KANJEEVARAM SILK SAREE
Kanjeevaram silk saree is a magnificent creation of the craftsmen living in a small town, Kanchi (Kanchipuram), situated near the Bangalore city of South India. The saree has been named after the town in which it is produced. The silk used in the creation of Kanjivaram saree is extremely fine as well as durable and is one of the most popular forms of silk in the state of Tamil Nadu. The bold and bright color of the sari is very much preferred by the South Indian women, whose trousseau remains incomplete without this amazing outfit. The Kanjeevaram sari is not only the choice for weddings in South India and elsewhere but also worn at all other auspicious and religious occasions. The Kanjeevaram sari is a tradition often passed on from mother to daughter over several generations as an heirloom in much the same way they might pass on jewellery or diamonds. A Kanjeevaram sari is made to last a lifetime.
Kanchipuram has been weaving silk sarees for the past 150 years and specialises in a heavy silk sari woven with tightly twisted three-ply, high-denier threads using thick zari threads for supplementary – wrap and — weft patterning. Interlocked-weft borders are common. Along with silk sarees, Kanchipuram also specialises in cotton and silk-polyster blended sarees with the demand of the current market.
Many of today’s established Kanchipuram Silk weavers trained in the cultural centre of “Kalakshetra” during the 1970’s producing sarees with designs that are some what ‘heavy’ in both style and fabric weight, with very wide bordes. Traditional motifs such as, mango, elephant, peacock, diamond, lotus, pot, creeper, flower, parrot, hen, and depiction of stories from mythology are very common in Kanchipuram sarees. Cotton sarees are ornamented with threads and some silk sarees are also woven with thread instead of pure zari.
FABRIC IN KANJEEVARAM SAREE
The Kanjeevaram sari is made of a heavy silk called Kanjivaram silk, so durable that it can be washed in water at home. It is one of the most finest and most popular forms of silk in Tamilnadu. Kanjee silk is thicker than almost all other silks, and is therefore more expensive. The heavier the silk, the better the quality. While there are light weight Kanjee sarees made from Korean and Chinese silk, only mulberry silk produced in Karnataka and few parts of Tamil Nadu, is right silk for the classic Kanjeevaram sari.
Kanjeevaram silk sarees are always of bold and bright colour contrasts, favoured by almost every Indian woman. Some common designs woven on the saree are as follows:
- Peacock and parrot are the most common motifs.
- Major attractions are the also beautiful tribal designs.
- Now focus is also on contemporary patterns.
- These are sarees of vivid colour contrasts with traditional patterns derived from the Pallava temples, palaces and paintings.
- You will also find scenes from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata and Bhagwad Gita being incorporated into these works of art.
- A decorative saree contains Zari interwoven with the silk; the ‘zari’ work in the border and the Pallu are generally woven in gold-dipped silver threads. The more the Zari the more expensive you can expect the sari to be.
- The sarees can also be a plain silk saree.
- There can also be little gold motifs scattered all over its body.
- There are also sarees with gold squares or stripes.
EXTRACTION OF SILK
Kanchipuram silk is hand woven from mulberry silk thread, generated by the silkworms, feeding on mulberry leaves. In fact, the skilled artisans of Kanchipuram town, who are engaged in sericulture, rear the silkworms in cane baskets, filled with plenty of mulberry leaves as the food-provision. Daily fresh mulberry leaves are fetched from the nearby mulberry plantation. These leaves are pieced into bits, and distributed evenly inside the basket. Gradually, with time, after many weeks, the worms start maturing. At this stage they are re-installed inside circular, baskets, with inner compartmental sections. Here the worms start ejecting thread-like secretion, which construct around themselves a semi-transparent cocoon. And from this cocoon, silk-thread is derived. It is this numerous strands of silk tread, which consist of the silk fabric of Kanchipuram. The smooth, glazy and supple quality of the fabric, contribute to the dazzling aura, associated with the saree.
The creation of a Kanjeevaram sari is no easy task. The process begins with the the silk thread being twisted, then dyed and dried in the sun after which it is ready for the weaver’s loom. The weaver creates the border, body and pallu separately and then interlocks them together in an impossible to detach joint. A weaver takes about 10-12 days to weave a simple Kanjeevaram sari while decorative ones could take up to 20 days. his sari is made in parts; the body, border and the pallu are made separately, and then they are interlocked together. The motifs used on these saris are mostly figures of animals and birds like peacocks, deer, elephants, swans etc. Scenes from great Indian Epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana, and even The Bhagwad Gita are also woven to make special pieces.Now days, sarees are increasingly woven on mechanical looms and made of artificial fibers such as nylon or rayon and many other fabrics which do not require starching or ironing.