About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Parsi Gara Saris in the Mistry Mysteries

In the two legal mysteries bu Sujata Massey set in the early 1920’s featuring Perveen Mistry, the first fictional woman solicitor in Bombay, wears beautiful saris that have a special draping as she is a Parsi, a member of the Zoroastrian faith.

In The Satapur Moonstone she travels to the princely state of Satapur. Her sister-in-law Gulnaz provides her with some beautiful gara saris suitable for a visit to the palaces of the maharani’s in Satapur. Mistry has lost her best sarees when she left her abusive husband in The Widows of Malabar Hill.

My blogging friend, Moira Redmond, of the fine blog, Clothes in Books, has made me far more aware of the clothes worn by fictional characters.

In The Satapur Moonstone Mistry wears to the evening meal with the maharani’s “a blue silk sari with Chinese embroidery. It was a classic gara that had been part of Gulnaz’s wedding trouseau, the very best sari Perveen had brought”.

At the top of this post is a photo of contemporary blue silk gara sari with embroidery.

In the Aashni & Co. Journal there is the following explanation of the Parsi gara:

The Parsi gara, in a nutshell, is three things. Indian embroidery with a Persian heritage and a Chinese origin. The Parsi embroidery can be traced back to 650AD where Persian women undertook the Indian style of clothing. Parsi men travelled to China and bought yards of silk fabric for their women. The gara was a result of inter-cultural amalgamation where the fabric was China’s and the embroidery was heavily influenced by India’s Hindu and Iran’s Zoroastrian cultures.


The Journal further discusses the techniques involved:

The main stitches that are all intricately entwined are satin stitch, crewel stitch, stem stitch and French knot. Geometric designs are rarely used and most patterns are influenced by scenes and stories of Chinese origin, such as the bridges, pagodas, boatmen and shrines. The colours comprise of two shades. The base fabric is generally darker with ivory thread work or a pastel coloured textile is embroidered with multicoloured threads.

An example of that fine thread work is above.

Later in the book Mistry chooses another lovely sari to wear:

…. A lime-coloured sari embroidered with curling vines and blush colored camellias, one of the most elegant Gulnaz had packed for her.

A photo of lime green gara sari is to the right.

I have never seen in real life such saris. They are spectacular. Such saris indicate the prominence and prosperity of the woman who wears them. I expect they  would be prized for a lifetime.
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Massey, Sujata - (2019) - The Widows of Malabar Hill and A First Woman Lawyer to be Admired; (2019) - The Satapur Moonstone

4 comments:

  1. What beautiful saris, Bill! I'm very glad you spotlighted them here, as they are such an important part of the dress and the culture. And it's interesting that different saris draped in different ways are representative of different cultures in India. I know Moira will love this post!

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    1. Margot: Thanks for the kind words. You are apt in your comment on the importance of saris in culture.

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  2. Beautiful. These are works of art. Should be considered as such.
    When I read the two Sujata Massey books set in India, I noted that Parsi women wear their saris differently from women who are Hindu.

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    1. Kathy D.: Thanks for the comment. They are works of art that deserve to be cherished by generations. I had not known draping was so important.

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