The Royal Kanjeevaram Sarees also named as Kanchipuram sarees have their origin in Kanchi the city of a thousand temples on the north-eastern coast of Tamil Nadu,India. It was also once the capital of the famous Pallava kings. The city’s present day claim to fame, however, is the fact that it is the cradle of the world famous sarees that are exclusively made here. This is what has earned Kanchi the sobriquet of ‘The Silk City’. Such is the grandeur and aura exuded by Kanchipuram silk sarees that they form an integral part of every girl’s trousseau. A trousseau is often considered incomplete till a Kanjeevaram sits proudly atop all other gifts.
History of Kanchipuram Silk Sarees:
Silk weaving in Kanchipuram is believed to have gained prominence during the reign of Krishna Deva Raya, one of the most famous rulers of the Vijayanagara Empire. When the Saligars and Devangas – two reputed weaving communities decided to migrate to Kanchipuram from Andhra Pradesh, silk weaving in Kanchipuram soared to new heights. Silk was, and continues to be the traditional attire for many a religious ceremony in Southern India.
Often known as the Silk City, Kanchipuram has been producing the finest silk sarees for more than four hundred years. With a permanent settlement of over five thousand weaving families, the main source of income is through weaving and exports.
Distinguishing Feature of Kanchipuram Sarees:
Kanchipuram silk sarees come in a wide array of colours, textures and designs.What sets Kanchipuram silk sarees apart from others is the use of heavy silk for weaving, the use of bold and bright colours, generous use of zari (gold and silver thread) and a predominance of bird and animal motifs.
A geographical indication (GI) is a name or sign used on certain products which corresponds to a specific geographical location or origin. The use of a GI may act as a certification that the product possesses certain qualities, is made according to traditional methods, or enjoys a certain reputation, due to its geographical origin. Kanchipuram Sarees have GI label for the product since 2005.Classification as a Kanjeevaram Sari, needs the Geographical Indication (GI) stipulation, that the decorative zari must have at least 57% silver and 0.6% gold in it, be followed in word and detail.
Weaving of Kanchipuram Sarees:
Kanchipuram silk sarees are among the sturdiest and most beautiful woven fabric in India. Each silk thread used to weave the saree, consists of three single threads twisted together. This is what makes silk sarees from Kanchipuram so strong and long lasting.
Most of the zaris used today come from Surat (Gujarat, India)The ‘zari’ work of the saree, is created through a delicate process where the silk thread is twisted with silver wire to provide extra strength. The thread is then dipped in molten gold and used in weaving intricate motifs and patterns. Silk threads are dyed in several colors and then dried in the sun after being dipped in rice water to retain its color. As Kanchipuram silk sarees are made out of the purest mulberry silk, the texture, finesse and strength provided by these sarees are unparalleled.
The weaving style of kanjeevaram saree is totally different.Kancheevaram sarees are weaved using the Korvai technique. A Korvai saree’s border and pallu are of the same colour, and are in bright contrast to the “body”.The border and ‘pallu’ of the saree are woven separately and are then attached to the remaining fabric to complete the saree.
To weave a kanchipuram saree, three devices are used i.e., shuttles. While the weaver works on the right side, his assistant works on the left side shuttle. Kanchipuram sarees will have wider borders, the design and the border are quite different from the body of the saree. We may have a saree in different shades on the body, pallu, and border.
If pallu has to be woven in different shades, then it is first separately woven and then deliciously joined to the saree. Here the body and pallu meets at one place and that place is covered by a zigzag line.
A Kanjeevaram Silk Sari could take two to three weavers working simultaneously, anywhere from a week to a fortnight to complete a Saree. The time taken depends upon the uniqueness and intricacy of the design to be incorporated in the motif.
Kanchipuram Silk Sarees Motifs:
Multiple color combinations and exquisite designs are used in kanchipuram sarees that looks great on occasions.Kanchipuram sarees are woven with different patterns like flowers, mangoes, moons, suns, lions, leaves, birds like parrots, butterflies, peacocks and others.
The pallu (the loose end which is draped over the shoulder) and borders carry patterns of rows of deer, peacocks, galloping horses, bulls, elephants, parrots, swans and such other birds. Pallava temples, palaces and paintings are depicted. Scenes from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, along with tribal designs and the paisleys are also being used as motifs.
Caring for Kanjeevaram Sarees:
These timeless pieces of art are usually passed down from mother to daughter down the generations. They should, as such, be handled with utmost care. Careful folding and wrapping after use add to a saree’s life in years while machine wash could tatter the delicate silk and zari into smithereens.
How to Recognise a Genuine Kanjeevaram Saree:
Keep this check list in mind when you go Kancheevaram saree shopping, and you definitely won’t go wrong!
- Always ask for a genuine hand-woven six yards saree.A regular Kancheevaram saree weighs between 500 grams and 1 kg, because of the intricate weave using “double warp” thread, the broader width (48 inches), and the pure, gold-dipped zari.
- Kancheevaram sarees are registered and patented.Always look for the GI label.
- If you still have doubts you could take a silk thread out of the saree and burn it. If it turns to ashes it’s pure silk and if melts it’s fake.
Kanjivaram Silk Sarees have always been the trademark of Indian tradition.This traditional wear has captured the imagination of fashionable ladies of Bollywood. Bollywood actresses of the South prefer to have several Kanjivaram Silk Sarees in their wardrobe. The trend of Kanjivaram Silk Sarees is at peak nowadays. Famous actresses like Rekha,Hema Malini,Vidya Balan,Shilpa Shetty,Aishwarya Rai and many others have opted to wear Kanchipuram Sarees for their public appearances and this charm of this traditional sarees seems to be never ending.Kanjeevaram Sarees (Kancheevaram Sarees) have gold dipped silver thread in it that is woven on a rich thick quality silk. These bridal sarees speak out a lot about the 150 years old weaving history.
Here is our latest Kanjivaram Saree designs photo collection