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Chettinad Sarees

Cotton Chettinad Saree Chettinad is an area in Tamil Nadu comprising about 70 villages which the Nattukottai Chettiars (also known as the Nagarathar community) call their home. They are a business community believed to have shifted to the Kaveripoompattinam port area (from Kanchipuram) during the reign of the Cholas (which belief is supported by the Tamil epic Silappathikaram ), and tales of their maritime trade go as far back as the 8th century although it isn't at all clear whether the tales are true. What is well established is that by the 17th century, the Nattukottai Chettiars were trading in salt and, by the 18th century, many of them had immigrated to Burma and Ceylon where they acted as moneylenders. It is with the Nagarathar community that Chettinad or Chettinadu sarees, also known as kandaangi , earlier often in silk, are associated. They are primarily woven in Karaikudi in cotton using pit looms. The colours tend to be bold and earthy with green, mustard, and r

Telia Rumal Sarees

End-piece of a cotton Telia Rumal saree The Telia Rumal is the precursor of Pochampally Ikat which is woven in what was earlier Andhra Pradesh (although, after the state was split, the main weaving centres have found themselves in the newly-created state of Telangana). Sized between 55 and 75 square cm, the Rumals or Chowkas featuring diamonds within squares were initially woven in 19th century Chirala (still in Andhra Pradesh) and used by fishermen and cowherds in their attire. By the 1930s, they were exported to the Middle East, Burma, and East Africa where they were used as headgear, and, soon after in the 1950s, their patterns were adopted in sarees at the suggestion of Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay who was the chairperson of the All India Handicrafts Board at the time. A quarter of a century later, in the 1970s, a weaver named Gajam Govardhana from Puttapaka, Nalgonda, visited Chirala and learnt how to make the Telia Rumal. It was through him that the technique of weaving the

Patola Sarees

Patan Patola Saree at INA Metro Station, Delhi Gujarat's Patola sarees are known to be coveted: they are Ikat sarees woven in silk. The effort required to weave one of these sarees is apparently so much that weaving them in cotton (which doesn't last as long as silk) simply doesn't make sense. There are currently two kinds of Patola sarees available: the Patan Patola which is an expensive double Ikat weave, and the Rajkot Patola which is a comparatively accessible single Ikat weave. Patola sarees are reversible, and Patan Patola sarees are assumed to last for about three centuries. They are woven in the town of Patan which is believed to have been established around 745 AD by Vanraj Chavda. The sarees, however, began to be woven much later: it is said that Patola attire was originally woven in Jalna, Maharashtra, and imported from there. However, around 1175 AD, King Kumarpal from Gujarat (who wanted a new, unworn Patolu to wear each day for his daily worship) defeat

Paramakudi Sarees

Emaneswaram Cotton Saree Emaneswaram in Tamil Nadu is one of two towns on either side of the river Vaigai; the other is Paramakudi. Both towns (which were, incidentally, 'merged' for administrative purposes in 1964) boast a long tradition of weaving although their arts are are not thriving. Emaneswaram is a temple town in which the God of Death, Yama, is believed to have worshipped Lord Shiva, asking to be reinstated, after the latter tossed him there — legend has it that Yama mistakenly threw a lasso around a Shivlinga at which a young Sage Markandeya, then destined to live only sixteen years, was praying for longevity; Yama had been aiming for Markandeya. The town of Paramakudi too is steeped in religion. Amongst the many well-known temples located in Paramakudi is one dedicated to Muthala Parameswari or Muthalamman, a benevolent manifestation of Shakti, who is worshipped by artisans (and scores of others). It is believed that the ancestors of contemporary weav

Berhampuri Sarees

End-piece of a cotton Berhampuri saree Berhampuri sarees are made in coastal Orissa; they are most often woven in silk, and silk Behrampuri sarees are referred to as Berhampuri patta. Silk weaving is said to have begun at Berhampur in the 14 th century although the history of Berhampuri sarees is confused: these sarees are also associated with the Mohuri kingdom which lay between the Rushikulya and Bahuda rivers: the Gajapati King Purushottama Deva who ruled Kalinga from 1466–97 is said to have ‘founded’ the Mohuri kingdom with a grant of land to Sana Raja. Much later, the Mohuri King Harihar Narayan Deb who ruled between 1772 and 1782 is believed to have convinced weavers from Rajmundhry in nearby Andhra Pradesh to migrate to his kingdom; these weavers of the Deras community, also known as Debangas, are credited with not only bringing the Behrampuri saree to its current form but also for introducing to the area worship of the goddess Budhi Santani Thakurani who is believed by so

Baluchari Sarees

Baluchari Saree The name ‘Baluchari’ is derived from the area in which the sarees are woven: Baluchar, now known as Jiaganj, in West Bengal’s Murshidabad district. Early Baluchari sarees were silk sarees believed to have been the creations of weavers who had migrated from Varanasi to Bengal around the 16 th century; these early sarees are said to have depicted scenes on their end-pieces not only from everyday life – everything from women smoking to horses being ridden – but also from the great Indian epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, and the Puranas. Each scene was set in an oblong frame on the end-piece of the saree, and each frame could feature a different scene; together, they actually told a story. In addition to this, the borders of Baluchari sarees often featured floral designs or figures, as did ‘butis’ on the field. The technology and know-how required to produce such sarees is now lost to us – unable to compete with less expensive textiles, by the time of indepe