India Silk Saree Weaves
are easily among the
most glamorous and colourful
silk weaves in the whole world.
Be it the gorgeous golden
floral motif on the
Kanchipuram, or the peacock
designe on the Paithani, the
splendour of the Indian silk
Traditionally, every region in India has had its own unique weave for the silk saree. Here are the top seven silk weaves that are a must in every Indian womans wardrobe.
Also known as Kanjeevaram, the Kanchipuram is probably the most sought-after saree in a bridal wardrobe. Woven primarily in the town of Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu, the classic Kanchipuram is made from pure mulberry silk and gold zari and is known for its durability and splendour. Every year, the Indian wedding season sees thousands traveling to the cities of Chennai and Kanchipuram to get the best Kanjeevaram silks at the best possible prices.
This hand-woven silk saree uses three single silk threads twisted together with zari. The zari consists of a silk thread rolled with silver wire and dipped in pure gold. The combination of gold, silver and pure silk makes the Kanchipuram a majestic but expensive saree. The Kanchipuram weave is made using the double-warp, double-weft technique, giving it a two-layered, strong finish. The modern Kanchipuram has evolved to include in its design embroidery, crystals, and non-traditional motifs and colours.
One of the characteristics of the traditional Kanchipuram is contrasting colours.
In a traditional, hand-made Kanchipuram, the body of the saree, the pallu, and the border are created individually and then brought together. The motifs on the traditional Kanchipuram usually consist of temple towers, flower patterns, birds, or the rudraksha motif.
The traditional Kanchipuram is found in bright red, orange, green, or maroon colours.
Like the Kanchipuram, this is a favourite for the bridal wardrobe. Completely hand-made, it can take anywhere from 15 days to a month to complete a classic Banarasi silk saree. But the time and effort are well worth it. In the ancient days, Banarasi silk was a mainstay in the wardrobe of the Moghul royals. A Banarasi silk lends instant glamour and elegance.
The heavy, gold-silver Banarasi brocade is a work of art. The saree is characterised by its intricate weave and zari work. The weave consists of silk warp and weft brocaded with additional weft motifs in varying patterns like creepers, bells etc. The Banarasi pure silk weave is known as katari.
A Banarasi silk saree usually has Moghal, Persian or Egyptian style motifs including intricate floral patterns, animals and architectural patterns.
A typical element of a Banarasi silk is a slim, fringe-like design similar to a string of vertical leaves, along the border.
Chanderi weave has created some of Indias most elegant saris, shimmering gossamer-light cotton fabrics that are ideal as summer wear. Traditionally woven with pure, handspun cotton yarn,
Chanderi saris were patronised extensively by royalty, since their fragile lightness, pastel hues and intricacy of motifs was unparalleled. Their motifs are inspired by nature and by the stunning temples of Chanderi town, Madhya Pradesh, where this weaving style is practiced.
Chanderi weaves today are produced using three raw materials: cotton, silk thread, and zari, or gold thread. None of there materials are available locally, and need to be imported from other Indian states, as well as from China, Japan, and Korea. Chanderi is primarily a weavers town, located near the river Betwa in Guna district of Madhya Pradesh. According to official estimates, over sixty per cent of its population of 30,000, manufactures or trades in this fabric.
Few silk sarees are made as pains takingly as the Paithani. The pride of Maharashtra, worn by the Peshwa royals and now considered to be a luxury item, the saree is chiefly- made in the town of Paithan. Needing 2-6 months for completion of a single saree, the Paithani is truly a labour of love.
The Paithani weave is characterised by gold zari and silk weave. The Paithani consists of a plain weave, which has weft designs along the lines of a tapestry. The pallu of the saree usually has a gold base with silk pattern, which gives it a distinctive, embossed look.
The typical motifs of the Paithani include the lotus, parrots, peacocks, coconut and floral vines.
Since Paithan is located close to the Ajanta Caves in Maharashtra, the motifs of the Paithani are inspired by the Buddhist art seen in the caves.
Dharmavaram silk sarees come from Andhra Pradesh, home to a number of unique saree weaves. Made in the town of Dharmavaram in the district of Anantapur, a Dharmavaram saree is characaterised by brilliant colours, rich artistry and a double shading effect.
