Traditional craft of India: Kanchipuram Silk

19 Apr 2017  Wed

As clothing is one of the basic needs of man, weavers have always occupied a very important place in the society since early times. Classical Indian texts like Rig Veda and Atharva Veda talk about weavers throwing Tan (loom) and are called ‘tanti’. The Sangam classics also record the weaving of a silk called Kanchipuram.

This silk got its name from the nagaram (city) of Kanchipuram which was ruled by the powerful Mauryan Empire and was the capital city of South Indian dynasties. The association of such a great royal lineage gave it a prominence that weavers would enjoy. The patronages of these princely classes have given a chronicling to this skill of weaving which makes it interesting to explore its artistic history.

Kanchipuram silk industry grew with trade facilitated by the river Palar and produced temple cloths, wall hangings and chariot decorations, furnishings, and nine-yard saris. The weaving of this silk is a slow process done by two weavers working together while designers facilitate the lifting of the thread. Today jacquard and dobby machines are used for weaving this silk. Its designs are weaved in gold and silver threads mainly for saris.

The elaborated patterns and thick and rich textures with vibrant colours and lustres of silk gives Kanchipuram silk its own unique identity in the textile industry.

To promote this ancient skill of Indian traditional art India post has issued a commemorative stamp in 2009.

Here’s an interesting fact: Lord Vishnu is called ‘Tantuvardan’ the divine weaver, who wove rays of sun into his garments in Sangam literature .

To know more about Indian textiles click here.

Knowledge Base
Online: 9.30 am to 6.30 pm