The secrets of the sari
Sea of Cloth: The Journey of Sari is staged in conjunction with Deepavali celebrations at the National Museum of Singapore. (Photo: Singapore Indian Theatre and Film Explorers)

The secrets of the sari

Between the delicate threads of a sari lies a rich story waiting to be told about the centuries-long journey the sari took to become the staple in Indian women’s wardrobe. The cross-disciplinary theatre production, Sea Of Cloth: The Journey of Sari, by the Singapore Indian Theatre and Film Explorers (SITFE), seeks to tell that story.

The inspiration for the production came after SITFE founder, Saleem Hadi, worked on his short film Kolusu, or The Anklet. As he was on the subject of the female ornamental accessory, he began to explore it further and stumbled upon the sari.

What piqued Saleem’s curiosity is its ubiquity, paired with, what he feels, is a lack of common knowledge about the garment’s history.

In his pursuit to piece together the history of the sari, Saleem spent almost a year arduously poring through centuries-old archival material.

He says: “The tale of the sari is as deep as the sea. The more I explore the timeless garment, the more I get lost as there are so many valuable and interesting information”

The result is the historical fiction production, Sea of Cloth, that begins in the early 1800s and traces the journey of the fabric as it moves across borders and oceans.

It tells the tale of the many hands that turned the sari into a popular textile which played a critical role in Singapore’s trade and industry, particularly in the city’s early-years.

He says: “I hope the audience will go back knowing more about the sari beyond just being clothing for Indian women. There is so much more to a sari.”

Details about Sea Of Cloth: The Journey of Sari here.

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