TGIF Motifs - Manga: The king of fruits and fabrics

Motifs are the foundational element upon which a pattern is designed and developed. With nature as a muse and inspiration from various cultural, architectural and socio-economic factors, each motif in the Indian design directory is distinct, dynamic and full of life. They also hold the key to our past, with the many eras and dynasties shaping their shapes, shades and styles. With rich stories to tell and strong beliefs to share, in this week's blog, we will be uncovering the magic behind the beloved manga motif, which is representative of life and eternity.


One motif. Many names.
An endearing and enduring motif with a special place in Indian mythology, this fruity favourite has travelled across the length and breadth of the country and has left an everlasting impression in every destination. Dating back to the 18th century, the motif is known as the manga and mankolam in south India, as ambi, kairi and kalga in north India, as boteh jegheh in Persia and as Paisley internationally. 


The origin of this humble motif can be traced back to multiple instances in our mythological tales and folklore, with the most famed one being the tale in which a young Lord Ganesha contested for the ripe mango fruit with his brother Lord Muruga by travelling around the world 3 times. Legend also has it that the Lord of Love, Kamadeva, used to shoot mango flower tipped arrows to invoke love, and thus making it an auspicious symbol of fertility. In accordance with this, women across South India adorn themselves with a Mangamaali - a mango-shaped pendant. The Jain Mother Goddess, Ambika or Amba, is depicted holding a mango in one hand and a mango tree in the other, showing how the significance of this fruit prevailed across multiple religious beliefs.

Another mythological story tells us how Lord Parvati was once doing penance under the 3,500-year-old mango tree located in the premises of the Ekambareshwar temple in Kanchipuram. And when Lord Shiva came to her, he was known as Ekambareswarar or "Lord of the Mango Tree". One can still see the fossil of this very mango tree, called the Sthala Vruksham, which denotes the special bond between the manga motif and Kanchipuram weaves.

As a design element, its origin can be traced back to around 221 AD, in Persia, and particularly the Sassanid dynasty. The teardrop-shaped motif was called the “bote jegheh” and represented the Cypress tree in Zoroastrianism, which was said to symbolise everlasting life.

 


As the national fruit, India has the richest collection of mango cultivars, with over 1000 different indigenous varieties. In a fitting tribute to the king of fruits, our country is also ranked number 1 in being the highest mango producer and accounts for over 50% of the world's mango production.


Weaving sweet surprises
An evergreen favourite amongst weavers and artisans across the country, the manga motif makes a mandatory appearance in Kanchipuram silk sarees, Lucknowi Chikankari embroidery and Kashmiri Pashmina shawls.

Featured in a spectrum of shades and sizes, it is woven on the border as a string of dainty manga motifs and on the body as intricately crafted buttas. The South Indian version of this motif is more attuned with times and features elaborate patterns enclosed within the manga motif, making it more stylised. Whereas the North Indian version retains its characteristic shape and has longer curves.

Drapes that are interwoven with this motif are deemed highly auspicious and are considered as a symbol of fertility, making it a preferred pick for occasions like weddings and baby showers. At Sundari Silks, we take immense pride in bringing forth weaves interspersed with motifs such as the Manga, which speaks volumes about our country's rich cultural legacy.

 

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