Endangered Species: The Sari

In the last few years, the traditional Indian sari has declined in popularity, Time reports.

The sari has been worn on the sub-continent since at least 2800-1800 BCE (from which era the first known image dates.) But in recent years, hand-loom cotton saris, which used to be standard daywear, have fallen out of favor with young Indian women, who see them as special-occasion clothing. And fancy versions, the expensive Banarasi and Kanjeevaram silks which can take weeks to hand-weave, are faring no better. Although saris are still de rigeur for fancy occasions, younger women tend to favor designer, rather than hand-loom, models. The result is devastating for India's hand-loomers, many of whom have been in the business for generations. And as a result, fewer young weavers are learning the art.

While we may mourn the loss of such a stunning traditional craft, to many Indian women, this sartorial sea-change is a positive one. Explains one student, "There is a general perception that you would consider a woman in western formal wear more empowered than her more traditional counterparts." Below, a gallery of sari images - both functional and, ahem, special occasion.


Endangered Species: The Sari

Dust storm, New Delhi, May.


Endangered Species: The Sari

Miss India World Pooja Chopra, in a sari by designer Ritu Kumar, at the Pantaloons Femina Miss India Contest 2009.


Endangered Species: The Sari

A woman and her child, July, New Delhi.


Endangered Species: The Sari

Director Deepa Mehta at the 2007 Academy Awards.


Endangered Species: The Sari

Dressing a statue of the Hindu Goddess Durga for the Durga Puja festival, Bombay.


Endangered Species: The Sari

River bank behind Taj Mahal, Agra.


Endangered Species: The Sari

A model wears a traditional sari in a show designed to promote the work of south Indian designers, Madras.


Endangered Species: The Sari


A Bangladeshi woman shops for saris in Dhaka.


Images via Getty

The Dying Art Of The Sari [Time]