April 11, 2017

Motifs of the Kanjivaram

Kanjivaram motif by Sarangi, the Kanjivaram sari store

The masterful weavers of Kanchipuram have achieved a level of perfection with amazing attention to detail.

March 07, 2017

The Psychology of Colour : Red

A red rose is a symbol of romantic love.

The colour red sits on top of the rainbow. It is thought to be the first colour perceived by babies. Red embodied the secret of life to the ancients. According to the poet Yeats, 'Red is the colour of magic in every country, and has been so from the very earliest times.'

Red is the color of fire and blood. It is associated with energy, strength, power, determination, excitement, impulse as well as passion, desire and love. Red is a very emotionally intense color as it has a stimulating effect. It is an active colour that demands a response and itself demands to be noticed.

At its best, it brings out a combination of brilliance, depth and brightness. People who associate the color red with their life are very passionate people.

The reason behind red being an emotionally intense colour is that it increases metabolism and raises blood pressure. Red is associated with will power, leadership and courage. Psychologically, it tends to attract attention more than any other colour.

Red is considered the sacred colour of Lakshmi, goddess of beauty and wealth.

December 07, 2013

Voluptuous Vines

The curving beauty of creeper vines has for long inspired textile weavers across India.  From slender, leafy stems to elaborate, stylized motifs embellished with flowers and fruits, vines lend themselves wonderfully to creative expression. Besides its obvious charm, the vine bears a deeper significance, for it represents the Tree of Life

                                               

The Tree of Life is a sacred symbol which appears in folk art and cultures worldwide, a concept that is deeply embedded in humanity’s collective consciousness. Its roots thrust deep into the earth, while its branches spread out and soar up, supporting the heavens. The massive trunk is the connecting link between these worlds.

 According to Indian tradition, the peepal and banyan symbolize the Tree of Life. While the deep roots of these great trees represent the foundation of all life, the trunk and branches symbolize ancient, spiritually evolved communities, while we, human beings, are the leaves.



In artistic traditions, the Tree of Life is often depicted as a sinuous, multi-branched vine laden heavily with fruit and flowers, often home to a variety of birds and animals, a symbol of limitless abundance, fertility and the cyclical pattern of life.

Kanjivaram saris typically feature profusely flowering vines as symmetrical borders, picked out in zari or rich colours contrasting with the body of the sari. Trailing vines may be woven across the sari field or in complex patterns to embellish an ornate pallu. However they are depicted, vine motifs add grace and an ineffable charm to the feminine form.

 

Sarangi, the house of handwoven Kanjivaram Saris, is a beautiful store in Chennai, India. Its silk saris are a perfect combination of classic motifs, colours and weaves. This is the online shopping site for Kanjivarams from Sarangi.
November 30, 2013

The Resplendent Peacock

Its long, graceful body, extravagant tail and iridescent colours have inspired poets, artists, dancers and lovers through millennia – is there another bird that quite evokes the resplendent beauty of the annapakshi, or peacock?

Being the national bird of India, its beauty  is ingrained in every aspect of our culture. This gorgeous creature, a universal symbol of beauty, riches as well as  foolish vanity, has also captured the imagination of other civilizations. Artists from Byzantium and ancient Rome derived inspiration from its majestic grace; peacock images can be found in the tomb art of early Christians.

In India, peacocks were strongly associated with royalty. Their beautiful feathers were woven into fans for kings, queens and nobles. In religion, the peacock is linked with two deities, Skanda and Krishna. Artists typically depicted this bird as an absent lover in miniature paintings. However, the dance of the peacock, with the arrival of dark monsoon clouds, symbolizes courtship in popular culture.

The peacock’s alluring form and luminous colours have made it a timeless motif in Indian textile traditions including Kanjivaram saris. The peacock tail lends itself to myriad stylized depictions – as a sharp-edged triangle, a sensuously curving paisley or flaring open with hundreds of blue-green ‘eyes’. Plump peacocks strut along  sari borders in golden splendour; two peacocks facing towards or away from each other, enhance the grandeur of a fully worked pallu.

Among the many, nature inspired motifs favoured by sari weavers and all of us at Sarangi, this annapakshi  must surely rank as the most flamboyant and impressive of all! Enjoy viewing our collection of Kanjivaram silk saris featuring the annapakshi and other gorgeous motifs.

November 15, 2013

Bordered in beauty

The beauty and distinguishing element of a Kanjivaram often comes from its border. The type of border that one wants in the sari often dictates the choice of sari. The amount of zari, the motifs used, the space between motifs, the choice of contrasting colours, the width or height of the border – all these go into determining the final look of the sari’s border. In this two-part article, let us look at some of the TALL BORDERS that one would encounter while shopping for authentic, beautiful Kanjivarams.

