Colours and motifs in our Kanchipuram sarees add sparkle to our celebrations of festivals and weddings. The love for ornamentation binds our whole nation together; in our Kanchipuram saris, we have superlative examples of artistry and craftsmanship.
The Kanchipuram weavers produced elaborate designed textiles with their own distinctive patterns. The zari motifs were used a surface embellishment and provided a new dimension to the visual appeal of a “pattu pudavai”
Greatly influenced by nature's resplendent beauty - the sun, moon, stars, rivers, trees flowers and birds, the motifs had ascribed meanings and were incorporated as embellishments in weaving or printing . Any motifs used would have an inter connection with various art forms like paintings, architectural carvings, textile, jewellery and so on.
The special patterns in Kanchipuram sarees were not just decorations but had a strong symbolic connotation and reflected the various components of daily life. Weavers used a variety of classical motifs like gopuram, swan, peacocks, lotus, animals, floral creepers which were in existence for more than two thousand years!
Several geometric patterns such as squares, diagonal lines, circular forms were used in borders and for background decoration on the body of the saree. Sometimes floral, animal or bird motifs were incorporated with these. The weavers gave wings to the sculpture and patterns found on the walls of Tamilnadu temples and used this natural treasure trove to translate their imaginations!
Birds and animals have been a dominant subject in our temple sculptures and woven motifs. While an Indian elephant represents royalty, power, wisdom, fertility, longevity, peacocks are a favourite in Sanskrit poetry. The contrast borders in our silks had patterns of rows of animals, flora and fauna, sometimes even mythical animals like Yali, ganda-berunda.
Some borders have bead motifs like rudraksham, kodi visri (floral motifs) and mayilkann (peacocks’ eye) and kuyilkann (nightingale's eye)
In the body embellishments, the weavers design twin coloured horizontal shades alternating in the body. Called as “Aathi vazhai” resembling the stripes of a banana flower, this is one of the most sought traditional design. Sometimes, zari brocade is used as an additional ornamentation to derive special patterns.
A vintage design of “veldhari’ makes a great ornamentation in this sari. The neli lines are a symbolic motif of the toe ring which will be worn by a new bride on her wedding day.
The vibrant colours, motifs and time-honed craftsmanship of Kanchipuram sarees are a unique identity to the very heart and soul of Tamilnadu. No wonder these wonderful weaves from Kanchipuram are highly prized heirlooms and are passed down from generation to generation.