TALES 》 Kanchipuram Silk Sarees
My Trousseau, Kanchipuram Silk Saree
Kanchipuram is also known as Kanchi/Kachiped/Kancheepuram. Kanchipuram is a district in the northeast of the state of Tamil Nadu in India. Kanchipuram nickname is called as 'The City of Thousand Temples' and served as the capital city of the Pallava Kingdom.
The south Indian women are not complete without a lustrous Kanchipuram saree. With bright contrasting borders. During occasions such as Diwali (or Deepavali), Pongal, weddings and festivals, only Upper-caste families used to purchase of many silk saris. Current trends on Kanchipuram sarees, silver is being used in addition to gold. The famous 'Kamakshi Amman Temple' is a must if you are visiting Kanchipuram place the deity here is Parvati.
Origin and history:
The story of the Kanjeevaram silk saree begins in Hindu mythology. Legend has it that the Kanchi silk weavers are descendants of Sage Markanda, who was considered to be the master weaver for the Gods themselves. It was during the reign of Krishna Devaraya (from the Vijayanagara Empire) that the art really took off, images of scriptures and figurines found on the temples around the village.
Aesthetically divine beauties can be found in two different varieties from this place namely
- Kanchipuram silk sarees
- Kanchi cotton sarees
Kanchipuram silk saree are handwoven from pure mulberry silk threads and are marvelous collection of hues, such as dark chocolate brown, bourbon orange, stunning mango yellow, exquisite mustard yellow , chartreuse green, sea green, exquisite black, bottle green, crimson red, pista green, wine red, tangerine orange, cardamom green, royal blue garnet maroon, rani pink, emerald green, navy blue, iridescent blue, fuchsia pink, pale sandalwood beige, mulberry purple, khakhi grey, rich violet, deep brown, onion pink, scarlet red, pale orange, off white, golden beige, turquoise, raspberry red and many more to timeless shades.
Gopuram representing temple tower also known as temple motifs, mayilkann known as peacock eye, rudraksham representing Rudraksha beads, yaanai motifs also known as elephant , paisley motif, mayil chakram motifs, kammal motifs, lion motifs, neelambari motifs, malli muthu motifs, kili is also known as parrot motif, Iruthalaipakshi motifs is known as two-headed eagle, yazhi motifs, kuthirai means horse motif, maanga motif known as mango, Annapakshi or hamsa motif, tamarai motifs, kuyilkann known as nightingale eye, thuthripoo motif are few known motifs, depiction of stories from mythology are very common in Kanchipuram sarees and one can also see traditional motifs featured in the Kanchipuram sarees.
The beauty of borders
Borders are usually handcrafted with epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata and inspired by local temples and temple art, these sarees are traditionally woven with wide contrasting borders, depending on the designers artistic skills, innovation and taste and latest trends, varies types of borders in Kanchipuram silk sarees are seen such as Thuthiripoo border, Rudrakash border, Double border, Piping border, Broad border, Checks border, Digonal border, Korvai temple border, Ganga Jamuna border, Kadi border, Bavanchi border, Rising border, Sakari border, Thandavalam border, Tissue border, Meena work border, Vanashringaram border, Shikargarh border, Pogidi border, Retta petta border, kuthuvilaku border, Kottadi border, Kodivisiri border and beautifully crafted thread-work border saree are one of my favorites.
Kanchipuram silk saree has been recognized as a 'Geographical indication' by the government of India. These centuries old classic beauties, is done on a slow process via 'throw shuttle pit loom' or raised 'pit loom', to weave these sarees 'three shuttle' are been used. Kanchipuram silk saree uniqueness lies, were the main body of the saree and border are woven separately and then interlocked together, while joint is woven so strongly that even if the sarees tears, the border will not get detached, this differentiates from 'Kanchipuram silk' sarees from the others.
Patterns are formed by lines and squares and when the jasmine motif is found either inside a square or scattered all over, it is called mallinaggu. The Thandavalam motif has parallel-line motifs running all over the body of the sari. In the pattu motif, the pallu and the border alone have floral motifs independently woven on them.
Techniques used in weaving Kanchipuram silk sarees are
Celebration of draping
Silk is always considered the ceremonial wear in India, these silk fabrics are an extremely strong and durable. The vanity of India by showcasing and producing varieties of silk, the most popular of which is made from cocoons, whose worms feed on mulberry leaves. While happiness and content of every women draping these exquisite luxury sarees is an ultimate crown. Richness and luxury is a statement, whether it's "Cannels film festival" or "The Oscars", you name them red carpets in Hollywood or Bollywood, one who loves to stand out in the crowd than this is the best traditional attire. These traditional sarees are a delight, gifting to someone on there wedding anniversary, or wearing it on 'Big fat Indian weddings', cultural parties, temple festivals, during "Arangetram", Indian colorful festivals like "Varamahalakshmi", "Makar sankranti", Thai pongal(the harvest festival), the hindu festival of lights "Diwali", "Vinayaka Chaturthi"(reveres god Ganesha), dasara, "Ugadi" the beginning of a new age, navratri festival, house-warming, last but not least lovely Christmas.
