The fortunes of Chanderi have always been entwined with the fortunes of its weaves. However potent be the history of this iconic town that finds a mention even in the epic Mahabharata, it remains incomplete without a mention of its centuries’ old artistic tradition.
There is no written record as to when and how weaving began in Chanderi but considering particular events in history it is possible to suggest that the inception of weaving began soon after the great Sufi reverend, Hazrat Wajihuddin, migrated to Chanderi. Hazrat Wajihuddin Yusuf was a khalifa of the great sufi saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya. In the reign of Allauddin Khilji, he was ordered by Hazrat Nizamuddin to go and settle in Chanderi and work for the people there. He reached Chanderi in 1305, established his khanqah and soon gained thousands of followers. These devotees came not only from Chanderi and the surrounding areas but places as far flung as Bengal. Meer Khurd in his book Siyar-ul-Aulia mentions that many devotees especially from Lakhnauti, which is near Dhaka, not only visited Hazrat Wajihuddin but even decided to settle down in Chanderi. It was most probably this group of people that began the practice of weaving in Chanderi as Dhaka was a major weaving centre even in those times.
The mention of the fine silken fabric of Chanderi began appearing in books within fifty years of this probable commencement. The Ain-e-Akbari, written by Abul Fazl during the Mughal emperor Akbar’s reign, talks about the fine weaves of Chanderi. The writer of Ma’asir-e-Alamgiri, written during Aurangzeb’s reign, informs us of the existence of an imperial workshop in Chanderi which produced an extremely fine cloth, with gold and silver worked into it. The 1907 Gazetteer of the Princely state of Gwalior confirms the continuation of the old tradition of weaving in Chanderi. It also states that during the reign of the Bundelas, the cloth was marked with their seal which consisted of a crown flanked by two prancing lions. Thus it is clear that the antiquity of the handloom industry in Chanderi goes at least as far back as the 14th century and in the beginning this exceptional fabric could only be afforded by the royalty and the very rich.
A personal favourite of royalty, Chanderi saree is full of finesse and beauty. Silk known for its sheer texture and light weight, it makes a delightful wear especially considering warm climate of India. This fine saree was inspired by royal weaves worn by the queens of yester years and the queens of today. We all have the right to feel royal and special and the Chanderi saree allows that generously. Its elegance and sophistication is hard to match.
A CHANDERI SAREE IS A DELIGHT WHICH SHOULD NOT BE DENIED TO WOMEN OF TODAY OR TOMORROW.
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