An Indian woman’s wardrobe or wedding trousseau is incomplete without one very important possession - the quintessential Kanjivaram Saree. WeaverStory brings you the kanjivaram saree, shaped through the beauty of our hand crafted tradition and curated through a contemporary lens to suit the modern Indian woman.
Be it the most affluent leaders to the simplest of households, a wide variety of silk sarees are adorned by women at all functions and celebrations. The Kanjivaram is widely known as the queen of silks and is a preferred garment of choice at occasions that are more often than not very significant and life-changing, events that are markers of transition and growth and the beginning of a phase in human life and its journey.
All Indian festivities and main occasions such as Diwali, Dussehra, Navratri or Eid, Silk sarees are worn, gifted, treasured and loved by all generations. Silk sarees have a deep cultural significance in India. They are offered to the revered Goddesses and family elders as a mark of respect and love.
Another significant cultural belief embedded in Indian culture is that gold has the power to purify anything it touches. For them, Gold is a precious metal that defines power and wealth. Various manifestations of gold can be seen in weddings ranging from the décor to the attire, and from Jewellery to Mithai. One such manifestation of gold and silk put together is the Kanjivaram.
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What is a Kanjivaram?
Kanjivaram is not just a piece of cloth but a Saree that weaves together emotions and silhouettes. Owing to the rich and lustrous fabric and deep colors mixed with hints of gold, it is the one of the most precious investments in an Indian women’s wardrobe. Also known as the queen of silks, the Kanjivaram saree is made up of iridescent weaves that amalgamate modernity and tradition.
Origin and History
The story of the Kanjivaram silk saree begins in early Hindu mythology. It is said that the Kanchi silk weavers are descendants of Sage Markanda, who was considered to be the master weaver of the Gods. The timeless weave gets its name from the Silk city of Kanchipuram, in Tamil Nadu where two major weaving communities of Andhra Pradesh, had migrated to make the silk saree. They created a 9-yard philosophy that bore images of mythological scriptures and temple figurines found around the village, which came to be known as the kanjivaram.
Hallmarks of Real Kanjivaram Sarees
1 Wide Contrast Borders and Colors:
While most Indian textile genres are woven with a single warp – the Kanjivaram Saree is typified by its use of two or three warps that are dyed in distinct colors and are woven together by the most painstaking interlocking technique. The technique is locally known as the Korvai weave. This technique permits the play of colors that is a signature of this genre and elevates each Kanjivaram Saree to a work of art. The joint is woven so strongly that even if the sarees tears, the border will not detach. This is a hallmark for Kanjivaram weaving.
Apart from the traditional reds and golds, they also come in a plethora of hues and shades like bold purple, modern mauves, subtle peach and fresh tangerines.
2. Secret Ingredient of the Gold Glimmer –The Zari
The silk thread (resham) that is used to weave the saree is dipped in rice water and sun-dried before it is used to increase both its thickness and stiffness. The silk thread is then interlocked with a thin silver wire and woven through after which a golden thread is used to complete the procedure.
So, if you have been wondering why Kanjivaram silk has that golden sheen even in garments that do not have a gold color base, this is the reason! The thread itself has a metallic tinge which lends its character to this wonderful saree.
3. Motifs and Design Repertory
Temple borders, checks, stripes and floral motifs are traditional designs found on Kanjivaram sarees which were inspired with images and scriptures in South Indian temples or natural features like leaves, birds and animals. This is why they come in a wide variety depending upon the intricacy of work, colors, pattern, material used like Zari (gold thread) etc.
4. A marker of permanence/ legacy
The 6-yard wonder weave is made using 240 warps and 250 wefts, making it practically impossible to tear away the weave. The Zari is made of three silk threads twisted with a silver wire, further refining the strength of the weave.
This, however, can also add to the weight, making a regular Kanjivaram sarees heavier than other silks.
So, if you’re in search of the perfect heirloom to be passed onto your next genereation, check out our collection of Kanjivarams at :
Important Facts & Information
- In order to safeguard the radiance of the Kanjivaram silk sarees, the Indian Government has recognized it as a Geographical Indication in 2006. You’ll find a Silk Mark on them (like the hallmark that’s given to real diamonds) that indicates its authenticity.
This silk was considered to be Lord Shiva’s and Lord Vishnu’s favorite fabric as per the legends.
- The Kanjivaram is such an important part of our Indian heritage that it finds its place in Indian Pop culture also. A Tamil film called Kanchivaram was created to depict the struggles of silk weavers in the town of Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu. The movie was released in 2008.
Care guide and Maintenance
- Professional Dry cleaning of the sari is always recommended. If you are comfortable with spacing the cleaning intervals to once in 2-3 uses, please do so.
- Air the sari as much as possible after every use and dry clean followed by a roller iron to restore the folds. Also keep changing the crease of the saree every now and then to keep your saree from getting a permanent fold mark.
- For stain removal, use spot cleaning technique but we always recommend professional dry-cleaning
- Also, never brush, beat or twist your saree. Avoid airing it in direct sunlight.
- Use silica gel bags to absorb extra moisture so that there is no fungal growth on the sarees.
- Wrap it in a sheet of muslin cloth and store away from light and heat (from indirect sources like a window or heater).If possible , keep it separately to avoid friction with other fabrics, which will damage the silk, leading to tears.
- These sarees must never be hung from metal hangers like your other clothes. Doing this can leave marks that may never go away, rendering your kanchivaram sarees useless.
- Never use a brush to remove dust particles from a silk saree.
- Do not store weight on top of the your precious silk sarees
Iron with care
- Use low heat while ironing silk sarees and always cover the saree with a fine muslin or cotton cloth in order to not burn the saree.
- Steam iron is best suited for Silk sarees as it removes all kinds of creases and lends a clean look to it.
- Also keep changing the crease of the saree every now and then to keep your saree from getting a permanent fold mark.