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Indian Traditional Textiles

Chanderi Sari and fabric


I, K.Ramachandran, A Textile Designer of Weavers Service Centres, involved in a small research to collect the so far authentic informations regarding the Chanderi Sari and Fabric. I collected facts and informations from the few sources available to me and cross- verified them within these sources and presenting here the facts, which I felt near to authenticity. Originally the Chanderi fabrics were the lightest Muslins woven in fine handspun Cotton yarn. The import of mill spun 120 to 200 count Manchester yarn via Culcutta in the late 18th and the early 19th CenturyTS, wiped out this local strain of Chanderi Cotton. I concentrated only in this Cotton Muslin weaving, Which flourished in Chanderi, till Silk was introduced in 1930s.
21st century

The Chanderi Handspun Cotton Muslin


The Handspun Cotton yarn spinned by the community called Katiyas were upto 200 to 300 counts .The fabrics were completely plain, had a very narrow border of complementary-zari warp and for the saris in addition TS to these borders the end pieces contained a few narrow zari bands, or one single wider band (ILL-1,2). Chanderi was also well known for weaving an extremely fine zari patti or zari band as selvedge , known as the Piping KinarSI.(ILL-3) The sizing medium for the fine count cotton in Chanderi was prepared from a special root collected from nearby forests, called the Kolikanda. It remained light and giving it strength as well as a round polish finish.
s s SI

Millspun cotton yarn

Britishers imported Millspun cotton yarn From Manchester

Colour
The Chanderi saris which were woven in the natural white cotton, and were then washed in saffron to give them their charecteristic golden hue and fragrance. Interestingly the colour was introduced to Chanderi in nineteen fifties onlySI.

Buti decoration
The motives were picked by hand until the Benarasi jala buti technique was introdused in nineteen fourties . CN One famous Chanderi Charecteristic buti is Ashrafi(means gold coin) .Kalgi is another typical Chanderi Motif that runs along the edge of the border.Churi, Bundi, Keri, Phul-patti, Phul-Butta, Akhrot, Paan, Eeth, Suraj Buti, Meena Buti, Kirkita, Rui Phul kinar, Kalgi, Ghoongra, Khajura were some other motives used in Chanderi SarisCN. Many of the patterns like creeping vines, various buttis, jaldhar and meenakari were influenced by BanarasTS. authors note No clear evidence is available at which period, from plain weaving the buti weaving started, to Decorate the fabric or the sari. According to The Saris of India ,Madhya pradesh The butis in the body of the sari were introduced only in the early 20th century, at first in the Odhinis or veils, means earliar to that there was no buti weaving or only the end piece had butis? At which period they started weaving the butis? In the Handspun period or in the brief millspun cotton warp and weft period or after the silk was introduced in the warp?
SI

12th century

13th century

16th century

The sizing brush was dipped in coconut oil which gave it greater supplenessSI. The fabrics, saris were woven in Throw shuttle pit looms. Both the Golden borders and the Cotton body were woven by using the time consuming three shuttle Naal pherna technique (two shuttles for both the golden SI borders and one shuttle for the cotton body) which required two weavers at a time . The saris woven with this CN three shuttle weave were called Nalferwan saris . Even today in the classic Chanderi sari layout, the end piece consisted of the border elements repeated twice (as two parallel bands) often with narrow woven lines and many buttis woven in between them. Butti would TS also appear in the field .

17th century

Handspun cotton yarn

Silk yarn
14th century 19th century 15th century 18th century 11th century 20th century

Silk came to Chanderi in 1930s

History of Chanderi weavingCN In the biginning, weavers were mostly muslims. In 1350, Koshti weavers from Jhansi migrated to Chanderi and settled down there. The antiquity and importance of Chanderi as a weaving centre is clearly established by the presence there, in the 17th century, of an imperial Mughal Kharkhana.The Chanderi kharkhana supplied high quality fabrics to the Mughal court . In 1677 however, the emperor Aurangzeb apparently ordered its closure. The Bundela Rajput rulers(1605-1818) patronised and encouraged the weaving of textile fabrics in Chanderi.

Emperor Jahangir
this miniature painting shows the fineness and transparency of the muslin fabric
In nineteenth century Diaphanous cotton safas(turbans) and saris,edged with golden borders and end pieces were woven mostly for the courts of central and western India such as those Gwalior,Indore, Baroda and Nagpur, a tradition that persisted until the desolution of the princely states.

Fine Muslin Costume


Maharaja Yashwant Rao Holkar

Diaphanous cotton safas(turbans)

The declain

CN

Over the years Chanderi saris have undergone many changes.The handspun yarn, which gave the fabric its gossamer quality, has been replaced by imported silk in the warp and by mill made cotton thread or unboiled silk in the weft. In 1920s The British imported cheaper 120 to 200 count cotton mill made yarn from Manchester via Calcutta,which greatly eroded the market for the original handspuned cotton Chanderi fabric. It is said that around 1930 Japanese silk came to Chanderi via Calcutta and was introduced in to the warp, while cotton was retained in the weft of the Chanderi sari. Since the single silk warp yarn is not degummed the threads tend to crack and break, if the fabric is kept in a folded condition for a long time.These substitutions have led to deterioration in the quality of the Chanderi sari.

History of Chanderi

CN

Chanderis history starts from the 11th century. Chanderi is mentioned by the Persian scolar Alberuni in 1030. Ghias ud din Balban captured the city in 1251for Nasir ud din Mahmud, Sultan of Delhi. Sultan Mahmud I Khilgi of Malwa captured the city in 1438 after a siege of several months. In 1520 rana sanga of mewar captured the city, and gave it to Medin rai, a rebellious minister of Sultan Mahmud II of Malwa. The Mughal Emperor Babur captured the city from Medini Rai, and in 1540 it was captured by Sher Shah Suri, and added to the governorship of Sujaat Khan. The Mughal Emperor Akbar made the city a sankar in the subah of Malwa. The Bundela Rajputs captured the city in 1586 and it was held by Ram Sab, a son of Raja Madhukar of Orchha. In 1680 Devi Singh Bundela was made Governor of the city, and Chanderi remained in the hands of his family untill it was annexed in 1811 by Jean Baptiste Filose for the Maratha ruler Daulat Rao Sindia of Gwalior. The city was transferredto the Brittish in 1844. The british lost control of the city during the Revolt of 1857, and the city was transferred back to the Sindhias of Gwalior in 1861, and became part of Isagarh District of Gwalior state. After Indias Independence in 1947, Gwalior became part of Madhya Bharat, which was merged into Madhya Pradesh on November 1, 1956.

Sources
SI ----- Saris of India,Madhyapradhesh, Rita Kapur Chishti & Amba Sanyal, Wiley Eastern Ltd. & Amr Vastra Kosh TS -----The Sari, Lynda Lynton, -------Thames And Hudson CN ---- www.chanderi.net.in -------- MP state government website

11th century

12th century

13th century

14th century

15th century

16th century

Handspun cotton yarn


Britishers imported Millspun cotton yarn From Manchester

17th century

18th century

19th century

Silk came to Chanderi in 1930s

20th century

Millspun cotton yarn

Silk yarn
21st century