It is said that Kanjeevaram sarees are crafted out of Silk because it is considered to be the valued by Lord Vishnu, just as cotton is for Lord Shiva. Woven from pure mulberry silk, Kanjivaram silk are loved and aspired across the country.
Inspired with images and scriptures in South Indian temples or natural figures like leaves, birds and animals, these saris come with brilliant colors and wide contrasting borders. They come with rich woven border and pallu showing paintings of Raja Ravi Varma and also the holy epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana. As per history, the weavers from South Indian states like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka got aid from the rulers.
Kanjivaram saris vary widely in cost depending upon the intricacy of designer work, shades, pattern and material used like zari etc. Often indicated by a zigzag line is the part where the body meets the pallu. As a matter of fact the interlocking of the body and border (each woven separately) makes the Kanjivaram silk saris notable compared to other saris. The joint is woven so strongly that the border does not detach even if the saris tears.
In a genuine Kanjivaram silk sari, the zari is woven to create intricate patterns. The gold fused with the motifs is obtained by dipping silk thread in liquid gold and silver. The contemporary Kanjeevaram sarees of today utilize the substitutes for traditional zari because the price of gold has tremendously increased. Yet, these attractive saris reign over the variety of saris available.
In ancient times, when precious metals was affordable, real Zari was made from fine silver or gold alloys. A thread is drawn and flattened by passing it through equal pressure rotating rollers. The flattened silver threads are wound on the base yarn made of silk. These reels of silk and silver threads are pressed together for electroplating. The threads are then plated with gold during the process of electroplating. By passing them through a brightener, the luster of the gold threads greatly rises. Later, the threads taken out are ready to be wounded on a reel. The price of a Kanjivaram sari depends hugely on the amount and the purity of the zari.
With the increase in cost of bullion, the weavers in order to cut cost have come up with imitation techniques. Various modern colors and chemicals are used to impart a golden hue instead of pure gold. Metallic zari came into trend by replacing traditional metals like gold, silver & copper. This non-genuine modern zari is light in weight and more durable when compared to earlier editions.
The original weavers of Kanjivaram, who are believed to be the descendants of sage Markanda, and the craftsmen of today are continuing with their tradition. This sari depicts the dedication of weavers towards their work. The art of creating the perfect zari is relatively unknown. Today, only a handful of families possess the knowledge of zari making and the skill is preserved by crafting the most precious and sort after Kanjiparam saris.