Customers can order replicas of vintage sarees on display

Many women consider their silk wedding sari their most precious possession. Carefully ironed and wrapped in a soft cloth, it could last long, even as long as 100 years.

The 106 saris displayed at the ongoing National Handloom Expo- 2012 organised by Co-optex, evokes memories of your grandmother and her warmth. The collection of pure silk saris belongs to residents of Chennai and have been categorised as those purchased from 1912 to 1997.

Subarna Chatterjee, a designer with Co-optex, explained that the oldest sari, belonging to K.Kandasamy of Jawahar Nagar near Perambur, was one with brocade work, for which Banaras is famous.

“It is my grandmother's sari. Neither me, nor my father, have seen her so we have kept it safely wrapped in our pooja room. After my grandmother, my sister has worn it once as my father wanted to see her wearing it,” he said.

If customers make a request, Co-optex would replicate the saris on display at the exhibition, which is on till March 5 at the Thillaiyadi Valliammai complex in Egmore. The handloom expo, which opened on 10 February, has 110 stalls displaying some of the finest collections in cotton and silk from all over the country. The expo is open from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. on week days and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. during the weekend.

Daphne Don of Kilpauk, who had come to shop for cottons with her mother Ruth Premnath, said that this was the first time she was looking at such a wide variety of saris and salwar-kameez material in handloom. “I considered Co-optex to be outmoded but I changed my opinion today,” she said.

People walk into the exhibition looking to buy towels, bedspreads and door mats even.

M. Senthil and Revathi of Villivakkam, who were seen looking through export quality material of Co-optex, said they had seen a good variety in dress material but not everything suited their budget of Rs.500.

The Bhavani Jamakaalam (carpet) stall, a popular one among bulk buyers, had people taking a look at the various sizes from 3 ft x 6 ft to 16ft x20ft. V. Mani of the Bhavani Society said their shop at Bhavani witnessed daily sales of Rs. 1.5 lakh everyday. “Many schools purchase our material. We also make silk carpets for weddings with the names of couples and those are very famous. But here in the city many people don't seem to prefer or even know about our work,” he said.

Apart from over 600 varieties of cotton and silk saris from different areas of Tamil Nadu, the exhibition has on display, saris from many other Indian States. These include traditional Pochampalli, Venkatagiri, and Mangalgiri prints from Andhra Pradesh, printed sarees from Jaipur, Bandhani from Gujarat, Bengal cotton sarees and Chantheri sarees from Madhya Pradesh. Kashmiri silk shawls, furnishing material, towels, dress material are also on display.


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