‘Woven Air’ – The Charm of Chanderi

by Shatika, November 16, 2016

Referred to as ‘Woven Air’, the unmatched transparency and the sheer texture of a Chanderi fabric is rather rare and is not easily found in any other textile in the world. The yarns used in making Chanderi fabric are of very high quality and are extra fine. They are of single flature quality which means that the glue of the raw yarn is not removed. Because of this non-degumming of the raw yarn, the finished fabric has a peculiar shine and it is extremely transparent, resulting in its distinguished sheer texture. This special transparent yarn is used in both warp and weft in different varieties of Chanderi fabric and is used accordingly in varied configurations. The resultant fabric thus produced is Chanderi silk, Chanderi cotton and Chanderi silk cotton.

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Though the Chanderi textile is garnering more popularity as dress materials, duppatas, stoles and scarfs in recent times, Chanderi has always been a renowned centre for traditional weaving of sarees. Even today, it is the Chanderi sarees that with their unmatched sophistication and class are popular among the saree wearers of upper middle class.

The oldest and the most ancient variety of Chanderi saree has been the Chanderi cotton which began in the 1890’s. In the year 1910, the royal family of Scindia took Chanderi sarees under their wings and it is during their times that gold thread motifs made their presence on the Chanderi cotton sarees for the first time. This further led to the introduction of the silk yarn in 1930s when the Chanderi weavers discovered Japanese silk and they not only substituted the cotton warps in cotton sarees with it but also developed a silk-by-silk variety that appealed the royalty and the affluent section of the society. The chanderi silk cotton saree, woven using both silk and cotton yarn is a fairly recent product of Chanderi and it began being produced only in the second half of the twentieth century.

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Intricately woven by hand and interspersed with the delicacy of the extra weft motifs, Chanderi sarees have for times immemorial satisfied the refined tastes of the royalty and they continue to impress modern fashionistas with their refined quality and class. The weavers involved in the process of making these sarees are well experienced and long standing in the trade. Some of the beautiful and striking motifs that comprise these sarees are ‘Nalferma, ‘Dandidar, ‘Chatai’, ‘Jangla’, ‘Mehndi wale’ and haath’. Involvement of 3,500 active looms and 15,000+weavers in making of these sarees just show the popularity of these invincible sarees even today.

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