The beauty of fashion augments when different perspectives and heuristics are added to it in order to create something new from the existing materials, designs, fabrics and whatnot. One of the best example that shows different perspectives and heuristics being applied to the fashion industry in India is that of Kota Doria. Kota Doria is a unique hand-woven fabric having a characteristic square-check pattern. Each square of 14 yarns (8 of cotton and 6 of silk) is termed as a ‘‘Khat’’, and this is the hallmark of Kota Doria. A total of 300 ‘‘Khat’s’ are there across the width of the fabric, which is up to 46 inches due to the usage of a throw shuttle technique on pit looms.
These check weaves were initially worn as headgears or what the northerners refer to as the ‘Paggdi’ but gradually, with time, they started getting woven and worn as sarees extensively. It was perhaps the local mind and the heat resisting nature of Kota Doria that allowed it to change its identity from a headgear to a full-fledged and a finely woven saree.
The name ‘Kota Doria’ comes from the city of Kota in Rajasthan. Though, regardless of its name and identity it got, It was first designed in Kaithoon, a small town located approximately 15kms away from Kota. Some people also believe that the Kota Doria arose from the southern state of Mysore but later moved to Rajasthan. Moreover, it was during the 17th century when a Mughal general along with his son Ram Rao Singh aided the weavers to migrate from Mysore. Because of this, the weavers were known as ‘Masuria’ and the sarees that they made started to be called as “Kota Masurias”.
Speaking of today, several clusters of Kota Doria can be found in nearby places like Bundi, Kota & Baran, however, Kaithoon still remains the main hub and the hidden epicentre of Kota Doria’s production. Also, around 2,500 families in Kota are still practising the craft and trying to preserve its essence even with the declining trend and craze of the fabric.
Emerging from the heat and the high temperatures of Rajasthan, the Khats in Kota Doria makes the fabric airy, breathable and soft, which is why it is one of the most preferred fabrics to be worn in the summers. Furthermore, Kota Doria sarees are woven in cotton, and silk both varieties and embellished with extra weft motifs with the use of silver and golden zari. These Kotas are block printed in Bagru, Sanganer, Jaipur and in Ajrakhpur with azo-free and natural dyes. Kotas also come in tie-dye, Bandhej patterns and Leheriya which are further embroidered with zari or gota patti traditionally.
Perhaps the ever-evolving fashion industry keeps on getting experimented but the good part is that all of us end up having gifts such as the Kota Doria, a perfect and comfortable fabric to be worn in summers, in this case.
Although the fad and the craze for Kota Dorias are declining gradually but the art of weaving these Khats in different colours, sizes and patterns still turns out to be the bread and butter of thousands of families in Rajasthan. It is, therefore, an effort of Chowdhrain to revive and even promote Kota Dorias in such a way that this summer, at least one Kota Doria saree is worn by each member of the Chowdhrain family.