All that glitters is gold. Or so it may seem in the ancient town of Kanjeevaram famous for textiles that can make liquid gold go scarlet in the face! If this doesn’t ring a bell, follow us as we trace the history of the delectable Kanjeevaram silk. We also explore why this queen of textiles makes a perfect choice for when wedding bells ring.
Legend has it that the gods in heaven required a man to fulfil their sartorial needs. So, sage Markanda weaved them a luxurious tapestry from the purest of lotus fibre. This textile had the consistency of the butter, the drape of a cascading waterfall and the light of a thousand shining suns. The descendants of sage Markanda brought the glorious textile to earth and became weavers in the town of Kanjeevaram. Originally used to drape temple gods, humankind’s first sin was to covet six yards of the treasure for themselves—and so was born the Kanjeevaram sari!
A measure of Kanjeevaram
The Kanjeevaram sari is heavier than a regular sari for two reasons: it is a double warp yarn meaning that each silk thread on a Kanjeevaram saree loom consists of three conjoined threads. The Kanjeevaram sari border typically consists of silver thread dipped in gold, to boot, adding density (and drool-worthy lustre) to the yardage. Motifs tend to be traditional narrating a landscape of mythological symbols such as peacocks, temple spires, nightingales, prayer beads and elephants. In fact, finding Kanjeevarams without a zari border and traditional motifs can prove so hard that modern Kanjeevarams sans borders are more expensive!
The ferocity of Kanjeevaram silk glory can bite many a designer shy but a mighty few have adapted its story for the runway. Gaurang Shah displayed the old-world glory of the six-yard celestial drape in an eclectic display of dazzle and hues, giving traditional brides a stake in the colours. Neeta Lulla chose the power-suit route styling her kanjis with gold-toned jackets and raw silk organza kurtas for the runway. She also adapted traditional kanji workmanship onto net fabric in a collection inspired by Kanjeevarams. The result? Delectable organza sarees with trademark Kanjeevaram style zari borders. While Gaurang Shah adapted kanji dupattas to pair with monotone silk kurtas and palazzos, Tarun Tahiliani worked the traditional Kanjeevaram to a voluminous lehenga at fashion week.
Knot-tying in Kanjeevaram
The fashion gurus have shown us that this cosmic garment is timeless, contemporary yet befitting no less than a goddess. If you’re considering going the Kanji route on the big day, here are a few tips to consider.
- Consider switching things up and wearing your kanji for the reception instead of the pheras. Go classy by pairing it with a kalamkari or other ornate top, or modern chic with a monochrome crop top.
- If wearing a kanji for the pheras, opt out of heavy jewellery and consider playing around with your hairdo instead.
- If a six-yard kanji isn’t up your alley, consider throwing in a kanji dupatta with a monotone lehenga or kurta and palazzos.
How would you wear your Kanjeevaram?