No southern bride’s trousseau is complete without the exquisite Kanjeevaram
Inspired by the Meenakshi temple, the sarees are an ode to divinity.
Legend has it that Sage Markanda, weaver of the gods, wove silk from lotus petals to clothe the divinity. It is this expertise that the weavers of the exquisite Kanjeevaram sarees in Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu, lay claim to as their heritage.
The origins of the saree go back 400 years; the designs are said to be inspired by the Meenakshi temple in Madurai. Some special sarees even have the temple deity woven on them in golden zari. Several mythological creatures that adorn the temple walls, mandapams, pillars and ceilings form other motifs. For instance, purity and elegance have been symbolised on these sarees by the annapakshi – a mythological bird, part-swan and part-peacock. The grandeur of the yali – an animal with griffin-like features which is part-elephant, part-lion and part-horse – has always been an indispensable part of the Kanjeevaram canvas. Holy symbols such as the rudraksh, the classic chakra and the beautiful mallige mogu or jasmine flower add charm and grace to these sarees.
The process of creating this ‘ode to divinity’ takes at least 10-15 days. Patterns such as the Korvai – where the borders are woven separately and interlaced with the body of the saree – take longer with entire families involved in the making of a single saree.