The origin of this fine fabric is shrouded in mystery and wonder. The precise data about the beginning of Kota Doria technique, as it is practiced today, is not present in writing. Due to the absence of concrete information to support any claims, several tales have been floating around the villages which are involved in this technique.
Zari embroidered Kota Doria saree
Its name as Kota Masuria in itself is quite enigmatic. Folklore suggests that the craft originated in Mysore and then moved to Kota where it is now based, hence the word ‘Masuria’ in the name. The weavers are believed to have moved to Kota because of the patronage they received from the royal families of Rajasthan.
L: Kota Doria saree with gota patti
R: Kota Doria dupatta
Another theory suggests that the name refers to the use of Mysore silk in the weaving of the fabric. Textile experts, however, have suggested that the name refers to the finest of the square checks, which are said to resemble a masoor lentil.
A variety of Doria sarees
Kota saris were primarily patronised by Maharao Bhim Singh, who summoned the weavers from the Deccan region to Kota, between 1707 and 1720. The art of using open khat patterns on fabric was so intriguing that it was highly appreciated by the elite. Even today, the traditional ways of setting patterns, making graphs, dyeing and yarn setting are little changed due to the high efficiency of the methods.
A variation of Kota Doria saree
Kota Doria, when it originated, was made in white and had to be dyed according to personal preferences. Eventually, solid dyed or printed Kota Doria with a silk embroidered border became popular. The demand for a variety of Doria fabrics made it a favourite of various different classes. While the middle class locals preferred simple cotton fabric that would be suitable for the prevailing hot climate, the noble gentry demanded opulent embellished Doria attire with brocade work and fine silk strands.
A traditional Kota Doria saree in bright colours
Images: Itokri, Utsavpedia, Craftsvilla, Spiceflair, Swadesh Unnatisilks, Mashpedia