Stunning Kanchipuram Saree
The occasion of the marriage of for a south Indian bride is incomplete without a Kanchipuram saree in her trousseau. The sari is the favorite choice for ladies on special occasions and festivals. These can be ideal gifts for birthdays and anniversaries. Kanchi saree is termed as the queen of all silk sarees. The strength and magnificence of the Kanchipuram saree make it most popular among ladies all over the world.
The distinguishing feature of the sari is that it is made from pure mulberry silk and has a contrasting border and pallu. These have elegant borders which are broad and have different colors and patterns than the body. The Kanchi sari is the heaviest among all silk saris. The cost of these saris starts from 25,000Rs and can go up to 4,00000 Rs depending on the work, designs, and materials used.
Mulberry silk is the finest and highest quality of the silk available in the whole world. The products made from 100% pure mulberry silk are most luxurious and durable. The mulberry silk adds luster and shine to the sari. The pure white in color and with long fibers is more refined than other silks and has superior quality. Mulberry silk is 100% natural and hypoallergenic. Therefore it is healthy and safe for the people having allergies. It gives a pleasant mood and aesthetic feeling.
Kanchipuram is northeast and coastal district of Tamil Nadu state of India. Even in ancient text, in Sangam literature, there is a mention of artistic weaving of silk clothes by skilled weavers (1 B.C-6 Ad). The taxes collected from weavers is also found the mention in Vilavatti inscription(575AD-600AD).
Handloom weaving has become the main occupation of the residents of the district and Kanchipuram silk saree is what the district is famous for. The rich knowledge of weaving Kanchi saris are passed from one generation to the next generation. So for the people of Kanchipuram hand weaving is not just a way of earning a livelihood but it has also become part of their cultural life.
The weavers of Kanchi sari are believed to be descendants of sage Markand. Sage Markand is believed to be master weaver for the Gods. There are around 5000 weaving families. Around 45000 weavers are engaged in this beautiful piece of handwoven art. The weavers mostly belong to Padma and Pattu saliyar communities. All processes like silk weaving, warping, spinning, and dyeing are performed by local weavers. Kanchipuram is specialized in making Murukku Pattu heavy sari.
The town is known for thousands of temples with unique architectural beauty and also for its richest silk. Centuries ago these sarees were woven in the temples. Many dynasties ruled this region since ancient time and patronized art and architecture. It was the famous king of Chola dynasty, Krishna Devaraya who especially took interest in promoting Kanchipuram silk. The city has a rich cultural heritage and economy is supported by the handloom industry and tourism.
Therefore, the motifs and designs on the sari are inspired by the temples and other different artworks of India. For example, we also find the designs of the Warli paintings on the sari. Warli painting is a tribal art of Maharashtra state of India. The hand painting of Kalamkari art is used to make various designs. In Kalamkari art the designs are made by hands using pen and are the famous artwork of Andhra Pradesh.
So, Kanchi saris incorporate various fine traditional arts of India which make it rich and glorious. In this way, Kanchi sari is also helping in preservation and promotion of the folk arts of India and at the same time, new innovations and experiments on designs are being implemented to meet the latest trends.
The designs are inspired by the sculptures of the temples, religious texts, and natural elements. These sarees show stories from Mahabharat, Ramayana, Gita and other ancient texts. Gopuram, Rudraksham, Mayilkan, and Kuyilkan are best-known patterns of the border. The designs used in traditional saris are temple borders, checks, stripes, and different flowers. The common motifs used in sari are peacocks, parrots, chariots, lions, leaves, sun, moon etc.
Sarees are now available in so many colors and have border and pallu in contrasting colors with heavy gold weaving. The latest Kanchipuram Pattu sari also has patterns of kundans, crystals, and beads. Nowadays the computerized jacquard borders are also used. The time required to weave one saree of six yards by single weaver is around 20 days. The earlier sari versions had a size of 9 yards.
The saris are hand woven from pure mulberry silk. The traditional sari is woven in throw shuttle pit loom using Adai technique. The Korvai technique is used to make border while Petni for pallu. The contrast border is woven using three shuttles for both side border and one shuttle for the body. 2 ply silk threads in the wrap and 3 ply in weft are used.
The mulberry silk comes from south India(Karnataka) while gold and silver zari is brought from Gujrat. The tough silk gives luster and smooth touch to the sari. The heavy silk is used to make unique hand- made wonderful Kanchipuram saree. Although the dye which is used in saree is not produced in the district and brought from other regions. They are also known for rich gold borders and dense brocades. Rice starch locally known as Kanji is used to give stiffness and thickness to the yarn.
The embroidery is work also done according to the demand of latest fashion era. Even ancient paintings and images of deities or Gods are also used to make pallus beautiful. In the true Kanchipuram sarees, the designs and colors of the body are different from that of pallu. Pallu is separately woven and then smoothly joined (stitched) to the body. The meeting line looks like in a zig-zag fashion. Trimmings can be noticed in the joining. The interlocking of threads in the borders can also be seen easily. The border and body are interlocked strongly so that even if sari tears the borders will not detach from the body.
The Kanchipuram saris are facing throat cut competition from polyester power loom sarees due cheap and lightweight. This power-loom saree which is called Apoorva locally is made in Karnataka. There is an increasing demand of consumers for a low price, simple designs and light colors so appropriate changes are made to meet the expectations. A blending of silk and cotton is also done to produce the body. Sometimes the body is made in cotton threads while border in silk threads. Now the light zari is used to lower the cost. Many other articles like furnishings, churidar sets, silk bed sheets, pillow covers are also made from Kanchi silk for diversification of the market.
In the northern states of India Kanchi sari face competition from Banarasi sari. In these states, there is demand for more ornamentation, lightweight and more intricate designs which Banarasi sari offers .
The silk weaving is also carried on other parts of the state like Rasipuram, Mannarkudi, Kumbakonam, and Arni with the same technics used in making Kanchipuram sari. But they are lighter than the sari of original Kanchipuram sari.
Due to the high cost of the sari, most people want to feel it before buying. While buying Kanchi sari some precautions should be taken by the consumers so that they cannot be cheated by fake sellers. Buying from original producers is a good consumer choice. Buying directly from weavers also cost slightly less than the other sellers.
For the authenticity purpose, it was given a GI tag in 2005-06. Anyone selling fakes saris can be booked under the GI Act. The authentic saree has pre-defined standards regarding weight and zari and moreover, the saree should have produced in the Kanchipuram region only. According to standards zari should have 57% silver and 0.6% gold in it. The silk mark organization symbol can be checked for an authentic sari.