Nature has been a source of inspiration for motifs in Kanchipuram silk sarees, and this week’s blog is about one such unique motif, a wish-fulfilling tree or The Tree of Life, also called as Kalpa Vruksha, which was first mentioned in the Rig Veda.
Kalpa Vruksha was one of the gems that came out of the ocean during the churning process and is referred to as the Samudra Manthan.It was a special tree which symbolised life and prosperity. The divine tree could fulfil the wishes of men and be highly venerated
Motifs play an important role in designing any art; whether it is textile, sculpture or jewellery. The creativity is in making it either as a recurring design or as an elaborative one. In a Kanchipuram saree, it is used as a driving force, expertly capturing its lifelike quality.
The tree of life motif is usually used as a stand-alone motif on the pallu with a tree full of birds, animals and flowers, symbolising creation and resurrection. It is woven, painted or block printed in a lot of Indian textiles.
The symbol of a tree was sacred and represents life, endurance, growth and prosperity. Each and every religion in India adopted various species. In Buddhism, the bodhi tree symbolized enlightenment. Jainism considered the tradition of Kalpa tharus as holy. In Hinduism, the Kalpa Vruksha includes many varieties of trees like the banyan, pipal and the parijatha flowering tree.
While a well-established mind is equated to Kalpa Vruksha in yoga, the wish-fulfilling tree shows the sacredness of trees and plants that are deeply rooted in Indian tradition. This motif symbolizes the “giver” who provides spiritual and materialistic desires. The popular motif in art adorns Islamic architecture too! Such a motif remains a perennial favourite, and would never go out of style.