The Ancient History of Chanderi Saree
- November 27, 2020
- Posted by: Rupal Jain
- Category: Fashion ,
Dating back to 5,000 years hand weaving remains today one of the most lively textile arts. Weaving is not merely the interlacement of the warp and the weft; it’s a means of creative expression which allows an imaginative person to re-captivate the trills of creativity that the primitive weaver once knew.
The making of fabric or weaving is an age old art of India which gives practical service and immense pleasure to both hand and eye. In India perhaps no village remains which does not have its own colony of caste weavers, each member sitting beside a simple loom weaving out the traditional beauty of India’s heritage.
India has one of richest traditions of woven textiles which are made from different materials using a variety of techniques and processes. Each region within India has its own distinctive style, techniques of weaving designs which have been influenced not only by geographical, social and cultural traditions but also through migration of other groups coming to India by land & from all over the world.
Indian textiles have today a world market and specially its designs. Perhaps no other country in the world could give so many variations of woven designs in textile than India in any part of world history.
It has been rightly said that the history of female costume in India is the story of the choli and sari. As Mrs. Kamala dongerkery has pointed out, “The five or six yard sari with a choli has set in common style of dress in India today. At the end of thousands of years of history, it promises to remain as the most suitable, graceful and convincing style for this country.
Likewise, Madhya Pradesh can boast of its dainty CHANDERI SAREES. It is said that no one was allowed to enter the court of Gwalior without a CHANDERI fabric.
What is Chanderi Saree
CHANDERI SAREES are elegant, soft and gauzy in cotton or in combination of cotton with silk having a gold or silver border and motifs. Chanderies are brilliant to look at, the colour harmonies are invariably soft, suitable and reposeful with only a muted whisper of frivolity, gaiety glamour and romance.
Chanderies are “A mixed fabric with silk as warps and cotton as weft, woven in multi weft technique”
LOCATION AND HISTORICAL BACKGROUND:-
=> THE LOCATION OF CHANDERI:-
The district of Chanderi is Guna, a beautiful and developing city. Chanderi was a state of Gwalior kings, The Scindias 225 km away from Gwalior. From the economic point of view Chanderi is a weaver's town, positively transformed with the appropriate government intervention. There are around 5000 weavers weaving this lovely work of art creating design, vivid colors and exquisite work.
=> HISTORICAL BACKGROUND:-
There are two Chanderies. The old and the new chanderi. The old chanderi is an ancient Hindu city situated 8-9 miles from New Chanderi. In 1030, Alveruni has mentioned chanderi in one of the Sanskrit manuscripts of the 12th century.
REASONS FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF THIS INCLUSTRY:-
ENCOURAGEMENT BY HINDU AND MUSLIM RULERS:-
This Scindiyas patronized Chanderi sarees weaving industry. With their extensive help the weaver did not have to go out of Chanderi.
In 1922, His highness Madhavrao Sindhiyas visited Chanderi and helped the weavers. In 1939, after the 2nd world war the kings took over the responsibility and the art survived.
A READY MARKET FOR EXPENSIVE & ARTISTIC FABRIC :-
The fineness of the Chanderi sarees are described at the time of emperor Jahangir when Chanderi Muslins 15 yards in length and one yard in width could be made so fine as to weigh, merely 900 gram. It would take an expert weaver nearly 5 months to weave a piece of the above mentioned size. The costs of such delicate fabric were very high, but due to the presence of many royal families, ready markets were available and art flourished.
NO CUSTOM DUTY WAS CHARGED:-
The cottage industry was encouraged more for the main reason that no custom duty on raw materials used in Chanderi fabrics was charged. Also no custom duty was imposed on fabric produced thus; the industry could progress and prosper.
SIZING’S RAW MATERIAL WAS AVAILABLE FREE OF COST:-
Koli kanda (wild onion) used for sizing cotton grown in the jungles of chanderi was procured free of cost.
