Kanchipuram silk sarees or Kanchipuram handloom silk sarees are believed to be one of the most superior silk sarees in this world. They are not only beautiful as well as resplendent, they are also expensive. There are all different types of silk sarees being sold in the market. But, if you don’t know on how to identify a pure Kanchipuram silk saree, you can easily be duped by the seller. In this article I will help you to verify the authenticity as well as tell you more about Kanchipuram silk saree.
Kanchipuram is basically a small city that is close to Chennai in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. It is mostly famous for its unique silk saree called Kanchipuram silk saree. Most of the cities population living there are involved in making these silk sarees. This Kanchipuram silk saree industry is today worth for more that $20 million.
Kanchipuram city is also known as one of the seven holiest city, that a Hindu has to visit in his life time. It is named after the presiding deity of Kanchipuram, called Kanch Kamakshi. It is also known as the city of 1000 temples
Kanchipuram Handloom Silk Sarees
Tests To Identify Pure Kanchipuram Silk Saree
Traditionally, Kanchipuram silk sarees have contrasting zari border. This feature distinguishes these sarees from other type of silk sarees that are made in India. Weavers take the silk thread and twist a silver thread over the thread and later dip in pure gold to make the zari border. However, these days, only tested zari is being used. This tested zari is also quite cheaper than the copper wire that is being electroplated with the silver being used instead of the pure silver thread to make the zari. With the amount of silver being used in making the saree is considerably going down, this helps to reduce the cost of the Kanchipuram handloom silk saree. If you are unable to determine the presence of copper, to identify pure Kanchipuram silk saree then it remains a difficult task. However, you can also note difference in between the pure zari saree and a tested zari saree, if you losely examine the colour of the zari work. Many tested zari sarees are being sold at more cheaper price in general to lure the people who want to buy Kanchipuram silk sarees.
Zari Test To Identify Pure Kanchipuram Silk Saree
Try to look out for a loose end of zari in the saree. Pure zari is basically made of red silk thread which is twisted with silver thread and dipped in a 22 carat of pure gold. If by pulling a little, you found out that the zari, thread is not red instead white or any other colour, then you can be certain that the saree you are buying isn’t a pure Kanchipuram silk saree.
Origin and history
The Kanchipuram silk saree, story begins in the Hindu mythology. Some legend say that the Kanchi silk weavers are known to be the descendants of Sage Markanda, who was the master weaver for the Gods themselves.
Settled in a small town of Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu, this famous Kanchipuram saree weaving goes back to the 400 years history. It was back during the reign of Krishna Devaraya, (the Empire of Vijayanagara), from where this art really took off. Two major weaving communities from Andhra Pradesh; the Devangas as well as Saligars migrated towards Kanchipuram. They used their weaving skills to make this silk saree bore the images of the scriptures as well as figurines that are found on the temples all around the village.
Later, it didn’t take much long time for the saree to evolve in a must-wear for women at there traditional ceremonies, like weddings and other festivities, and that practice still continues in South India.
Since, the colour as well as designs of the saree from body, and the pallu are different, weavers weave both of them separately and later eventually join them. You can also spot a zig zag pattern, which is known as pitni, where the body meet the pallu. It is also a common practice to weave the whole border of the saree separately and later joining the three together. The joining of these three is also known as korvai and is done with precision that even if the saree tears, the border may not detach.
Although the zari is made of the three silk threads, that is twisted with the silver wire, the fabric becomes extremely strong as well as durable. This, however, also add to the weight, making it a regular Kanchipuram saree as heavy as two kilos.
Motifs Of Kanchipuran Silk Sarees
Ever since the inception, Kanchipuram handloom silk sarees have always stayed true to its inclusion of temple figurines as well as mythological stories in the design.
The border of the saree mainly comprise of motifs from temples, palaces as well as general paintings, and the body include pyramidal temple checks, designs, stripes as well as floral buttas.
Over many years, the traditional and much preferred motifs are the stripes or golden dot designs which have given way to the symbolic motifs such as animals, fruits, birds, sun and moon, and even sometimes stories from the mythology.
Varieties Of Kachipuram Silk Sarees
Kanchipuram handloom silk sarees are mostly nine-yard weave but over the years six-yard weave was included in it too. The original golden as well as silver zari is now being replaced by its cost effective metal or a copper zari which can manage to hold the sheen of the texture while reducing the cost.
Current state of the art
Kanchipuram sarees have been recognized as the Geographical Indication by the government. This is considered to be the mark of authenticity and has also helped to improve the sales of the Kanchipuram silk sarees.
A Tamil film, named Kanchipuram was being made in 2008, on the weavers, which have helped them to get the weavers problems in the mainstream media to focus. Last year, the government have introduced a policy to promote e-marketing from the local handlooms. There thirteen e-commerce entities have been partnered with the Office of the Development Commissioner (Handlooms) to market the handloom products from the weavers themselves.
Care Guide Of Kanchipuram Silk Saree
Dry cleaning is considered as one of the most preferred method that can maintain this saree. However, if you want to wash Kanchipuram saree at home, then avoid using the soap during the first three washes. A rinse in the cold water is just enough. It is also advisable to store the saree, separately in a plastic or saree bag.