Shatipedia – The Sari Encyclopedia


Kanchipuram – A Torch-bearer of the glorious Dravidian Heritage

The city of a thousand temples, Kanchipuram is one of the seven sacred cities of India. This city was the Historical Capital of the Pallavas, the Cholas and the Vijayanagar rulers. While many of the temples depict the beautiful work of Pallavas and Cholas, the remains of a few Buddhist stupas bear testimony that Buddhism also prevailed here. Kanchipuram has been a centre for Tamil learning and Culture for centuries and a torch-bearer of the glorious Dravidian Heritage. Kanchipuram also renowned as the “Silken Paradise” is world renowned for the gorgeous hand-woven silk sarees of myriad rich colours, noted for their shine, finish and matchless beauty. The exquisite silk sarees are woven from pure mulberry silk in contrasting colours and have an enviable reputation for lustre, durability and finish. They reflect a weaving and dyeing tradition hundreds of years old and whose riches the handloom lovers seek world over.

Kanchipuram Silk and Cotton Sarees

Considered amongst the oldest weaving hubs of the country, the history of Kanjeevaram handloom weaving dates back to the Sangam period.Infact there are legends which state that the weavers in Kanchipuram are the descendents of the sage Markanda, the Master Weaver of Gods. The major weaving communities of Kanchipuram are the Devangas and the Saligars believed to have migrated many years ago from Andhra Pradesh. Noted for their texture, glimmer, permanence and refinement, the weaving traditions of Kanchipuram sarees are quite unique. Woven using the 4 ply technique where four pure mulberry silk threads are used to make a single thread which is then used to weave a silk saree, making of kanchipuram sarees is intricate and time consuming. This along with the use of real silver zari makes them the torch bearers of royalty and aristocracy and an integral part of occasions like weddings and celebrations in India.

The process of weaving a Kanjeevaram Saree:

A typical Kanchipuram silk saree is known for its distinguished characteristics of heavy weight coupled with classic colours and rich zari border and pallu. Two types of warps are used for manufacturing Silk sarees viz. Jari warp of 2 ply 2 fold threads and Jodupuri warp of 2 ply threads. Zari thread consists of coloured silk thread as core wrapped with flattened silver wire with gold plating. These silk sarees are well known for inter woven lace work and its lusture, which are the dexterity of the dyer and weaver in bringing the lusture and design respectively.There are few pre preparations to be done before weaving process. The processes are warp loading, punch card loading and weaving.

Warp Loading:
The loom setting activity is done before weaving process. The yarn after warping is prepared into warp sheets by rolling the length of yarn to an iron rod. The process of transferring the warp sheet into weavers beam is called beaming. In this process the strands of yarn passes through the reeds and healds. This is done by joining each silk strand to the old warp threads manually. It takes nearly 2-3 days to complete the joining process. Generally women folk perform the joining process.

Punch Card Making and Loading:
Technology is also a part in the production of silk saris. The automated design process has replaced the traditional design process. The image of the motif is first scanned and then it is traced and filled with bitmaps. Finally the image is transferred to the punch cards. Now the punch cards are attached in the form of a chain and loaded into the jacquard machine to start weaving. This automated process is simple and time saving.

Weaving in Handlooms:
Weaving is done on the fly shuttle pit looms. The weaver interlaces the silk threads of weft and warp. The shuttle passes through the opens formed when the pedal is operated to interlock the threads of warp and the weft. Once the shuttle is passed, the suspended rope from jacquard is pulled to form the weave. The proton of woven cloth is wounded to the wooden beam which is in front of the weaver. After weaving of 6 meters of weft, the portion of unwoven warp is intentionally left before and after the sari weaving which is later knotted for fringe. Thus the weaving is completed; the unwoven stands are cut out with a small metal blade and sari is folded in traditional manner ready to be sold.

The Kanchipuram silk saree is unique in many ways. The main features among them are Korvai and Petni.  Korvai is the technique of joining the border to body of the saree [Single/ double sided border]. Petni processis nothing but the process of mending the Pallu portion of warp with the existing portion of the body in each saree. This involves mending of all the warp threads in the body portion of the saree, which counts to few thousands.The Kanchipuram silk sarees are popular for their technical excellence and novelty of their designs. Even though traditional methods of weaving are adopted by weavers, they have tried to keep pace with the changing preferences and tastes. To reduce the cost of production weavers manufacture sarees with borders on only one side with delicate designs. The popular designs in the border are brick, birds, animals, leaf, mango, sovereign etc., The colours used are vibrant one that evoke interest. The most popular colours used are blue, black, green and mustered.  However, of late lighter shades are also quite popular.

Watch a Kanchipuram saree being woven:

Reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBcnyB-BbQQ

Kanjeevaram, a Bride’s Pride:


Reference: http://www.silkmarkindia.com/blog/?p=89



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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.