Textiles and Fabrics of India: Kanjivaram Saree
As part of the Textiles and Fabrics of India series, Shobitam hopes to embark on a journey with its patrons- one where we explore the history and evolution of unique textiles and fabrics from across India- together. Each week, we bring to you a new fabric and examine the attributes and characteristics that make it truly unique. We also try to peek into the rich history behind the development and mainstream growth of the weave. Shobitam envisions this series as a generator of disruptive discourse in the traditional textile space in India and beyond. We pay homage to the heritage of these fabrics while also casting them into the limelight, hoping to expose them to a broader audience from across the world.
At Shobitam, we strive to remain true to the authenticity and individuality of fabrics, both in our product catalog and in our blog! The textile for the week is The Kanjivaram Saree!
Characteristics of the Kanjivaram:
The almost mythical Kanjivaram saree is made from mulberry silk. It is a premium silk saree usually worn at weddings or other special occasions exclusively. The timeless elegance of Kanjvaram sarees is accentuated by the intricate zari work that adorns their border and body. The thread for the Zari is made of gold, silver, or copper, and adds shine as well as exceptional strength to the fabric. It also is very voluminous, making this variety one of the heavier ones compared to other types of Indian sarees.
Another novelty of Kanjivaram sarees is that the border design and color often prominently clash with that of the saree body, creating mesmerizing and arresting looks that command attention. These vibrant colors are often complemented by detailed depictions of scenes from mythical Indian epics such as the Mahabharata and Ramayana, or motifs representing peacocks and leaves. The border designs often comprise buttas, checks, stripes, or temple borders.
The Kanjivaram Weave:
Kanjivaram sarees are said to have originated from a village called Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu in southern India. They are sometimes also referred to as Kanchipuram, Kanjeevaram or Kanchivaram sarees. The Kanjivaram saree is acclaimed for its unmatched durability compared to other traditional Indian ethnic weaves. This strength is attributed to the yarn being soaked in rice water and then being sun-dried to make it stiffer, apart from the fact that the weavers use 3 ply silk for the border and 2 ply for the body.
Additionally, heavy Zari work, done by threads made of gold/silver or gold-plated copper, also lends durability to the fabric. Kanjivaram sarees consequently remain lustrous and robust even after decades - becoming family heirlooms in many instances that are passed from generation to generation.
The Kanjivaram saree is truly set apart from other Indian saree fabrics by its unique process of integrating the saree body with the pallu and border. The border for Kanjivaram sarees is woven separately from the main body and then attached later- a specialty of the production technique of this weave. This technique is called 'Korvai', and is a characteristic of Kanjivaram sarees.
The attachment is minute and masterful, with a fine line called the ‘Pitni’ reflecting the part where the border strip was attached to the saree. No other Indian saree is made this way!
The gold and silver threads used for the intricate Zari work, the lustrous and matchlessly durable fabric, the unique production process of interlocking a separately woven border into the saree body and the expertise required to execute all of this in the same cloth makes the Kanjivaram a statement saree. The prestige that a Kanjivaram saree carries makes it not only a fit fabric for family heirlooms, but an investment almost- which appreciates with time.
Consequently, a lot of forged Kanjivaram sarees also retail. To ensure customer satisfaction and to stay true to our motto of ‘Look Good, Feel Good and Do Good’, all silk sarees retailed by Shobitam are Silk Mark Certified. We are proud to source directly from authentic weavers and retail genuine products to our customers.
They say purchasing a Kanjivaram saree is one of life’s milestone moments, akin to buying one’s first car or house. Shobitam is proud to accompany you in your journey of buying the perfect Kanjivaram saree, offering a vast catalog of products to choose from! Make the first of many gratifying saree purchases from Shobitam here.
- Team Shobitam