Six yards of tradition
AFTER A hiatus of 10 years, the famous Shilpi Saris of Madras is making a comeback to the Capital. The city plays host to an exhibition of Shilpi at The Dastakar Exhibition Hall till this coming Saturday. Now Delhiites don't have to travel all the way to Chennai to get these most-sought-after saris. They are available right here.
The special attraction is that that those ladies who don't even get a chance to take a dekko at kandanghi saris from Chettinad, can now not only see them in kaleidoscopic colours but also get them at lesser amount. The Chettinad sari -- which epitomises beauty in its true splendour and drama -- has been prepared by Visalakshmi Ramaswamy. There is an exotic selection of Tussar and silk saris, dupattas and fabric embellished with tribal and folk motifs. The fabric has been woven and handicrafted not only in Chennai but other cities.
What had commenced in a small way has become a store specialising in saris, garments and household linen, which are a manifestation of our rich cultural heritage. In fact, these saris epitomise India's glorious textile tradition.
Shilpi was started by Arundhati Menon and Bamini Narayanan way back in October 1980. The duo is confident that there will be revival of traditional Indian wear. The craftsman and weavers will come out triumphant against Western machine made garments. Menon says, "Cotton saris start from Rs. 880, kalamkari begin from Rs. 1,680 while silk saris commence from Rs. 3000."
There is history attached to Chettinad saris. Earlier, the Chettinad saris -- woven in vegetable colours like black, red and yellow -- were draped in the traditional style, Pin Kosuvam, by the women of this region, where the pleats were worn on the back. The original saris were thick and they were worn without a blouse. Cotton used to be the fabric, silk and pure silk, depending on the occasion. Black was used less frequently not because it was considered superstitious to wear it but because it wasn't as durable as other colours. Occasionally blue and green were used.
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