The Magic of Kanchipuram Silk Sarees
Kanchipuram Sarees for the Beautiful Women
The famous Kanchipuram silk saree is a traditionally a handwoven saree made out of mulberry silk, made in the bylanes of the town of Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu, India. Kanchipuram has magnificent temples featured by distinct architecture and is also known as the ‘City of thousand temples’. Historically, the origin of the Kanchipuram Silk can be traced back to around 400 years during the reign of King Krishna Deva- Raya of the Chola Dynasty, when two major weaving communities of Andhra Pradesh- the Devangas and the Saligars, migrated to this town. The rich temple culture and the use and practice of wearing silk in rituals, weddings and ceremonies in this quaint old town is said to be the reason why the weaver communities settled here. These two weaving communities were, and still are, exclusively acknowledged worldwide for their skills at weaving silk.
Kanchipuram Silk Sarees are popularly referred to as the ‘Queen of Sarees’ because of their lustre, durability, and glimmer from the exquisite zari work. Worn across all ages for all kinds of functions and ceremonies, they form a much desired part of an Indian Bride’s trousseau and are often passed down generations. Usually, the quality of the sari is graded based on how heavy the sari is. The heavier the sari, the better the quality. This sari is best described as a lustrous silk sari with zari work. Zari is metallic thread usually made from gold or silver and interwoven with the silk to create various motifs. Traditionally, motifs for Kanchipuram Sari are heavily drawn from the style and architecture of the Pallava Dynasty- their temples, palaces and paintings. However, nowadays, even scenes from great Indian Epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata can be seen. With passage of time, one can also see use of tribal and contemporary motifs. Some common and favourite traditional motifs are – jasmine bud within a square or a round frame, locally known as mallimaggu, or Thandavalam where parallel lines run across the body of the Saree.
Making of a Kanchipuram Silk Saree
The carefully processed and prepared mulberry silk thread in the chosen color is selected for the Saree. The silk used in Kanchipuram saree is is of the finest quality, one that is not cut or broken. Moreover, the silk yarn is a “double warp”, i.e., each “thread” is actually made up of three single threads twisted together which makes it more durable and heavier than other silk sarees. The interesting thing about Kanchipuram Saree is that the weaver first creates the border, body and the pallu of the sari separately and then interlocks them tightly to create one piece. A weaving technique known as ‘korvai’ is followed where the exquisite border and pallu of the saree are a different color than main body of the saree. Atleast two workers are required to make a Kanchipuram following the techniques of hree-shuttle weaving and interlocking weft. A simple Kanchipuram saree can take upto 10-12 days and a more decorative one can take around 20 days to prepare. The cost of the saree also depends on the amount of zari interwoven into the saree. More Zari means more expensive the saree. Dry cleaning is always the preferred method for maintaining a good silk saree.
The art of weaving an authentic Kanchipuran Silk Saree has been has been passed down as an inheritance from the very first weavers handpicked by King Rajaraja Chola to weave these Saris, down to the present generation of weavers operating the 20,000 odd number of handlooms in the Kanchi district. Since 2005, Kanchipuram Silk has been granted a GI (Geographical Indication) status for its protection. Thus, for an authentic Kanchipuram silk made in Kanchi district of Tamil Nadu, India one must look for the GI label certifying the origin of the Sari.
Draping and Accessorizing
A Kanchipuram Silk Saree was traditionally a 9 yard sari that represented the culture of designing and patterning temple stories. Over a period of time, these sarees were converted to 6 yards with gold zari weaving which can be draped in the normal way. One must start with the end of the sari opposite to the bright coloured Pallu and start wrapping the sari around around the waist. The pleats of the saree are positioned along the left leg and the rest of the sari is taken over the left shoulder, wrapped once again round the waist and tucked on the left side.
A Kanchipurn silk is definitely the ‘Queen of silks’ and possession of such a silk, which has been traditionally bequeathed down generations of women in a family, is indeed a very desirable addition to anyone’s closet.