This week, we look at some Kanjivaram sari motifs that have stood the test of time for centuries. Unfailingly popular, these lovely designs are virtual must-haves in the collection of every Kanjivaram sari user.
The annapakshi or mythical swan is one of Tamil Nadu’s most distinctive cultural icons. Depicted in temple architecture as a plump-breasted bird with ornate tail feathers, the annapakshi, according to mythology has white plumage symbolizing purity of spirit. It is gifted with extraordinary powers to discern between good and evil and is capable of separating milk from water. The annapakshi’s stylized depiction makes it a perfect motif for Kanjivaram saris. A row of strutting annapakshis makes for a rich, arresting border. Woven as a large zari motif on the sari pallu, the annapakshi is positively magnificent!
Like the annapakshi, the mango reflects the tradition of featuring local flora and fauna as design motifs. The king of fruits is a hugely popular motif, featured on every part of the Kanjivaram sari. Plump golden mangoes in zari, bordering a plain, richly hued sari are pleasing to the eye. Another classic design is tiny mangoes scattered sparsely across the body of the sari for an elegant effect.
There’s no escaping the iconic temple motif, another instantly identifiable cultural marker. The serrated motif, in varying sizes, is simple yet dramatic, enlivening the most sober of background colours. Weavers also feature the temple motif as small triangles in combination with other motifs on every part of the sari.
The paisley originated in ancient Persia, travelled to India with the Mughals and remains firmly embedded as a decorative element in many parts of the country. Its stylized mango outline is typically filled with myriad floral patterns remarkable for their intricacy and delicate beauty. Kanjivaram saris frequently feature large paisleys woven across sari pallus, where a weaver can give free rein to his creativity. Symmetrical paisleys woven across the body of a sari are inspired by the hand block prints of Sanganer, Rajasthan.
Have a look at a lot more beautiful saris with these motifs housed at Sarangi here.