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10 Things to look out for while buying a handloom Kanchipuram saree

by Sundari Silks 19 Mar 2021
10 Things to look out for while buying a handloom Kanchipuram saree
Handloom weaves instil a great sense of pride and prestige amongst all of us. They are a symbol of our identity, culture and tradition, holding within its threads tales as old as time. One of the oldest and most prestigious handloom weaves of our country is from the majestic temple town of Kanchipuram in southern India. A well known spiritual and learning hub, the region flourished under the patronage of the Chola Dynasty. Its culture, charisma and charm made their way into the weaves, whose reflection can be seen even today. 

What distinguishes a Kanchipuram saree is the use of mulberry silk along with pure zari. With over 150 years of experience handed down through generations, the weaving families use expert techniques to twist, spin, dye and weave these threads into the glorious Kanchipuram saree. Rich gold borders and brocades, along with contrasting borders elevate its extravagance. It's no wonder that an authentic Kanchipuram silk saree is equally luxurious and expensive. To help you identify this timeless weave, here are the top 10 things to look out for. 

  1. To be able to identify a genuine Kanchipuram saree, it is important to understand the purity of the yarn it is woven from. Pure silk is of greater quality and cost when compared to its blended alternatives. For this purpose, look out for the 'Silk Mark', a certification given by the Silk Board of India only to pure Kanchipuram silk sarees.
  2. An interesting way to identify the Queen of Silks is through touch and feel. Rub the fabric between the palm of your hands; if it is a pure silk saree it will feel warm, unlike its counterparts. Additionally, the edges should feel soft and smooth without any rough or rigid texture.
  3. The regal silk sarees from Kanchipuram are said to be as lustrous and luxurious as a pearl. If it is crafted from pure silk, its shimmer and shine will reflect light according to angle giving the appearance of dual colour tones.
  4. The signature of a Kanchipuram saree is that is designed, woven and crafted manually by expert artisans through time-honoured techniques that have been passed down to them. Due to its handmade nature, it is bound to a slight unevenness when compared to a power loom weave. Keep a watch for this sign of originality and flip the saree to see the masterpiece on the reverse side.
  5. The weave is brought to life by korvai, a knotting and interlocking technique that seamlessly blends the body and the pallu, which are woven separately. This merger makes way for many interesting designs and patterns that are heavily inspired by the temple arches of South India. Look out for its blurred zig-zag pattern to identify a true Kanchipuram weave.
  6. Another key component to a Kanchipuram saree is the three shuttle weave, an ancient technique that interlocks the zari border on both ends, such that even if the saree tears, the border will not detach. So it is without a doubt that one can say that precision, perfection and passion are the hallmarks of this drape.
  7. When it comes to the handiwork on a Kanchipuram saree, zari plays a crucial role. Traditionally it is made out of pure gold and silver, but the present-day market offers substitutes in the form of imitation and tested zaris which are inexpensive and of lower quality. To identify pure zari, try scratching it gently. It should give a reddish appearance as opposed to the white look you get from the others.
  8. An interesting aspect to remember while shopping for a Kanchipuram weave is to look at the edges of the saree. Weavers pin the saree onto the loom, in the case of a handloom drape, and hence spotting pinholes is a mark of authentic techniques being used.
  9. Vintage Kanchipuram weaves are renowned for their contrasting colour palettes between the body, border and pallu. It's vibrant pleats and folds have a remarkable allure. Don't worry about its rich colours fading over time. If it's a pure Kanchipuram silk saree, the colours will remain intact and get better over time. Although it is important you take the right steps in maintaining and storing the weave.
  10. Last but not least, a fascinating test to check if it is a pure Kanchipuram saree is the ring test. It is believed that a saree that passes through a ring easily is a genuine one.  

Indulging and investing in a Kanchipuram saree requires a great deal of thought and tests. At Sundari Silks, we take great pride in crafting and curating an extensive array of Kanchipuram weaves that are the perfect amalgamation of classic and contemporary worlds. Over and beyond this, we believe in utmost transparency and trust with our customers. From the type of fabric to the weaving techniques to the zari used, every aspect is mentioned upfront to enable you to make a well-informed choice. 
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