Everything You Need to Know About Chanderi
Chanderi, a small town in Madhya Pradesh, is among the most popular handloom locations in India. And what is it best known for? Its ancient weaving expertise that produces intricately textured cotton and silk fabrics embellished with rich zardozi work.
The history of Chanderi dates back to the eleventh century. At that time, the town was a major route for trading because of its proximity to the old ports of the Deccan and Central India (particularly Malwa).
The Chanderi Fabric
Chanderi is a hamlet of looms and a majority of them are located in an area called ‘Bahar Shahar’. Here, the streets are lined with noisy looms with each artisan claiming ownership of at least 2 to 4 looms (there are over 3500 looms in the township!). Raw materials are collected by the artisans from major traders in India and abroad (Japan, Korea and China) in order to produce rich Chanderi fabrics.
The traditional Indian fabric of Chanderi is known for its sheer texture, its light weight and luxurious drape. There are mainly three types of fabrics produced by the Chanderi: pure silk, silk cotton and chanderi cotton. There has been a significant transformation in the motif designs of Chanderi over the years. Today, in addition to florals, peacocks and ancient coin patterns, Chanderi is also seen in modern geometric designs.
The manufacturing of Chanderi fabric takes place with the weaving in of silk and zari. It is mostly done in old-fashioned cotton yarns and the end product is a glorious and shimmering textured fabric!
The Famous Chanderi Silk Saree
Chanderi silk is undoubtedly a brand in the local garment industry. The ancient Sanskrit literature, including the 1200 B.C Rig Veda and the Mahabharata, provide interesting references to the famous Chanderi silk saree.
The Scindian royal family patronized Chanderi sarees in 1910 and during this period, we saw the appearance of the golden thread motif. However, the love for this fabric was greatly intensified in the Mughal era. The queens in the country were often seen flaunting Chanderi silk garments in courts and on special occasions.
It was in the 1930s that Chanderi weavers got their hands on Japanese silk and started substituting it in cotton saree warps. They also managed to develop a special silk-by-silk variant since it earned them higher profits.
The Chanderi fabric has certain key features that lend it its distinctive feel and appearance:
- The motifs or buttis seen on Chanderi silk (and other Chanderi fabrics) are hand woven. Artisans use separate needles for creating different motifs on handloom. Some of the beautiful striking motifs on Chanderi fabric include ‘Nalferma’, ‘Chatai’, ‘Dandidar’, ‘Jangla’, ‘Ashrafi’, ‘Bundi’, ‘Churi’ and ‘Keri’.
- The characteristic translucency in the Chanderi fabric is due to a special feature of the yarn called ‘Single Falture’. When the raw yarn glue is not removed from the yarn, the non-degumming gives a certain amount of translucency and shine to the final fabric. Only Chanderi fabric has this exclusive quality and this makes it even more desirable among local and international buyers.
- Raw silk i.e. 20-22 deniers in thickness, is utilized in all saree warps today. Silk thread lends strength to the yarn and is a lot easier to weave with. It also offers a beautiful finish to the final fabric.
Contemporary Chanderi Silk Fashion
Chanderi silk sarees have always been popular for their light pastel hues. But modern times have called for brighter combinations of turquoise, fuchsia, navy blue, white, red and black. The popular borders on Chanderi garments include the nakshi and adda border. These have very intricate designs. You can also find the simple zari patela and piping borders. In the piping border, a single colour is alternated with fine strips of a different colour.
Today, both the older and younger generation are seen adorning their beautiful heritage and not just as saree drapes, but also as tunics, kurtas, scarves and bottom-wear. Chanderi silk is a highly versatile fabric and can be easily adapted to create new and trendy styles for fashion enthusiasts across the globe.
You may get an original Chanderi handspun saree for approximately 5000 INR (starting price). Chanderi kurtas, suits and dupattas are also gaining immense popularity among modern fashionistas and their pricing typically starts from somewhere around 1500 INR.
Your wardrobe is incomplete without a classy Chanderi silk garment. If you’re looking to embrace ethnic vintage fashion, get your hands on a beautiful handspun Chanderi now!