The marketing of products was easy, the main market being Gwalior.
PROCESS OF MANUFACTURE OF CHANDERI SAREE
The designs are first painted on a plain sheet of paper in required colors, which are then transformed on graph papers. These graph papers are called NAKSHA or TALIM.
There are master weavers who suggest the design according to their likes and dislikes and those suggested by the customers.
(2) PURCHASING OF YARNS:-
The count of cotton yarns for Chanderi Sarees was 100s-120s. The silk was of denier 20/22. The businessmen and the co-operative society at Chanderi purchased cotton from Madras, Bombay and Ahmedabad and sometimes from Madurai. The silk yarn was purchased from Kashmir and Bangalore. The co-operative society imported silk from China, Japan, Brazil, and Korea.
The zari earlier used was of pure gold and silver purchased from Agra, but now it is rarely ever used. The tested zari of best variety from Surat is used by weavers.
Warp length of 12 sarees is purchased and weft of 2 to 3 sarees at a time.
(3) DYEING OF YARNS:-
Dyes at Chanderi were procured from Bombay, Delhi, Atul and Bulsar. Yarns were dyed at co-operative society.
These dyed yarns were used for weaving. Sarees were woven by adjusting the dyed yarn for the design in the sarees. To produce checks or stripers Vat dyes, Naphthol dyes and Acid dyes are used at Chanderi.
(4) SIZING OF YARN:-
Koli kanda is used for sizing is powdered, and a paste is made with soft water to this a calculated quantity of water is added and the required consistency is obtained by heating and stirring constantly with a bamboo stick. The dyed yarns both silk and cotton were stretched on bamboo sticks and the size was applied with brushes Two or Three layers were applied and then it was allowed to dry in the Sun.
(5) THE WEAVING PROCESS:-
The weavers of chanderi are of Shilpi castes who take pride to inherit their profession. For weaving the cotton is used as the weft yarn or the, Bana and silk is used for the warp yarns or the, “TANA”, so fine is the silk that the weaver has to place Trays filled with water underneath the weft in order to make out the gossamer strand. Often silk and gold is mixed in the body of the sarees. The border however is usually made up of gold thread.
The yarns that are undergummed or gummed silk are wet while warping. This increases the fineness of the yarns and the resultant sarees are more gauzy in appearance.
The looms used are the fly shuttle pit loom, the 3 shuttle nal pherva technique which requires two weavers on the loom. The technique is very old and has given way to the most common throw shuttle pit loom.
The entire sarees are woven in plain weave.
(6) THE FINISHING PROCESS:-
The Chanderi sarees are given a calendering process for finishing with a kundi, beating down over a wood block with mallet which makes the warp and weft more compact and gives surface characteristics shine.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF CHANDERIES
The length of the sarees is 5(1/2) mt long and its width is about 48”-50”. There is no Peculiarity regarding the field of the sarees which is usually in plain weave except in some cases there are woven checks called ‘MASOOR’ which resembles the checks found in kota sarees.
The different types of sarees produced at chanderi are.
For more than 100 years chanderi has been famous for its production of extremely fine cotton and gold sarees known as “Asavalis”. In their sarees delicate gold ornaments enameled in soft muted tones are woven into the pallav, border and body of the sarees. The design forms are linear and bear close resemblance to the marble jeweled inlay work found in the Mughal architecture.
DOUBLE CHASHMEE: -
This is entirely a thing of the past. The sarees in this collection had borders of different colors as in ganga-Jamna or in golden entirely.
This sarees with cotton body and with satin silk woven borders has been described by sir George wattin 1903, “we are told that such sarees are sold in Baroda to a trader Shri Manibhai whose shop on Mandvi Road for chanderi sarees, but today such sarees are impossible to weaver. We presume these sarees were woven by Muslim weavers.”
PLAIN POT: -
This is the cheapest sarees woven at chanderi as it does not have any motif or design or even a border.
