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Saree (or Sari), is a principal outer garment of Hindu women and is a common and elegant garment of women of the Indian subcontinent in general.

It consists of a five to seven yards long piece of, often brightly coloured, frequently embroidered, silk, cotton, or synthetic cloth.


It is classically worn wrapped around the body at the waist level with some 5 ft left at the end to cover upper body and/or used over the head as a hood called 'ghoonghat' in Hindi. Saree is wore over a short blouse and a petticoat into which it is folded and tucked at the waist to form a long skirt.

A similar cloth is also a common male cloth item in the Indian subcontinent and is popularly called 'dhoti' (Mahatma Gandhi used to wear one). Although still very much in use, primarily in Indian villages, its not as common or popular as Saree anymore.

Historical Note

Excavated sculptures from the 2nd century BC show men and women of the subcontinent with unclothed upper bodies wearing the saree wrapped around their hips and drawn between the legs in such a fashion as to form a series of folds down the front. Some references in Kama Sutra also suggest that women in ancient India used to keep their breasts exposed.

But in the 12th century, when the Muslims conquered north and central India, they insisted that the breasts be covered and that led to the state of saree today. No other major change has occured in use of this garment otherwise.

Sa"ree (?), n. [Hind. .]

The principal garment of a Hindoo woman. It consists of a long piece of cloth, which is wrapped round the middle of the body, a portion being arranged to hang down in front, and the remainder passed across the bosom over the left shoulder.


© Webster 1913.

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