Kanchipuram silk sarees - Indian Cultural Master Piece Attire

Kanchipuram silk sarees get their name from the city of Kanchi or Kanchipuram. The city of a thousand temples, it is a small speck on the north-eastern coast of Tamil Nadu. One of the seven sacred cities of India, it also houses the Shankaracharya ‘Math’.

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’. More than 200 families here have been earning their bread and butter weaving magnificent silks since the last 150years, passing on the finest traditions without being swayed by the dictates of modern day fashion. The local produce has a global appeal, and the finest produces are lapped up by connoisseurs from even across the Indian shores. These sarees are a tribute to the timeless appeal of Indian traditions and culture and the essence of womanhood.

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. 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.

Kanchipuram silk sarees come in a wide array of colours, textures and designs. While a simple saree would require 10-12 days to make, a saree with intricate workmanship might need upto a month in the making! This is because each Kanjeevaram masterpiece is handmade and entails arduous work. The making of every artifact begins with preparing the silk thread used for weaving manually- twisting the thread, dying it and sun-drying it. Not only these, the border, the body and the pallu have to be woven separately by the weaver and then interlocked together. Zari adds to the grace of the finished product though it also pushes up the price. Keeping the cost factor in mind, plain Kanjeevarams are also now available. Furthermore, it is now possible to ‘order’ a piece of your colour, taste and budget. Plain sarees can be customized with zardosi, kundan, etc. to suit individual tastes and preferences. Real gold is also used for making ‘Pure Kanjeevarams’, though these are usually made as per order. Though they cost a fortune, they are actually worth their worth in gold, literally!!

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. The magnificence and splendor of this heirloom adds to a new bride’s clout in her new sasural and has everyone awe struck. There was a time when one of the many touchstones for gauging the financial status of the new bride’s family would be the number of kanjeevarams she had in her suitcase. Fine kalakaari and the mesmerizing use of zari into labyrinthine patterns and motifs ensure that every masterpiece leaves women hypnotized- its appeal transcends borders of age, region and religious affiliation.

At nine meters, Kanchipuram silk sarees are a little longer than most of its counterparts but the heavy weight of silk makes sure that once it is draped, the pleats stay firmly in place making it easy to carry off this outfit with ease. Accessorized with traditional gold and kundan jewellery, these sarees could have a killer effect. Traditionally crafted necklaces embellished with rubies, sapphires and emeralds matching with the outfit further enhance its appeal. These timeless pieces d’ 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. Never failing to have a bewitching effect because of their magical sheen, these sarees make a woman look and feel glamorous, alluring and proud.

Kanchipuram silk sarees epitomize the ethereality of Indian culture and traditions and will forever find a pride of place in a woman’s wardrobe.

Kanchipuram silk sarees - Indian Cultural Master Piece Attire

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