Kanjivaram : combining the mythical with the familiar, and the spectacular with the everyday!

Kanjivaram : combining the mythical with the familiar, and the spectacular with the everyday!

It was a beautiful day in the temple town of Kanchipuram . We were visiting the much acclaimed Kanchi Kailasanathar Temple .

As we walked around, I wanted to take some pictures . This place had some kind of energy . It seemed to bring everything together , be it the weather that day, the scent in the air, the visual beauty, the positive aura, the timing…it was just perfect.

My freind Suman loves to pose , and being a native , she was walking around effortlessly flaunting her beautiful saree .

Everything seemed to move in slo-mo . Like a piece of theatre , someone playing a ‘tabla’ in the background , the sound of ghungroo that she wore , the south Indian music by ‘Susheela Raman -O Rama’ playing in my head , were adding layers of cosmic bliss to the moment .

The temple was so full of Shakti or the devotional energy that I was still wrapped in it when the auto that she hailed stopped in front of the temple .

There was a soft breeze . It carried the scent of the Mogra flowers (Jasmine) that she wore in her hair. The rays of the sun were adding a dreamy effect as she spoke . I was transposed to the kingdom of yore .

She kept talking , slowly connecting the journey of the Kanjivaram to the real world .

“There are quite a few kinds of Kanjivarams . Each name evokes a season, a fragrance, a memory, a reason . The colours of the kanjivaram sari are to be worn for various significant events and to mark different stages of life. Shades of black and white, in particular . Black is the colour used to ward off the ‘evil eye’ . And that’s the exact reason why a mother-to-be is also given a pure black sari to wear on this occasion . In contrast, white or ‘Sveta’ is considered the purest of the pure, touched by the divine. The kanjivaram wedding sari is usually lustrous shades of white like pearls, butter creams and ivory , with golden zari .”

Her Kanjivaram Saree had done the trick . It was not at all a regular cloth woven together . It was a language . It was a story of something precious . It seemed to form a relationship with it’s wearer .

No wonder this Saree finds it’s place in the bridal trousseau, guarding and adorning the most auspicious and revered moment in the life of a new Bride .

The next day I was visiting the C P Ramaswamy Aiyar foundation establised by the father of historian Nandita Krishna . She was a passionate poised lady who spoke of the rich history and culture of this land .

She spoke about history and the Pallava dynasty among other things . They were great patrons of art and architecture.Many of the rock cut temples were the constructs of their art . Under Pallava rule, trade and textile industry found new dimensions and scale and Kanchipuram became a major cotton weaving centre .

Rock carving

Surprisingly , the relationship of Kanjivaram with silk is fairly new . It’s original relationship is with cotton . Cotton woven in this region was of such fine quality the cloth could pass through a finger ring .

Cotton Kanjivaram

Kanjivaram saree which we see today is thus a product of many threads of influence brought in by travellers and migrants over centuries.However , the weaver communities assimilated attributes from native physical environment and mythology, thereby maintaining its deep connect with the temple town it comes form .

The motifs and the patterns on the saree are not just decorative . They too have strong symbolic connotations with tradition and culture . They are inspirations drawn from temple architecture and objects that form a part of day to day life in a south Indian home .

What is unique about the saree is that the colour and designs of the body, and the pallu are quite different . Weavers weave both of them separately and eventually join them. Many a times they even weave the border of the saree separately and then join the three together. The joining of the three is known as korvai and is done with such precision that even if the saree tears, the border will not detach.

In the backyard of the museum there was a Kanchi tree from whom the place gets its name . Upstairs , some old Kanjivarams were preserved with great care and were now antiques .

Kanchi Tree -Native to Kanchipuram

Today , we were trailing the sari , visiting the home of one weaver .

The weavers considered themselves , the decedents of Sage Markandeya . Sage Makarandeya was destined to die at a young age of 16 . As he learnt about his fate, he became an ardent worshiper of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu . Finally as he turned that age , he did conquer death with his unquestioning faith and undeterred penance thereby coming to be referred as Mrutyunjaya. He wove the very first fabric from lotus fiber which came out of the naval of Lord Vishnu . He then became known as the weaver of the Gods .

I sat in fascinated silence as the man of the house worked on his loom that filled the small room. He was weaving a sari in brilliant colours and real gold zari. Thread by thread the sari was being formed , the gold butis where glinting in the light of the naked bulb hanging from the roof. The sight of him bent over his loom, sweat beads glistening on his forehead, made a permanent imprint on my mind .

I walked by and there was something else . A photographer was very busy taking pictures of a dancer in a saree in the very same workshop .

I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of a setting, an environment, an atmosphere that is befitting a creation in a way that it enhances the overall aura and appeal of the creation. I stood by , yet again getting drawn .

She saw me and was kind enough to spend sometime talking about her work , offering her perspective to art and its connection with textile . She opened a complete new dimension to my way of looking at the link between fabric and movement, weaver and dancer, India’s textile and dance traditions.

Kanjivaram with brocade pallu -a dancer inhabits the textile and plays with fabric through movement

She did not make an emphasis on the jewelry, make-up, flowers, or any other adornment that is often essential to a dancer’s presence while performing on stage for an audience. By highlighting the drapes , she brilliantly showed how a single piece of cloth is of such high significance in India. The photographs were absolutely stunning . They celebrated textiles as they did the aesthetic of the wearer .

That night as I laid my head on the pillow and stared at the ceiling , a thought came to my mind . Beauty is a composite of many ideas, things and experiences … it is the smell of the first rain , a book store that has the collection of W B Yeats poems , the aroma of steaming hot kolam rice in an ancestral village home, horses galloping in a meadow with their mane’s swaying elegantly , the sun coming down. It is in creation of something for the sake of art and passion .

Beauty reveals itself in moments of silence .

The Kanjivaram saree was extraordinary . And I discovered my love for it . It was after all curated in a spiritual residence connecting all the way to times .

The Kanjivaram Bridal Look -What you wear, is who you are!

A woman has long been upheld as a paragon of virtue, patience and resilience. Today I take the liberty to showcase different shades that she can bring out beautifully that makes life ever so worth it .

Shades of Green

Green in all it’s shades evokes of a sense of calm and peace, perfectly suited to unwavering personality, loyalty and gentle poise . A bride in a Green saree cannot stop smiling as she feels absolute tranquility in her skin .

Shades of Red -A woman of colour

Red, the colour of fire, passion and life, emoting the bold, fiery and fearless . — a strong woman who isn’t afraid to question the status quo. A bride in red feels within every nerve that she is about to make a statement that none can ignore .

Brilliant shades of yellow.

Yellow-This colour, with all its vitality the ultimate symbol of womanhood, virtue and sacrifice. The choices she makes truly shape the lives of all who form a part of her world . A bride in yellow feels deeply , the sunshine that she is about to confer upon the people that matter the most .

My favourite women from Bollywood draped in the ever so elegant -Kanjivaram saree

Bollywood seems enamored by its magic.

“Confidence is your best accessory . The only thing that you need to wear well is your confidence !”

“I don’t care much about success -it’s an alien word to me . All I care about is relishing every moment of life . That’s enough for me . “

“Happiness is a matter of perspective . It’s your choice how you look at the world

We are happy to launch an exquisite collection of sarees for you at https://newsavera.in/collections/sarees

With the launch of the NewSavera online store, we ventures beyond the Kanjivaram, finding the same distilled essence, rarity and breathtaking beauty of master crafts across saris, lehengas and other outfits : the best of the best, all curated right here for you.