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Drawing on experiences from villagers in Bengal to scientists in Bangalore, this book explores the beauty, adaptability and personality of India's most iconic garment. Banerjee and Miller show why the sari has survived and indeed flourished as everyday dress when most of the world has adopted western clothing. Their book presents both an intimate portrait of the lives of women in India today and an alternative way for us all to think about our relationship to the clothes we wear.

A new bride is unable to move from her husband's motorbike as her sari comes undone. A young man wonders how he will cope with the saris complicated folds in a romantic clinch. A villager's soft, worn sari is her main comfort during a fever. Throughout the book, these and other remarkable stories place the sari at the heart of relationships between mothers and infants, mistresses and maids, designers and soap opera stars.

Illustrated and rich in personal testimony, The Sari expertly shows how one of the world's most simply constructed garments can reveal the intricate design of life in modern India.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A fascinating look at this great Indian traditional wear told through the voices of women who love and live with it on a daily basis" —G. Chadha, director of Bend It Like Beckham
Publishers Weekly
Banerjee and Miller, a lecturer and a professor, respectively, in the anthropology department at University College London, examine five meters of fabric in their intricate study. Their academic background is only bothersome in the unnecessary and distracting footnotes, whose information could have easily been incorporated into the text. Otherwise, it's an enthralling celebration, exploration and analysis-through women's voices-of India's most symbolic garment. The authors quickly explain that their book isn't a primer on colors, types, draping and tying; rather, it uses interviews and research to explore the relationship between women and their saris. It covers the traditions and politics of acquisition, whether by a girl, a bride-to-be or a maid receiving a hand-me-down from her mistress; of learning to wear it; of storage and cleaning; and of sexuality. These implications combine with ever-present practical considerations: "She must try to avoid the frequent injuries that arise from getting the sari caught in doors, machines, or worst of all, the stove. But to achieve social respectability, she must learn to move, drape, sit, fold, pleat and swirl the sari in an appropriate way." One chapter takes readers through an executive woman's morning sari decision making and how she creatively makes her selection with specific visual (and political) goals in mind. The women's stories enrich throughout, successfully and unforgettably bringing the sari alive. Banerjee and Miller have provided an intimate peek into the culture of Indian women, and their research shows that although the subject is specific to a particular culture, its concerns are universal to all women. Photos. (Oct. 27) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
This is an intimate visit to India using a garment as a vehicle to transport the reader. Rather than producing a catalog of specimens or a historical chronology, the authors have created a biography of the sari. In this charming and personable book, Banerjee (Pathan Unarmed) and Miller (the author and editor of several books on culture), who both teach anthropology at University College, London, look at the development of the sari and its styles, designs, and history. But the focus is on the personal impact of the sari on everyday women in India, illustrated through interviews and individual stories. The agony of how to pick a sari as a gift for your mother, the dressing dilemmas of a young lady new to the garment, saris in the workplace, and other anecdotal issues personalize the discussion of this simple garment. While this book is uniquely appealing, its use of specialized terminology can be distancing. Still, as a fascinating look at a garment consisting of six yards of fabric, this celebration of the sari is recommended for most libraries.-Karen Ellis, Nicholson Memorial Lib. Syst., Garland, TX Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781847883148
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Publication date: 8/15/2008
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 767,491
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Mukulika Banerjee is Reader in Social Anthropology, University College London and author of The Parthan Unarmed.
Daniel Miller is Professor of Anthropology, University College London. Recent books include A Theory of Shopping, The Internet: An Ethnographic Approach (with Don Slater) and Ed. Car Cultures.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Ch. 1 Mina's Story 11
Ch. 2 The Intimate Sari 23
Ch. 3 Possession 45
Ch. 4 The Youthful Sari 63
Ch. 5 The Married Sari 93
Ch. 6 The Working Sari 109
Ch. 7 Growing Old Together 135
Ch. 8 The Problem of What to Wear 151
Ch. 9 The Pleasure of What to Buy 171
Ch. 10 Producers and Designers 193
Ch. 11 Arbiters of Fashion 217
Ch. 12 Modern Clothes 233
Notes 254
Bibliography 262
Glossary 267
Index 268
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2008


    If you are expecting the full color images of the original hard back, don't buy this volume as it employs poor quality black and white reproductions in stead. If color is important to you, find the hard-bound original.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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