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Friday, April 28, 2017

Kancheepuram Silk Sarees: Weavers colony visit

As part of the GRTHotels Bloggers meet activity, we visited Kancheepuram last Saturday. After visiting the temples, next stop was at a small handloom unit where silk sarees were being hand weaved. This post shares some photos and notes from that visit.
Despite advance of machine operated mills that can produce large quantities of cloths in shorter time, a good number of handlooms still operate in many parts of South India, Kancheepuram being one of them.  These domestic units put in extreme hard work to produce hand-made sarees which still retain good demand. The finesse and grandeur of sarees made by expert hands is unmatched by a machine. Below are some of the information shared with us by the lady who gave us a walkthrough of the operations

The silk used in the saree comes from Karnataka. The golden colour threads come from Gujarath.
Making a saree by hand is a pretty slow process. About 40 cm (length) long saree is made every day. A typical saree is 4.5 to 5 meters in length while few are even longer. Making one full size saree usually takes about 30-45 days of effort, depending on complexity of design. Workers put 10-12 hours of effort each day, pulling various levers and controls and inserting threads in specific patterns to get the desired output.
We saw two different unit. First one was operated by an old man and was completely manual. He needs to memorize the design and feed in right threads at right place periodically to get the desired design. The equipment felt so complex to understand and operate. We saw a second unit operated by a young man. It had a FORTRAN like computer program card (looks like 1980s technology). While the former machine had single colour threads, this one had blue + Red threads, which would result in a dual colour saree.

Kancheepuram sarees are very famous for their designer border, known as Zari. At the loom we visited, some party from Andhra Pradesh had placed order for several wedding sarees.  We were told retail price of exclusive wedding sarees range about 25000-35000 typically. Regular silk sarees cost INR 5000 upwards.
It was nice to know the effort that goes into making a saree. Next time you're in Kanchipuram, do visit some of the handlooms. You can stay at Regency by GRT Hotels. Thanks to them for facilitating the visit.

Similar: Rao Brothers of Mangalore- Ganesha Idol makers * Bikaner Miniature artist *

7 comments :

Ranjana Shankar said...

The first photo is very tempting! :) Always wanted see weaving method of Kanchi sarees. Will visit Kanchi for the same.

docdivatraveller said...

Such a wonderful experience! I love Kancheepuram sarees!
www.docdivatraveller.com

Shaivi said...

Kancheepuram sarees are a must in every Indian woman's wardrobe. Fascinated by the coverage of weavers.

sahil jangid said...

Oooh..lovely. first to thanks for this amazing post. Really it's too interesting post with fabulous pictures and I like it so much from deep of heart. Kancheepuram silk sarees are closed to my heart because my mother like it so much and I gifts these sarees to my mother many times...........so thanks again for sharing this post and make me part of this.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Sahil, Shaivi, Doc and Ranjana.

divsi said...

Have been to one of the weaver workshop attached to a showroom in Kanchi. Their skill is absolutely impressive. Love the contrasts and vibrant hues of the saris. I got to see how they weave it with perfect coordination of hands and legs. Great photographs!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Divsi- Yes, it is very skillful task- operating multiple controls