Kandanghi Sarees of KaraikudiKaraikudi in Tamil Nadu state is part of what is commonly referred to as the Chettinad region. Well, you have surely heard about Chicken Chettinad or must have read about beautiful and palatial houses built here spreading across Sivaganga and Pudukottai districts.
Karaikudi is famous for art and craft such as wood carving, brass metal work, palm leaf baskets known as Chettinad kottan, silver/brass oil lamps known as Kuthu Villakku, jewellery, egg plastering, architecture and Athangudi tiles made from local soil. This is not all! The lovely Kandanghi sarees of Karaikudi are famous all over the globe.
Exquisite Kandanghi SareesThese are exquisite sarees made in Karaikudi. These are also known as Kandanghi Handloom sarees. These are traditional sarees worn not only by women in South India but also admired by women all over India and saree lovers in other parts of the world. Just like the doorways in Karaikudi are beautifully sculpted, these sarees too are intricately woven.
Kandanghi sarees are also called Kandanki sarees or Chettinad cotton sarees. They are thick and coarse cotton sarees and are capable of withstanding the roughest washes! Most commonly used patterns are checks and temple borders with shades ranging from orange, brown, brick red, chrome and earthly reds. Nowadays, new patterns and designs are also experimented with but the traditional artisan families stick to old age customary designs.
These sarees are primarily made of cotton. Checks of bright colours are woven in these sarees. Tools that are used for weaving Kandanghi sarees include winding machine, loom, shuttle and bobbin.Raw materials which are utilized include cotton yarns, colours, dyes and ash.
Process of Weaving Kandanghi SareesThe process of weaving the much famous cotton Kandanghi sarees commences with making of warp and weft. Weavers bring cotton yarn and dye these in desired colours. The dyeing process is either carried out at home or is sent to local dyers. After this starts the spinning process. The cotton yarns are placed on the winding machine for the purpose of spinning. This can also be done manually. Now the yarn is collected on spools.
Then the artisans start with the warping process in which the spools are taken on the warping machine for making warp on large wooden machines! As the weaving progresses, the weft yarn is wound on a plastic cylinder from the hank. This is completed by family members.
The older women take up the piecing process. In this process, the existing ends are joined with ends from the new warp by twisting. When the loom is loaded with warp, the process of weaving starts. The broken warp is mended manually by the artisans. The woven saree is wrapped on wooden frame - at regular intervals. Threads of diverse colours are used by artisans while weaving in order to create designs on the saree.
Finally, the saree is brought out of the loom, folded and packed. These are sold in nearby states, different parts of India and even exported to foreign countries. No doubt, this small place - Chettinad in Karaikudi is surely going places! By dint of hard work, skill and passion, the artisans are contributing their bit to keep the age old traditional art form alive! If you travel to Karaikudi, do buy a Kandanghi saree for yourself or to gift it to your loved one.
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