The opulent Kanjeevaram sarees trace their origin back to the town of Kanchi, or Kanchipuram, situated in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. This is where Kanjeevaram sarees, also called Kanchipuram sarees, derive their name. The silk that is woven into the Kanjeevaram sarees is of a very fine quality and has a very soft, luxurious feel.
Traditional paisley motif in a Kanjeevaram saree
The popularity of this saree has surged in the current times due to its durability. The grandeur of the silk, coupled with the strength of the fabric, has made this saree a must-have for any bride. Any South Indian bridal trousseau remains incomplete without a bright coloured Kanjeevaram saree. The pallu of the saree is usually a show-stopper, being the main point of attraction in the saree. Usually, the pallu is heavily embroidered with zari, while the rest of the saree is kept relatively simple.
Kanjeevaram as a part of bridal trousseau
A variety of coloured threads lend charm to the exquisite pieces. In combination with golden zari embroidery, these sarees redefine luxury. The use of gold-dipped silver zari is also prevalent, in order to drastically reduce the manufacturing cost of the saree, while maintaining the look and feel of the fabric. The motifs used in these Kanjeevaram sarees are generally inspired from the Pallava architecture – the palaces, the temples and the paintings.
L: Traditional Kanjeevaram attire
R: Intricate motifs without gold zari
A regular Kanjeevaram saree takes anywhere between 10 to 12 days for completion while the more elaborate ones require about 20 days of toil. The most elaborate Kanjeevaram sarees may even take up to 6 months due to the intricacy of the technique. The cost of the saree is primarily dependent upon the amout of gold zari that has been woven into it.
Geometrical motifs in the zari border
Though most Indian regional weaving techniques have witnessed a gradual decline in demand with the passage of time, the popularity of Kanjeevaram silk sarees has remained high. It is one of the very few techniques that have remained intact in the face of dying art forms.
Kanjeevaram with striped zari border
Images: Subam Textiles, Alayam Inspiration, Indiamart, Janubaba