Origin of Kanjeevaram Sarees
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. The Kanjeevaram saree has got its name, after the little temple town called Kanchipuram, 76 kms away from Chennai (earlier called Madras) in Tamil Nadu.
History of Kanjeevaram Sarees
Settled in the small town of Kanchipuram, the famous Kanjeevaram saree weave goes back 400 years. It was during the reign of Krishna Devaraya from the Vijayanagara Empire that the art really took off. Two major weaving communities of Andhra Pradesh, the Devangas and Saligars migrated to the town of Kanchipuram. They used their excellent weaving skills to make the silk saree that bore images of scriptures and figurines found on the temples around the village.
Significance of Kanjeevaram Sarees
The heritage of Indian textile is displayed by the Kanjeevaram Sarees and the peerless craftsmanship, the beauty and grandeur of the gold thread work, quaint motifs are typical designs for what the sarees are sought after. These sarees have been closely associated with ceremonial occasions since time immemorial. The intricate designs of these sarees with golden threads and the fabric used have enhanced the beauty of the sarees and have made them the most coveted among all from the commencement period of this saree.
Production of Kanchipuram 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. The worms start ejecting thread-like secretion, which construct around themselves a semi-transparent cocoon from which the 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.
Weaving of Kanjeevaram Sarees
Kanjeevaram sarees are made conjoining three threads. The Kanjeevaram saree is made of a heavy pure mulberry silk called Kanchipuram silk. It is one of the finest and most popular forms of silk in Tamil Nadu. While the silk belongs to South India, the pure gold and silver zari comes from Gujarat.
The weavers create exclusive Kanjeevaram sarees with twisting the threads, then dyeing them and drying in the sun. After drying, the weaver starts weaving the sarees. The weaver creates the border, body and pallu separately and then interlocks them together to give the saree a complete look. This complete task takes about 10-12 days for completion and then designs are created on the sarees.
Design and Patterns in Kanjeevaram Sarees
Pure Zari embroidery and patterns happen to be the hallmark of Kanchipuram silk. By Zari, one means, a silver thread electro-plated with gold. The magnificent Zari is interleaved into the yarn, to weave diverse cultural motifs, and images of flora or fauna. Including these, the patterns of these sarees exhibit extensive usage of bird and animal motifs and the rich gold-brocaded pallus and borders had patterns of rows of deer, peacocks, galloping horses, bulls, elephants, parrots, swans and such other birds in stylized abstraction.
The designs of Kanjeevaram Sarees displays the pre-dominance of animal characters basically peacock and parrot. Apart from these, the Kanjeevaram Sarees are intricately designed with beautiful tribal designs, traditional patterns derived from the Pallava temples, palaces and paintings. Even scenes from Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagwad Gita are incorporated into the intricate designing technique. Sometimes, little gold motifs are seen scattered in all over the body of the saree including contemporary patterns.
The traditional and ethnic look of the Kanjeevaram Sarees has upgraded them to one of the most elegant sarees of India.