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Jaipur's Maharani Sari

This time in Jaipur (Rajasthan), I discovered one of the most traditional royal textiles, which not only look stunning but have therapeutic benefits as well. Known as the ‘Maharani Sari’ (which mean’s ‘Queen’s Sari’), this golden-beige precursor of ‘Ayurganic fabrics’ is still worn by Rajasthan’s royal women during festivals like Makar Sankranti and Vasant Panchami. What’s unique about this sari is that it is dyed with multiple coats of multani mitti and ‘power washed’ by the waters of Jaipur’s Jaigarh Fort.

Multani mitti deposits

Multani mitti is a mineral-rich clay that originated in the city of Multan (which now lies in Pakistan) near the Cholistan desert. Also known as Fuller’s Earth, this highly absorbent composition of volcanic ash and ancient plant material is particularly beneficial during the hot season of the Indian sub-continent. Through generations, Indian women have passed down homemade beauty recipes based on multani mitti to their daughters.

The royal Maharani saris work the benefits of multani mitti into the very pores of the fabric that drapes your body through the day

Multani mitti

However, the Maharani saris take it a step further by working the benefits of this powdered clay into the very pores of the fabric that drapes your body through the day. According to local intelligence, these saris shield the skin from pollution and UV rays, absorb excessive greasiness, draw toxins from entire body and allow skin to breathe. Multani mitti is also scientifically proven to be bacteriostatic against gram positive bacteria – another benefit that’s carried through to the fabric.

These saris shield the skin from pollution and UV rays, absorb excessive greasiness, draw toxins from entire body, allow skin to breathe and guard against gram positive bacteria

Kalamkari work on the sari

Traditional pallav border

The saris are available in a variety of natural cottons and silks, but for the most authentic version, try the raw silk or cotton-silk versions. Averaging at about Rs. 2,000 (US$50), they are embellished all over with beautiful kalamkari and the pallav is woven with traditional patterns. Another unique quality? If you want to wear the sari in a stiff, starched version, just dry it in the sun; if you want to wear it loose and soft, dry it in the shade.

Not prone to wearing a sari at all? These five metre lengths (that’s how much an average sari measures) are perfect for shaping into a variety of other clothes – like tunic tops and sarongs.