The Dharmavaram silk saree is made of silk fabric that can be easily dyed. The pallus are intricately designed.
The Dharmavaram silk saree is characterised by borders without too much contrast. The border usually has brocaded gold dot motifs.
Created in Patan in Gujarat, Patola silk is considered to be among the best hand-woven silk in India. Patola sarees can be vertically-resist dyed, called single ikat. Or, they may be horizontally-resist dyed, called double ikat. The entire process of creating a Patola silk saree can take up to six months. The Patola silk saree has complex, five-colour patterns resist-dyed into weft and warp threads before weaving begins. Patola silks are characterised by blazing and bright colours, and geometric patterns mixed with folk motifs.
The Patola silk saree looks alike from both sides, and so can be worn both ways.
There are about 5000 handloom weavers in Pochampally who create sarees in traditional ikat work. This saree is known for its unique design. The ikat weaves involve the yarn being dyed first, with each strand dyed on the basis of the final pattern that has been decided. This means that everything has to be very precise and requires the skills of true artists. This method is very similar to the tie-and-dye -method, the real difference being that here the yarn is dyed before weaving a rather complex procedure.
The yarn for the wrap and the weft is stretched on wrapping blocks in the form of quarter circle. They consist of one strong peg, connected with the circular segment of a wooden plank, studded with about 35 pegs at regular intervals. The thread wrap as well as weft is stretched on it and divided into a numbers of sets. Later the designs are tied in the sets. While the yarn is held on the wrapping block. For dying the yarn is taken off, but when dry, it is again stretched, partly opened tied and for dyeing, a process which can be repeated several times. The red and brown design in white and black area achieved using alizarin dyes. For this the cloth is first soaked in mixture of castor oil and alkaline earth, then dried, again soaked, dipped in alizarin paste and finally boiled till it becomes red. For the brown shades, iton splinters are added to the v color. Dissolving iron splinters in vinegar produces black color.
Designs generally are worked out on graph paper. Great care must be taken in putting the wrap on the loom, keeping all the threads in position is necessary for the design to work. The natural movement during weaving gives Ikat designs a feathered edge which characterizes this technique. The famous Pochampally ikat tie-and-dye saree has won Intellectual Property Rights protection. It is the first traditional Indian craft to receive this status of geographical branding. The design won protection in the Geographical Indications category. This will protect the pochampally handloom saree from unfair competition and counterfeit.
Take Care of Silk Sarees
In order to preserve the luster and freshness in the long run of the sarees life proper care and attention is to be taken. Given below are few easy ways to keep your silk sarees long-lasting and looking as elegant and glamorous as a new one.
1. For the first wash, soak the saree in salt water and then rinse well in cold water.
2. Do not wash with soap in the beginning.
3. After two or three plain water washes, use mild detergent and clean quickly.
4. Do not brush or lash a silk saree. This might tear the zari.
5.Wash pallu (Mundhi) and border separately in the beginning.
6. Do not bundle and keep wet for a long time.
7. In case of stains, wash with cold water immediately.
8. For hard stains soak the stained area with petrol and brush with soft cloth.
9. Do not bundle the wet saree along with inferior variety clothes like choli, under gown (Petticoat), etc.
10. While pressing, keep the iron in medium heat only.
11. Store sarees in a cold dry place dusted with neem leaves.
12. Make sure to change the saree fold once a month in order to avoid zari breakage.
Wearing Your Silks
You can wear these stunning silk weaves for traditional parties, during festivals, and during Indian weddings and ceremonies. You can dress up in your silk saree in the traditional Indian way. This by itself can be a gorgeous ensemble. However, if you want a more contemporary and edgy look, you can go for an Indo-Western look.
The Indo-Western ensemble can be fun and stylish. You can pair up your saree with a made from your Indian silk weave.spaghetti blouse or a halter neck choli. Alternatively, you can go for stylishly cut tunics made from plush Banarasi silk. Better yet, you can go for dresses or skirts in flattering silhouettes made from your Indian silk weave.
Finally, remember that few things match the timeless elegance of the Indian silk saree. A silk saree, if maintained carefully, can stay beautiful for decades. The silk saree then, is not just a fashion trend. It is truly a legacy that can be passed on to future generations.