Seeing the vibrant shades in kanchipuram, I turned crazy the never ending desire to buy more, my collection of Kanchipuram silk sarees started, I also seen many shopping for traditional silk salwar Kameez, Pattu pavadai, Kanchi cotton sarees and silk dhoti. People here are friendly and they guide us. One steps to any shop out here for just window shopping also they will get best customer service. "Customer is King" that's there motto, they keep showing products till one get quenched the thirst of buying kanchipuram sarees and other variants of silks. These days they use a substitute metal in the place of gold/silver such as copper zari that manages to hold on to the sheen of the texture while reducing the overall Kanchipuram silk cost.
The natives in this region speak Tamil(regional language), the major weaving communities of Andhra Pradesh migrated to kanchipuram, 'the Devanga' and 'Saligars' weavers, well known for their weaving skills. Depending upon the colors, intricacy of work, patterns, materials used like zari, gold threads used, the price is tagged. Depending on the Intricate design, handwoven masterpiece make take one week to fifteen days or even more to weave Kanchipuram silk saree.
Kanchipuram sarees are the most expensive and require high maintenance. So do check out for specific care instructions on the garment tag once you purchase and follow the instructions carefully, it addition to it, here are certain guidelines.
- Recommended only for dry clean.
- Always iron on low-medium heat and do not spray water while ironing as it might leave a stain.
- Never dry these saree under direct sun.
- To prevent gold and silver zari to not tarnish, these sarees should be folded and wrapped in a pure cotton fabric, this would allow the saree to breathe as well.
- Refold these saree from time to time to avoid ripping on creases.
- If you have a handcrafted artistic tassels(kuchu) for saree, than never wash tassels area, it may become clumsy.
Know your Kanchipuram silk saree Zari Real or Fake?
Tamil Nadu Government have taken an initiative and TIFAC(Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council) both have collaborated and have set up a unit at Kanchipuram, to check authenticity of Kanchipuram silk saree zari, testing unit in which one can check the gold and silver content in zari, or if its a 'tested zari', 'pure zari' and 'imitation zari'. When I had been to Kanchipuram, I had been to the zari testing unit but unfortunately it was closed, locals says you have to pay a nominal fee to check, but when I go for next road trip definitely will show the glimpse of it.
How to identify an authentic Kanchipuram silk saree:
- Silk Board of India has come up with a concept called Silk Mark, which is provided only for pure Kanchipuram silk sarees.
- Carefully pick few loose threads from the saree, burn them, if it releases fumes like burnt hair or burnt leather smell it's an authentic one, fabricated or imitation ones will have no ash after burning.
- To create exquisite designs, Kanchipuram silk saree is woven separately and then interlocked together
- Genuine Kanchipuram sarees are woven with three ply, while low quality Kanchipuram saree will have just two ply silk, used in weaving.
- The Pallu(falling edge of the saree), near the tassels area, pick few threads of the zari, pure zari is made of red silk thread which is twisted with a silver thread and then dipped in 22 carat pure gold, If upon pulling the zari, you notice that the silk thread is not red but white or any other color, than it's a genuine one.
Ancestral Molakalmuru with a modern twist!
Molakalmuru is a village panchayat town in Chitradurga district,Karnataka state, India. Molakalmuru is best known for its hand-woven silk sarees of exquisite design and craftsmanship It is said Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV (Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar) during his visit to the place in 1914, he appreciated the finesse of these sarees. Molakalmuru sarees are available in silk and cotton. It has been granted geographical Indication tag, which add a extra credit to these sarees. The beautiful floral designs and the rich pallu make these sarees attractive and gorgeous. The long border sarees have a contrast border and the traditional touch is their specialty. The weaving is done mainly on pit looms with either fly shuttle or throw shuttle technique.
Ancestral Molakalmuru with a modern twist!
Aroma of freshly brewed coffee at home is an inspiration for me in the morning, twenty nine years back, I recalled, my dad saying I bought this 'Wet grinder' from business trip on a way, to my mother and now I'm gone grey, recollecting the past hailing from business backdrop, traveling passionates me and my dad! Generally considered as traditional city, very fine cotton mills are here, well a typical saree made in Coimbatore region is called as 'Kovai Cora cotton' or 'Kovai Kora cotton' sarees. Due to extreme summers and humid climatic here, always one cannot think of wearing heavy silk or just cottons, this led to innovation of 'Coimbatore sico sarees' here. Seamless saree are a best choice of fashion garment, no matter what occasion you are in.
Embroidery being a needle craft, with colorful yarns to make varies design and patterns and to enhance the beauty fabric, this beautiful ancient handmade embroidery called Phulkari, is from Punjab, which is regarded as very auspicious for brides during marriage ceremonies and newborns.
