The highly famed Kanchipuram silk saree is to the South what the Benarasi silk saree is to the North of India. It is the purity of the fabric which makes Kanchipuram silk sarees one of the most favourite silk sarees in India and abroad. These gorgeous silk sarees, woven with the golden zari threads in all kinds of hues, was developed as the legend says by God’s own weavers.
It was about 400 years ago that these sarees were woven during the reign of King Krishna Deva Raya and finally became the speciality of the township of Kanchipuram where the weavers eventually settled. From here, came the name of Kanchipuram silk sarees which are even now worn for all special and auspicious occasions in the South, and gaining in popularity around the country.
Originally these sarees were woven with real gold and silver zari which used to come from Gujarat and South Indian silk, whose threads were dipped in rice water to give it that rich heaviness. They were initially woven into the whole nine yards, but off late sixyard lengths are more favoured and easily worn by the ladies.
Today one can buy two kinds of Kanchipuram Silk sarees. One is the top line as the original version with real silver thread dipped into pure gold to make gold zari, and then the more affordable version, where copper wire electroplated with silver is used instead of pure silver thread to make zari.
With all kinds of South Silk sarees flooding the market here’s how you should check if what you are buying is the real Kanchipuram saree or not.
1.Check how the border and pallu has been attached
In a Kanchipuram silk saree, the border and pallu are separately woven and then attached to the main body of the saree. With a very painstaking, labour intensive process, the body is attached to the border and pallu which are all in contrasting colours to each other and with varying kinds of zari work. The place where the body is joined to the pallu, the petni technique is used to create a narrow overlap of double thickness where warp and weft colours merge to give a shot hue.
2.Check the quality of the silk which should be pure, thick and glossy
Both the pallu and the body should have the same weight of thick and glossy silk. There should be no compromise on the silk quality as it is the purity of fabric which makes Kanchipuram silk sarees one of the most favorite silk sarees in India and abroad. These are woven with a thick three-ply thread whereas cheaper imitations use 2 ply lighter thread, to make these sarees. Also, to check purity of silk pull out a few threads from the warp and weft and light the ends with a matchstick. It will burn into a ball of ash. If you rub this ash between your finger tips and smell it, it should smell like burnt hair or burnt leather. The ash of an imitation artificial fibre will most probably not occur on burning and instead the thread will just brilliantly flame up with a different smell.
3.Check the quality of the zari
If you wish to buy an authentic Kanchipuram silk saree the zari must be checked for real silver dipped in 22-carat pure gold. A simple way is to pull the zari apart. Real zari is made by wrapping the real silver thread around a red silk thread and then dipped into liquid gold. Fake zari will have a white or any other color thread inside!
4.Look out for the typical zari motifs and themes of the Kanchipuram saree
Kanchipuram temples are inspiration for this saree. You should find flowers, vines, animals, birds and yalis sourced from the intricate carvings of their temples. Motifs are also used on the body like the coin motif, jasmine bud design, mango or paisley as well. Broad and thin as stripes and checks with zari or coloured thread are also used.
Buying a Kanchipuram silk saree is like buying ancient art, blended with age old traditions and creative discipline. Look up the wide range of Kanchipuram silk sarees at www.vijayalakshmisilks.com and take home a piece of history with you.