The silk industry in Paithan developed atleast 2000-2500 years back.
Paithan finds a mention in the Naradpuran, although the puranas may not be an accurate representation of history. Paithan is mentioned in accounts of foreign travelers and merchants. Trade in paithan was heriditary and through the sea. A proof of this are the coins of Satvahans found in Paithan, which bear the symbol of the ship. Raja Hal from the Satavahanas, was patron of the arts and he commissioned a series of poems (Charoli , poems made of 4 lines ) about his capital. Pratishtana from his citizens. From this, a collection of 700 poems known as ‘Gathasaptasati’ or “Gatha Sattasai’ was composed. This ‘Gatha sattasai’ has mentions of the Paithani in it. Some poems mention how the ladies of Rome wait eagerly for the ship to come from Paithan bearing silks. Since the trade was a barter system, Rome traded Lapis Lazuli(semi precious stones), Amphorae of wine and perfumes with Paithan in exchange of silk. An amphora dating to 100 BCE was found in PAithan, completely intact and bearing evidences of wine. Some poems also bear evidences of this. However, paithan bears very few material evidences from before the 2nd century BCE , However alot of material evidences such as manuscripts, monuments, coins and seals are found from the 2nd century BCE onwards. Paithan was prominent in the dynasties of the Sheelahars, Rashtrakutas, Chalukyas, Cholas, Chellas and the PAdyaa but reached its second zenith in the dynasty of the Yadavas of Deogiri. The urban form of Paithan today evolved around the 17th century (Shivkalin) and rechead its peak in the Peshwa period. The Maratha and the Peshwas were not the ones patronizing the Paithani. It was also patronized by the Mughals, the Nizams, and other royal houses.Letters from the Mughal Emperor demanding cloth from Paithan are available even today with some of the Sahukars. These letters describe intricate details and orders including number of cloth, the motifs on them and even the color combinations and new designs. Since the paithani was so popular and celebrated. There are several Ovya (short poems by women) describing and praising the Paithani. These ovya describe the special types of paithani such as kusumbi(chocolate brown) paithani and kalichandra (black) paithani. Paithani were also described as Padamavati in these days although this is contested. One of the ovyas describe a kalichandra from the viewpoint of the common people. ‘Kalichandrakala vajani savvasher, barik hichi kambar, nirya padalya shambhar’ which describes a woman wearing a black paithani weighing 1.5 kg and whose waist is so slender that requires a hundred pleats to drape the paithani. The urban form of Paithan, such as the Targalli, Hatai Mohalla, Chopadegalli, Jargalli evolved in the Peshwa period. Now weavers of paithan have moved to Yeola. There were families with different caste who were involved in different steps of paithani making such as some families used to dye the silk yarn with Natural dyes they were called Rangarhatti, some families sourced silk yarn and zari, some were involved in weaving they were Bunkar. These dyes were organic and natural and prepared from flowers, roots and leaves such as kat, sag, terda etc. Paithani was at its peak at the time of Peshwa period. Sahukar wadas acted as banks for the royal families. Sahukar were facilatators for the Paithanis. They established a trade of paithanis and often commissioned Paithanis for the Marathas, Nizams and Peshwas. The sahukars would pay the weavers the cost of raw materials and certain amount for weaving and then sell Paithanis for profit.