Shatipedia – The Sari Encyclopedia

Chanderi Sarees-


Chanderi Sarees

Alongside being a darling to every cotton-saree lover, a pure handloom Chanderi saree is representative of India’s rich handloom tradition. The incredible craftsmanship of local weavers is reflected in tiny zari bootis that sparkle across in large numbers. Peeking into the making of chanderi silk sarees can amaze anyone about the overwhelming weaving work behind. These beautiful sarees that unselfishly smarten up your looks are woven by muslim and hindu weavers in the small town of Chanderi which lies in the Ashok nagar district of Madhya Pradesh. The town also witnesses an inspiring harmony between local muslims and hindus. And it is not only sarees that Chanderi can take pride in, the town is of immense historical importance too. Surrounded by lakes, forests and hills, Chanderi has also been home to Bundela Rajputs and Malwa Sultans

History of Chanderi:

Chanderi is located strategically on the borders of Malwa and Bundelkhand. History of Chanderi goes back to the 11th century, when it was dominated by the trade routes of Central India and was proximate to the arterial route to the ancient ports of Gujarat as well as to Malwa, Mewar, Central India and the Deccan. Consequently, Chanderi became an important military outpost. The town also finds mention in Mahabharata. Shishupal was the king of Chanderi during the Mahabharata period.

Chanderi is mentioned by the Persian scholar Alberuni in 1030. Ghiyasud din Balban captured the city in 1251 for Nasirud din Mahmud, Sultan of Delhi. Sultan Mahmud I Khilji of Malwa captured the city in 1438 after a siege of several months. In 1520 Rana Sanga of Mewar captured the city, and gave it to Medini Rai, a rebellious minister of Sultan Mahmud II of Malwa. The Mughal Emperor Babur captured the city from Medini Rai and witnessed the macabre Rajput rite of jauhar, in which, faced with certain defeat and in an attempt to escape dishonor in the hands of the enemy, women with children in their arms jumped in a fire pit to commit suicide,which was made for this specific purpose,against the background of vedic hymns recited by the priests. Jauhar was performed during the night and in the morning the men would rub the ashes of their dead women folk on their forehead,don a saffron garment known as kesariya, chewtulsi leaves (in India tulsi leaves are placed in the mouth of a dead body),symbolizing their awareness about impending death and resolve to fight and die with honour. This method of fighting & dying for the cause of retaining honour was called “SAKA”.

In 1540 it was captured by Sher Shah Suri, and added to the governorship of Shujaat Khan. The Mughal Emperor Akbar made the city a sarkar in the subah of Malwa. According to Ain-e-Akbari, the autobiography of Akbar, Chanderi had 14000 stone houses and boasted of 384 markets, 360 sapcious caravan sarais (resting place) and 12,000 mosques.

The Bundela Rajputs captured the city in 1586, and it was held by Ram Sab, a son of Raja Madhukar of Orchha. In 1680 Devi Singh Bundela was made governor of the city, and Chanderi remained in the hands of his family until it was annexed in 1811 by Jean Baptiste Filose for the Maratha ruler Daulat Rao Sindhia of Gwalior. The city was transferred to the British in 1844. The British lost control of the city during the Revolt of 1857, and the city was recaptured by Sir Hugh Rose on 14 March 1858. Richard Harte Keatinge led the assault, for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross. The city was transferred back to the Sindhias of Gwalior in 1861, and became part of Isagarh District of Gwalior state.


Places of Attraction:

  • Koshak Mahal
  • Shehzaadika Rauza
  • Parmeshwar Tal
  • Lakshman Temple
  • Jain Temples
  • Pranpur – Weavers’ hub

The process of weaving a Gadwal Saree:


Two types of designing are done in the case of Chanderi weaving. One is the main

Design for the sari itself that contains various aspects like the border, the kind of

motifs to be used, color combinations, etc. This is usually provided by the ordering

party. This procedure is informal in the case of the local dealer but in the case of the

big trading houses, a laminated paper with the design, the threads to be used and

the location of motifs, etc., are provided to the weaver as a sample.

The other is the more exquisite motif or booti designing which is done by the master

weaver on a graph paper. This is provided to the weaver depending on the terms of

the order.


Dyeing is an important part of the whole process, as both cotton and silk require dyeing before they can be used on the loom. The process of dyeing is normally carried out by specialized technicians who work for the dealer and are paid by him. There are different kinds of dyes for coloring silk and cotton. For cotton,a ready made fast color dye is used while for silk special dyes called Sando Silk are used which are also ready made dyes.

The process of dyeing starts with dissolving the ready made fast color dye in warm water. The threads are dipped into this solution and left for a while before being taken out. Depending on the quality of the dye, they are dipped into the solution again for some time. After this they are washed in with plain water and then soaked in a solution of warm water, detergent and soda. Finally, the threads are washed once more and hung on bamboo poles to dry. Once they are dry, they are sent back to the weavers for further processing.

Yarn opening for Weft:

After dyeing the yarn is normally received by the weavers in the form of bundles. Both in the case of the weft and the warp, the thread needs to be disentangled and stretched in order to make it tighter. It is taken through a process of reeling by using acharkha and thus the bundles of thread are converted into small rolls called bobbins.


