The vivid colours and opulence of the heavy Kanjivaram saree are iconic, as are its designs inspired by the grand temples of the land it comes from. But few who drape this or admire its richness realise how old this silk is or even how it represents a coming together of traditions which thrived under the royal patronage of the Pallava rulers who lorded over the town of Kancheepuram, where it comes from.
Scholars trace the origins of the Kanjivaram silk industry to the patronage of the Chola dynasty, which succeeded the Pallavas. Its transition from a local craft to a massive thriving industry happened only 500 years later, in the reign of Krishna Deva Raya (1509-1529 CE), the ruler of Vijayanagara Empire. During his reign, the weaving communities of Andhra Pradesh, the Devangas and Saligars, migrated south and settled in different parts of the empire.
The Kanjivaram silk sarees are prepared from pure raw silk known as mulberry silk and are characterised by the heavy use of zari in gold and silver. Though the actual weaving takes place at Kancheepuram in Tamil Nadu, the silk for the same comes from Karnataka and the zari is brought from Surat in Gujarat.
The Kanjivaram Saree is counted among the most iconic in the country. But there is a crying need to preserve this fragile tradition. We, at PeepulTree, are working closely with traditional weavers from far corners of India and helping preserve and popularise the legacy of our crafts. At PeepulTree, you can find a beautiful range of Kanjivarams, adding opulence to your closet.