Weaving Designs and Motifs of Kanchipuram Silk Sarees

by Shatika, January 5, 2017

Be it because of the lure of its pure mulberry silk or the dazzle of its real zari motifs, the Kanchipuram silk saree continues to hold the pride of place among the various varieties of silk sarees in the country today. Its rich weave and feel holds everyone in its sway and even today it is the preferred bridal saree because of its durability and grandeur.


The designs showcased on Kanchipuram silk sarees are woven in pure zari threads and their motifs range from figures to temple towers along the border. The motifs of these silk sarees most often comprise of Pallava temples, palaces and paintings. The traditional designs found on the body of a Kanjeevaram saree include pyramidal temple borders, checks, stripes and floral buttas.

Earlier, designs were restricted to conservative stripes or gold dots. However, over time emblematic motifs such as fresh mango, sweet grapes elephant, the sun, moon, chariots, swans, elegant peacocks, parrots, lions, coins, lotus, pot, creeper, flower, parrot, hen, and depiction of stories from mythology are woven into the saree in patterns.


Some of the traditional motifs featured in the Kanjeevaram saris are Rudraksham (Rudraksha beads), Gopuram (temple towers), ‘mallimogu’(jasmine flower), ‘mayilkan’ (peacock’s eye), ‘kuyilkan’ (nightingale eye) borders. Patterns are also formed with the help of lines and squares. The jasmine flower motifs either on their own or inside a square or round frame are called mallim0gu. The Thandavalam motif has parallel-line motifs running all over the body of the sari while in the pattu motif, the pallu and the border alone have floral motifs independently woven on them.

Today’s designs are more contemporary but these modern motifs continue to lend a festive touch with their magnificent grandeur. One can even see representation of grand paintings by Raja Ravi Verma or scenes from the great epics Ramayana and Mahabharata on the richly woven pallus and sometimes borders of these modern Kanchipattu sarees, thus encouraging creativity and contempt without compromising on their traditional values and opulence.

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