Chanderi artisans use the older system of preparing the warp roll. Upon receiving the roll of silk thread from the agent, they open and stretch it. Three to four people are normally required for this process. The threads are adjusted on two iron hooks plugged into the ground. Since silk threads are very delicateand there are always chances of them getting entangled with each other in this process,therefore, they are made to pass through two parallel, thin bamboo sticks which are almost as long as the warp roll itself. The ends of the threads are tied to the warp roll at the desired interval that the weaver wants to keep between the two threads of the warp. This is normally three to four inches. Thus the threads are

distributed evenly on the taana roll log. After this, the bundle is stretched to about 15 to 20 feet and after every six to seven feet the threads are tied to the bamboo sticks through which they are passing, so that they don’t get entangled. Using a rod passing through the taana roll log, the log is rolled to wind the threads on it. The threads are wound on the roll till they reach the bamboo sticks. Aftert his, they are untied from the bamboo sticks and the bamboo sticks are again tied at a distance of six to seven feet from the taanalog. The whole process is repeated till the log is finished.


The process of weaving starts by placing the warp roll at the extreme end of the loom from the position of the weaver. The threads are then attached to the threads coming out from the rucch (left over from the previous weaving work). The length of the warp is 50 meters and the width of the weft is 48 inches. After this, the weaver gets involved in three different actions simultaneously. With her right hand she operates the string that provides motion to the shuttle carrying the bobbin of the weft across the threads of the warp.With her left hand, she provides an up and down motion to the heavy wooden frame of the loom that falls on the threads of the warp and weft to provide them with their respective places in the cloth.With both her legs she provides the motion to the rucch which helps the threads of the warp to interlock, taking the weft threads with them. Thus, the process of weaving proceeds with the threads of the warp being interlocked with the weft threads that are being carried across the warp threads through a flying shuttle that is controlled with the movement of the strings in the right hand.The process of weaving is difficult and time-consuming in the case of heavily designed saris which, as a result, are expensive.


After the weaving is completed, the fabric is taken off the loom and sent for cutting. The normal length of a sari is about 5-5.5 yards. It is then folded properly and packed and ready to be marketed. At this stage no ironing or further printing is required.


Interesting News about Chanderi Sarees:

In year 2009, while shooting for the movie 3- idiots, when Amir Khan made Kareena travel 14 hours by road to reach Chanderi, her efforts were rewarded as Aamir gifted her a Rs 25,000 saree from the handloom weavers who they visited. “Kareena was very thrilled when she got the saree from Aamir. It’s a black and gold saree which these weavers used to make for the nawabs and the sarees are traditional.” A source said.



Watch Amir Khan and Kareena Kapoor leave a mark on ChanderiSaree:

Star Power: Chanderi Handloom Goes HighTech

The young generation of weavers from Chanderi, which saw a revival of the traditional handicraft after superstars Aamir Khan and Kareena Kapoor visited their town in December 2009 to promote ‘3 Idiots’, is engaged in innovations such as use of new fibers, prints and computer generated designs to improve the craft.

“In last three years after Aamir Khan and Kareena Kapoor visited us, output of our work has almost doubled,” claimed one of the weavers from Chanderi Mohammad Tabish. He informed that young educated weavers are now getting training of designing on computers at an institute ‘Chanderiyan’ established in the village a couple of years ago.

The computer generated designs are far better in terms of quality than those designed manually,” Tabish admits, showing two different pieces of fabrics. Till now, the weavers used to replicate designs of old fort and other monuments on the saris.

Nowadays, the weavers are experimenting with new styles of printings like Batiq, Kalamkari, Bagh, Dabu, Bagru, Chauranga and block print. The experiments are generating encouraging response from the buyers. Another weaver, who is accompanied Tabish at expo in Indore, claimed that now weavers are using masrise fiber, which is more durable.

“Price range is no constraint as the saris are available for `1500 to `1.5 lakh,” said another weaver Shoaib Ahmed. DilipSoni, an officer from MP Handicraft EvamHathkargha Vikas Nigam Ltd told DNA that the Geographical Indication certification assigned to Chanderi saris three years ago, has helped boost sales by around one-third, adding that experts from renowned institutions like NID and NIFT are invited to train young weavers regularly in Chanderi.


Face to Face–A Day in the Life of a Weaver(AfrozaBaeno – Weaver, Chanderi)




Featured Articles

Six yards of elegance and comfort. That is what a saree is. We don’t think ….


Weaving a eNew Story – The Handloom Weavers of India

About Shatika

Since the dawn of civilization, handlooms have been associated with excellence in India’s artistry in textiles and fabrics, and sari which is considered to be the most ancient piece of clothing has been inspiring generations of artists and craftsmen to weave their dreams and visions into creating exquisite handloom sarees. However with passage of time, just like the clacking sounds of the looms, the dreams and visions of these weaves too are fading away.In an attempt to bring handloom sarees back in vogue, Shatika has begun a revolution; a six yard sari revolution is a humble attempt at bringing back the lost love for handloom sarees. Dedicated to creating a unique interpretation of the age old craft, we travel to all colourful corners of the country visiting weavers,guiding them on the latest trends so they weave out the age old tradition with a modern touch and bring them online so you can savor the delights of hand picking them from the comfort of your homes.