History of The Kanjivaram Silk Saree


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History of The Kanjivaram Silk Saree

History of The Kanjivaram Silk Saree

Indian culture takes immense pride in handwoven fabrics that carry historical stories in every weave. A handwoven saree speaks volumes about Indian handloom heritage and tradition when worn and is a symbol of the Indian identity.

Kanjivaram - The History and Origin

The quintessential Kanjivaram is an affair of love for the women of India. The timeless Kanjivaram silk saree got its name from the temple city of Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu, India. Kanjivaram silk sarees have their origins in Hindu mythology. The Kanchi Silk Weaver is believed to be a descendant of Sage Markanda, the Gods' Master Weaver. The glorious Kanjivaram weave has a history of 400 years and it is said that the two large weaving communities Devangas and Saligars from Andhra Pradesh relocated to Kanchipuram to weave Kanjivaram sarees. It is their weaving skills with which they weaved enchanting designs of temples and mythological scriptures they saw in the city of Kanchipuram. Soon after Kanjivaram sarees became famous they were worn by the royals on important occasions and by brides at their weddings.

The Weave

The vintage weaves of Kanjivaram silk sarees are made from heavy and pure mulberry silk that is dyed in vibrant colours and dipped in rice water and sun-dried to make it thick and stiff before weaving them into a saree. The silk thread is intertwined with fine silver wire and pure gold thread that gives the Zari border its distinctive sheen and strength. The significance of the Kanjivaram silk saree lies in its unique weave, called the korvai weave. 

Typically, three shuttles are used to weave a Kanchipuram sari. A weaving frame with 240 holes in the warp and 60 holes in the weft is used to weave this 6-yards wonder which makes it extremely strong. Another interesting fact about weaving a Kanjivaram silk saree which makes it different from other silk sarees is that the border and the body is weaved separately and then interlocked. The joint weave is so strong that even if the saree tears the border will not detach. The mundhi (part of the saree that falls over the shoulder) if has to be in a different shade, is woven separately and is attached using a zigzag stitch. A kanjivaram saree can be up to 2 kg heavy.

Design and Varieties

Kanjivaram sarees are distinguished by the broad borders that are in contrasting colours to the body of the saree. The designs on a kanjivaram saree are usually inspired by scriptures from the temples of Kanchipuram and South India which include temples, stripes, checks, florals, animals, the sun, and the moon. They also have motifs and patterns that depict mythological stories that are minutely detailed adding charm to their beauty. 

There are different varieties of Kanjivaram sarees. Initially, they were woven in a length of 9 yards, which now is reduced to 6 yards for practical reasons. The Zari work made of gold and silver is replaced with metal and copper to make it cost-effective and affordable for everyone. The different types of Kanjivaram include Thread Brocade Kanjivaram, Pattupettu Kanjivaram, Korvai Kanjivaram, Without Border Kanjivaram, Checked Kanjivaram, Traditional Kanjivaram, Zari Brocade Kanjivaram, and the Classic Kanjivaram

Kanjivaram sarees come in a range of beautiful shades and hues that are a treat to the eyes.

Geographical Indication

The government of Tamil Nadu applied and got Kanchipuram recognized as a Geographical Indication from the Government of India in the year 2006.

Kanjivaram - A Legacy

How many times have you been mesmerized by seeing a woman beautifully gracing a Kanjivaram? The Kanjivaram silk sarees, till today, are an essential part of a woman’s wardrobe and are an integral part of divine occasions. In India gold is considered a symbol of purity, wealth, and power, and the amalgamation of silk with gold in the weaving of a Kanjivaram saree makes it an undisputable legacy. It is not just for the love of silk sarees but the tales of the hands of weavers who put in labor and craftmanship and carry the history and tradition so beautifully for centuries that makes Kanjivaram a possession to behold. 

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