From Hema Malini, Sridevi and Rekha to Vidya Balan and Aishwarya or even many newbies, the evergreen Kanjeevaram saree has always had a close connection with Bollywood and its lovely divas. The magnificent weave definitely has a story to tell with all the generations it has witnessed, while still managing to take a special spot in everyone’s heart and wardrobe. It was only recently that we witnessed the stunning bride Deepika Padukone wear a spectacular Kanjeevaram saree for her Saraswat wedding rituals – a gift lovingly gifted by her parents. Even the veil she wore, designed by the House of Sabyasachi, was in pure Kanchipuram weave – and so was her glistening, golden Bengaluru reception saree (also a gift from her mum). It goes to show two things – the integral association this weave has with the South Indian culture – and also its indelible link with Bollywood and glamour world. A real gold zari weave, Deepika’s wedding saree had traditional woven motifs of Gandaberunda – the two headed bird, considered a sign of fortune and royalty in Karnataka.
The Classic Love Story Between Women and Kanjeevaram Sarees
The name Kanjeevaram comes from a small town or village named Kanchipuram in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, where the saree is believed to have originated. The saree or any outfit made in this woven fabric (which could be a pavadai, a half saree or even a lehenga) is considered a perfect ensemble for all kinds of important events, festivities and occasions. The classic weave produces a material that is thick and sturdy – and is tinged with gold or silver, used in borders and motifs on palav or across the saree body. Kanchipuram saree is also a popular bridal ensemble in most parts of Southern India.
Although, Kanchipuram sarees are made in silk, kora silk or cotton-silk as well as cotton (known as Kanchi Cotton sarees) – it is the glistening, pure silk variety that takes the cake for its grandeur and undying appeal. The royal appeal, the spectacular essence and the impeccable craftsmanship make this silk saree a showstopper that has been mesmerising the onlookers, since 400 years! These sarees received GI – Geographical Indication – status from government of India.
Making of an ethereal Kancheepuram Weave
Pure mulberry silk is used by master craftsmen in Kanchipuram to weave every one of these gorgeous silks. The yarns are first dipped in rice water, and then sun-dried. This process makes the yarn thicker and stiffer – lending it strength and texture. The thread is then interlocked with a thin silver wire/ zari yarn, followed by a gold thread or zari – and thence begins the process. The fabric, thus produced, is extremely durable and strong, especially when the metallic yarn is used aplenty. However this can make the saree as heavy as up to 2 kilos – plus quite expensive, especially when yarns in real silver, gold (yes, that’s still done) or (gold plated copper) are used!
Synthetic zari is also used avidly these days – which brings down the weight as well as the cost. Most Kora as well as Cotton Kanchi Sarees have cotton yarns or synthetic ones. These are pocket-friendly versions of Kancheepuram weave – yet extremely durable and strong.
The ornate pallu and borders are woven separately in all Kanjeevaram sarees – a speciality – which are then attached to the main saree body, through intricate weaving. Such is the precision that nobody can tell that two separate pieces of cloth have been woven together! A zigzag pattern called pitni can be spotted, though, where the pallu meets the saree. Plus, this is done so beautifully that the resultant product is extremely durable – and doesn’t come apart or tear, even after years.
A Weave Par Excellence
Woven in pure mulberry silk and bordered with copper, silver or gold-plated yarn zari, which comes from Gujarat – the authentic, trademark kanjeevaram saree is nothing short of a collectible masterpiece – that continues to look good – shining new – even after decades. Expensive as they are they are, they often make family heirlooms, passed among generations as avid gifts of love and blessings. It is a saree that gets equal love and adulation from grand-moms as well as young girls – such is the timeless classiness of this weave.
The vibrant colours and unique designs – which range from characteristic checks to scintillating broad borders – coupled with gorgeous woven motifs like peacocks, kalash, leaves etc. – make these sarees stand out pieces, amidst sea of other drapes. Authentic silk kanjeevarams – even when relatively plain – are never embellished or embroidered for extra decoration. Such is their mesmerizing charm that no external ostentation is needed!