This is bridal sarees which is 54 widths which only allowed it to trail on the ground and permitted a long “ghughat” orveil over the face.
It has an all over effect and therefore the most costly of all Chanderis costing about rs 4000/- to rs 5000/-
It has a very narrow golden board.
It has golden pillars in the pallav.
It has intricate woven borders woven basically on silk background and attached to the body of the sarees with a slight woven extension.
This saree differs from rest as in this the one series of yarn is highly twisted silk yarn which gives a fluffiness to the complex sarees the other series of yarn is of normal twist silk yarn.
The maharastrian women who patronized this art form had a 9 yard sarees specially made for them.
THE MOTIFS OF THE CHANDERI SAREES:-
There are wide ranges of motifs that are used in chanderi sarees.
They have been inspired mostly from nature .ie the garden and jungles, around Chanderi. Also they are inspired by the economics such as Asharfi (Gold Coins) motifs. They also relate themselves to ghunghru (anklets).
Mortify Used are:-
1. ASHARFI MEANING GOLD WIN
2. BUNDAKI MEANING DOT
3. KERI MEANING MANGO
5. GHUNGRU MEANING ANKLETS
7. PHOOL PATTI-FLOWER WITH LEAVES
Sometimes rarely geometrical motifs are also seen in chanderi sarees. Their motifs are used on the borders, pallav and field of the sarees. Plain borders are also woven with varying colors and breadth called “KINARS”
KINARS IN CHANDERI SAREES:-
VARIOUS KINDS FOUND ARE
- Pipin kinar
- Phool kinar
- Jari pipin
- Nal pherva kinar
COLOURS USED IN CHANDERI SAREES:-
Mostly pastel colors are used pastel pink, sky, blue, off white and peach were used traditionally.
Colors have got inspiration from nature besides many colors are also used such as.
1. KESARI :- SAFFRON
2. BADAMI :- ALMOND WITH A TINT OF SAFFRON
3. ANGOORI :- PALE GRAPE GREEN
4. MORGADANI :- BLUE GREEN OF THE PEACOCK
5. TOTAI :- PARROT GREEN
6. MEHANDI :- HEENA GREEN (RELENT)
7. CHUTNI :- SAP GREEN (RECENT)
8. ANANDI :- TURQUOISE
9. RANI :- INDIAN PINK
10. PHALSA :- REDDISH MAUVE
11. KATHAI :- PURPLISH BROWN
BLOCK PRINTED CHANDERI SAREES:-
The plain pot sarees woven at chanderi in bright colors are then block printed by hand to create surface designs.
The Motifs are stylized geometric, floral and flowering tree Motifs, Animal motifs, stylized mango motifs are popular. Popular motifs like flowering trees with birds, Elephant in folk style are common.
This block printing is not done in Chanderi but in nearby places, not only promoting employment, but also providing to the customer a slightly less expensive Chanderi Sarees.
DEMAND OF THE SAREES:-
The main market of chanderi sarees is Madhya Pradesh. Next to Madhya Pradesh another major market is West Bengal mainly Calcutta. Off white and dark colored chanderi sarees are preferred in Bengal. Chanderi sarees are more in demand by the rich Marwari women. These sarees are sold in the Bombay market too. Sindhiyas ordered sarees of very superior quality having exclusive and intricate design.
Chanderi sarees are more expensive than Maheshwari sarees because in Chanderi sarees design are produced by extra weft whereas in Maheshwari sarees, design is produced by extra warp.
CHANDERI SAREES-PRESENT STATUS:-
Government today has taken measures to revive this traditional art form by forming co-operatives and providing raw material to the weavers at a cheaper rate. The government has also given looms to the weavers at very low interests.
The machinery looms etc. required for the weaving are constructed at optimum prices in Nagpur and supplied to the weavers through the co-operatives.
It is basically for these reasons that Chanderi sarees industry is alive. Many popular celebrities and e-commercial websites are now trying to Romanticize and sell this ageless beauty.
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