Warli or Varli are the indigenous tribe or adivasis, Warli tribe hailing from mountains, coastal regions in and around the borders of rural Thane district and Dhule district of Maharashtra and Gujarat states of India. The term Warli is derived from ‘warla’ or ‘varla’ meaning a piece of land. Originally hunters, the Warli tribe later settled down as tenders of agricultural lands. The Varlis are non-aryan tribes, who are firm believers of sun and moon. Practically, the Warlis never worshipped man-made idols. Warli people are a simple folk with simple beliefs that govern their lives. The language of communication with them is mostly in Marathi, Konkani, Sanskrit, Gujarati or Khandeshi Bhil.
On the banks of charming 'Vaigai river' the beautiful Madurai city is localled, the district, in Tamil Nadu state, India, this place is referred and called by various names 'Madurai', 'Koodal', 'Malligai Maanagar', 'Naanmadakoodal' and 'Thirualavai'. During 16th century due to economic crisis weavers from 'Saurashtra' and 'Gujarat' migrated to Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and neighbouring states and some of them settled down in inviting 'Madurai'. These 'Saurashtrians' are highly skilled manufacturers of beautifully crafted fine silk garments and were patronized by Kings and their families, they were called by 'Patnulkarans' the Tamil name by which these people is well known in southern India.
What reminds everyone when I says Bengali is mouth watering and luscious dessert 'Rasgulla' and 'Mishti doi' to name the most popular ones in the list and of course Bengali cotton sarees. The medium of communication here is Bengali. The traditional attire of Bengali women is simple forms of these Tant sarees takes around two days to weave and more intricate designs could even take five to six days to complete a saree. Generally Tant saree comes in pastel shades with beautiful thick borders.
I am huge fan of Banjara jewelry which are antique yet collectables, their most flamboyant and mind-blowing costumes one goes crazy and highly appreciated, they still follow the rich and age old traditional art forms, which are been reflected in their art work, especially hand embroidery requires lot of time and patience and its laborious. These tribes speak Lamani language/Goar-boali it is also called as Banjari language. One can see Banjara tribes in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat in these places they are widely spread across.
One of the most traditional sarees which I had seen apart from Ilkal saree is Hubli cotton sarees, due extreme humidity generally localities adore this saree for daily bases. This is one of the simple weaves but I totally in love with this saree, the texture of the saree is so soft due to the high count of cotton yarn used.
Karaikudi is known as the capital of Chettinad, Chettinad in southern Tamil Nadu is a region of the Sivaganga district that is known for weaving the Chettinad sarees. The people here are very friendly and invite people with a warm smile, the language of communication here is Tamil. Chettinad is the home of the Nattukottai Chettiars(Nagarathar), this community faithfully follow traditions. The major communities involved in weaving Chettinad cotton sarees are Devanga Chettiyars, who are the skilled weavers from ancient days.
The art of weaving Paithani flourished during the 'Satvahana era' in the 200 B.C. The name Paithani is derived from small town Paithan is situated on the banks of the river Godavari located in Central India, Aurangabad district, Maharashtra state, India. The Nizam of Hyderabad was also an ardent admirer of Paithani sarees, the Peshwas took it upon themselves to promote the craft, and consequently, settled Paithani weavers in Yeola, which is now the manufacturing hub for Paithani. The Paithani saree is traditionally a part of the trousseau of every Maharashtrian bride. People here speak Marathi language and they lead simple life. There are many communities involved in weaving these beautiful sarees namely Khatri, Koshti, Swakula Sali are few known communities.
Kollegala is also called as 'Silk City' and renowned for its handloom silk saree industry, much popular for reeling and twisting of silk. Silk weaving is the tradition in many parts of our country, almost each the state has its own cluster, the majority of the weaving skills are been heirlooms.
During olden days these sarees were much in demand and loved by aristocratic and royal families. The traditional double ikat Patola which originates from Patan, small little town which is north of Ahmedabad in Gujarat state. Creating designs by tyeing knots on warp and weft, it takes around three to four months to prepare tie and dyed on warp and weft threads for one saree. Patola saree art was much of labour-intensive, with the combined effort of four weavers, it would take anywere around a six months to a year to weave a masterpiece saree from the scratch, its perseverance in doing it from the time of process of dying that is the reason it was too expensive, and was worn only by the royal and upperclass, who were able to pay for opulence.
Chanderi town is a highly renowned for its rich heritage, surrounded by hills southwest of the Betwa River in Ashoknagar district, Madhya Pradesh state, India Well known for the handwoven traditional sarees, these are mostly popular for the elite class and favorable choice of Queens in India as they are a bit expensive and one can see major center of Jain culture. Artisan community involved in the production of Chanderi silk, a diverse mix of various communities namely Kohlis and the Muslim Julaha community. Traditional weaving culture was available during 13th century, Initially, the weavers were Muslims, later in 1350 the Koshti weavers from Jhansi migrated to Chanderi and settled here, during the Mughal period, Chanderi fabric business been recognize and started booming. The production of Chanderi has been protected by India as a Geographic Indication (GI).