Kanchi Cotton Sarees
Kanchi cotton sarees tend to have a plain body with standard striped style borders and pallu. These are very comfortable for summers – as well as everyday work wear. Their weaving technique is similar – to quite an extent – to that of weaving silk drapes – but overall fabric yarn and zari usage make them quite pocket friendly. These sarees are extremely strong and durable – and are much loved by women across India, especially the Southern states for everyday as well as work wear. They are so easy to maintain that they remain bright and vibrant, even after multiple washes at home.
The different types of Kanjeevaram sarees for all your special occasions!
While many of us just pick up the one we like, there are actually different types of Kanchipuram silk sarees you can choose, depending on the occasion you are planning to attend –
- Plain Kanjeevaram with gold border – This one might sound simple but the border is golden giving it a rich look. Perfect for your friend’s engagement ceremony!
- Temple Border Kanjeevaram – This one, as the name suggests, has a zigzag temple border – a cheron styled peaks’ design known as temple – which makes it stand out. Perfect for an anniversary party – even your own!
- Modern Kanjeevaram Weaves – These are woven in newer colours and contemporary motifs and designs on borders. Definitely the choice of a new age bride!
- Traditional Kanjeevaram – The coin, chakra or checked motifs are symbolic of traditional kanjivaram sarees, and these surely are the richest weaves among others. This is a perfect Pooja, wedding or bridal wear saree – a drape evergreen for every age and occasion.
Over the years , this masterpiece has evolved wonderfully where the whole essence and feel remains intact, while you will find some budget friendly options in copper borders instead of silver or golden ones. Also, the designs and motifs on the border are now inspired by a lot of other things than it initially was. All in all the evolution has only elevated the love we have for this breathtaking creation.
Irresistible weave that finds place in every Indian woman’s wardrobe
Originally a 9 yard weave, Kanjivaram is now usually available in a 6 yard length. With the evolution of designs, everyone is now spoilt for choice. Whether it is new brides or Bollywood A-listers, the kanjeevaram is quite a hit among Indian ladies for all the right reasons. Awe-inspiring, royalty personified and truly Indian, this saree is a must-have in everyone’s wardrobe. Why not? It oozes class from every weave because the colours, the designs, the craftsmanship, the material, everything is just fit for a royal Indian queen!
Who isn’t aware of Rekha’s eternal love for Kanjeevarams. She is a sight to see when she steps into any event with a royally gorgeous gold filmed pallu that shines in all its glory behind her. She is the true Kanjeevaram queen of Bollywood and she totally carries it off like nobody else can. Besides Rekha, Vidya Balan, Sridevi and Aishwarya Rai have shown their love for this classic drape – and so have many younger actresses, including Jacqueline, Anushka, Deepika etc.
The classic tale of elegance, beauty and uniqueness
Kanjeevaram sarees are very different from any other regular saree. Silk as a material is very rich and is not used very often in regular clothing. Silk has its own charm that nobody can deny. However, buying a kanjeevaram saree from anywhere and everywhere can crash all your dreams and land you in despair. You might end up spending a lot only to realize later that the quality was poor.
So kanjeevaram saree is not really an expenditure but an investment. The spectacular ensemble has the power to empower you with the confidence to walk the road like you’re walking the red carpet!
With so many designs and options available today you can get spoilt for choice and it becomes difficult to narrow down on something you’ll want to splurge on but with some stunning options that offer great quality or material, you can be sure that your divalicious moments are just around the corner.
A trusted place is always going to offer you the right kanjeevarams for your occasions. From variety in colours to the border designs and various motif placements, there’s everything available for you to choose from. Once you pick ok the perfect one for yourself, then you can look at the prices and finally make a choice that covers all aspects – quality, material, craftsmanship, price.
Whether it’s your best friend’s wedding or your own shagun, a kanjeevaram to grace these special moments of your life is a must. Without a kanjeevaram in your wardrobe, the essence of your Indianness is incomplete. An evergreen piece from your mother or grandmother will also be enough to show the longevity and the importance kanjeevaram holds.
Take inspiration from our Bollywood beauties or your own family tree, the kanjeevaram will surely leave you awestruck, keeping you captivated for years before you reward your children or grandchildren with this prized possession. Until then, keep enjoying royal diva moments and feel like a queen every single time you drape yourself in a pure silk kanjeevaram saree. You deserve it!