The magic is in details

A screenshot from the video by The Registry of Sarees  

The Registry of Sarees had its first pop-up event in the city with a two-day exhibition and sale of kanjeevaram silk saris at Room Therapy, Jubilee Hills. There’s no dearth of silks from Kanchi flooding the markets every wedding season. What makes an initiative like The Registry of Sarees stand out is its quest to revive old motifs and techniques and recognise a few weavers honing their craft against the onslaught of rapid mechanisation.

Browsing through the saris on display, one can spot colours and motifs one might only find in grandmother’s wardrobe. A chilly red and black sari, a mango yellow silk or a deep royal blue called the MS blue (takes its name after MS Subbulakshmi, who resplendently wore the bright blue) are colours one doesn’t see often. The saris are characterised by their ‘korvai’ thread technique of joining the border to the body of the sari, using a ‘throw shuttle’ on the loom. Some of the saris also have the ‘petni’ feature, which connects the pallu portion to the rest of the sari. The Petni is a skill and labour-intensive process.

As for the motifs and intricacies of usage, it varies from the now omnipresent jacquard to the much subtler adai technique. Kausalya Satyakumar, one of the three founders (along with Apoorva Sadanand and Ally Matthan) of Registry, explains the difference between employing the jacquard and adai technique to arrive at motifs. “Some of the old designs woven using the adai technique and simple and elegant. Designs are done in standard sizes of 120, 240 or extended to 480 hooks. If a design is done using 110 points, it can be extended only up to 120 on jacquard and the minor intricacies are lost,” she says. To arrive at patterns using the adai technique, weavers use a softer, high quality zari.

A short film, now available on view on the Facebook page of The Registry of Sarees, has national award winning weavers sharing a few insights into forgotten techniques practiced at Kanchi. B. Krishnamoorthy, a master weaver, has documented all the patterns and motifs he has learnt on a large tapestry, and hopes it will serve like a museum piece for generations of weavers. Sathiya Moorthy, a weaver whose family has been specialising in Kanchi cottons, throws light on how they work with thread temple borers on cottons, while most weavers have been traditionally doing it on silks. And Palanivelu, a weaver who works with the Registry team, explains what makes the adai technique unique. The slight irregularities in motifs and the attention given to details in hand drawing, he explains, isn’t the same as a computer replicating a pattern over a hundred times.

At a time when fewer weavers are working on korvai borders and adai techniques in the traditional manner, The Registry of Sarees hopes that a discerning clientele will learn and appreciate the work that goes into making kanjeevaram silks unique. For more details, check their Facebook page.

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Printable version | Sep 15, 2021 7:23:24 AM |

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