This Tanchoi sari is woven in mauve and golden yellow silk. Floral sprays arranged in lozenges are arranged all over the ground. The sari has pallu at both ends as Tanchoi can be used from either side. It is richly decorated by eight big mango motifs surrounded by borders above which are sixteen small mango motifs. The same design is repeated in the pallu of all the early Tanchoi saris seen so far. A thin dark blue and white line provides a demarcation between the ground and the border design, probably for the guidance of the weaver. A continuous meandering scroll border runs along the sari. The early Tanchois were generally woven only in two colours.


  • Title: Tanchoi Sari
  • Date Created: c. 1870 CE
  • Location: India
  • Type: Sari
  • Medium: Tanchoi Silk
  • Region: Surat, Gujarat
  • History of Style of Technique: Tanchoi, symbolic of the heyday of the Parsi community of the 19th century CE, developed as an Indo-Chinese textile along with the gara. The 1st Baronet Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy, sent three weavers from the Joshi family of Surat to the master weaver Chhoi in Shanghai, to learn the art of Chinese silk weaving of a particular kind, around 1856 CE. When they returned after acquiring a considerable command over this art, they bore the name of their master ‘Chhoi’. The material woven by them was called ‘Tanchoi’, meaning the material made by the three (tan) chhois. Tanchoi sari was so popular with the Parsis that practically every home possessed at least one. It also occupied its place in the marriage trousseau of the Parsi bride. The basic technique of Tanchoi is the ‘twill’ weave, and ‘sateen’ weave which can produce an unbroken surface of colour while retaining sufficient strength in the structure. Coloured warps and wefts produce elaborate designs in polychrome. Instead of alternate threads of warp and weft weaving in the plain cloth, in ‘twill’ and ‘sateen’ the interval is increased. The ‘twill’ weaving which produces a much closer fabric than the plain satin weave, was employed specially for the pallus. The rest of the sari was woven by ‘sateen’ weaves. The patterns, particularly of the ground of the sari, or of the plain material, are arranged in diagonal formations such as the lozenges, and most complex designs are formed by variations of the same. Proper balance between the thickness of the warp and the weft, correct calculation of the number of picks required for the design and accurate blow of the comb to compact the weft while weaving and the quality of the raw material determine the perfection of the final product. The most important test of the Tanchoi is the complete absence of loose long floats on the other side of the fabric, even if they are required at long intervals in the pattern (see close up of reverse). Even in the most intricate designs, such floats are not permissible in Tanchoi weaving. With the introduction of power loom and change in fashion tanchoi weaving went out of vogue in the early 20th century.
  • Dimensions: 600 x 125.5 cms
  • Accession Number: 83.4/3

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