping start a conversation around it.