 The Rising Border

The Rising Borders: This type of border literally rises along the length of the sari to ascend upward and around the wearer’s body. While this rising border has been present in our Kanjivaram weaves for a long time, it earned the nickname of “Airline” border keeping in mind that the rising border is like a aircraft taking off into the skies. You can wear saris with this border to accentuate your height.

Temple Borders: Usually recommended for women who enjoy the advantage of height, Kanjivarams with tall temple borders are ever popular. The temple has been one of the very popular motifs while designing saris with tall borders. The form of the temple easily lends itself to greater height while the spike of the temple spire is an inspiration for creating beautiful patterns across the body of the sari.

 Tall Borders

Rudraksh Borders: Yet another well loved tall border uses the rudraksh motif in multiple lines that run all along the border, creating a beautiful pattern for a lovely visual impact. Tall borders are usually kept to one side of the sari so that when draped, the overall impact in the front is striking and elegant.

Sarangi, the house of handwoven Kanjivaram Saris, is a beautiful store in Chennai, India. Its silk saris are a perfect combination of classic motifs, colours and weaves. This is the online shopping site for Kanjivarams from Sarangi.

 

 

November 12, 2013

The shining lights of Deepavali

From the shy, serene glow of clay diyas to brilliantly exploding fireworks, Deepavali lights up our homes and the skies, a spectacular finale to India’s festive season.

Tradition, myth, spirituality, and materialism all come together in a glorious mix in this most popular of Hindu festivals. On the one hand, Deepavali is an unabashed celebration of prosperity and good fortune, as homes across the land gear up to welcome Lakshmi, goddess of wealth, during her annual sojourn on earth. The lighting of lamps is also specifically associated with Lord Ram’s return to Ayodhya from exile, when loyal subjects lit his path with millions of gleaming deepam or lamps.

Southern India wakes up to Deepavali in the early hours of the dawn to celebrate the victory of good over evil, as symbolized in the epic battle between Lord Vishnu and the demonic Narakasura. Wherever one may live, Deepavali is a festival of bonhomie and goodwill, a time for indulgence, enjoyment, and new beginnings.

Deepavali is also a visual spectacle when homes are newly painted and rich food and sweets are prepared and served. Much of the festival’s color and brilliance of comes from the rich, traditional clothes worn on the occasion. Kanjivaram saris, with their deep, jewel tones, shimmering zari work and elaborately crafted motifs have been a favored choice among women for centuries, virtually embodying the spirit of Deepavali. With a keen eye for evolving tastes, the weavers who carry on this ancient tradition skillfully adapt new techniques to ancient designs, to create saris that are works of art.

Sarangi, the house of Kanjivaram Silk Saris, is a beautiful store in Chennai. It features a collection ranging from classics to masterpieces. Each and every Sarangi sari is handwoven with passion and perfection.This Deepavali, drape yourself in a Sarangi Kanjivaram – and feel like a goddess!
November 09, 2013

Padma

For centuries, the lotus has occupied a significant space in Indian thought, poetry, literature, art, and religions. Padma, as this graceful bloom is termed in Sanskrit, is rich in symbolism. It represents a fundamental principle of Hindu philosophy, that of maintaining purity and detachment through the vicissitudes of life. Rooted in mud and slime, the lotus rises from the darkness of its origins to float under clear skies, its leaves and flowers remaining untouched by water or mud. Ancient philosophers have extolled this natural phenomenon as an ideal to aspire for. In the words of the Bhagavad-Gita: “One who performs his duty without attachment, surrendering the results unto the Supreme Lord, is unaffected by sinful action, as the lotus leaf is untouched by water.”

 

In Buddhism, the lotus is one among the eight Auspicious Symbols, its life cycle representing the soul’s journey, from the depths of base materialism to the sunlight of enlightenment.  The Lalitsvara says: "The spirit of the best of men is spotless, like the lotus in the muddy water which does not adhere to it."

The colors and beauty of the lotus have inevitably found their way into our consciousness. Sacred texts describe Lord Krishna as “The Lotus-eyed One”. In iconography, Lakshmi, goddess of prosperity stands in a lake of pink lotus blooms, while Saraswati, goddess of knowledge sits within a white lotus.

In yogic thought, chakras – the body’s subtle energy centers – are typically shown as lotus blooms.

Of the many nature-inspired designs embraced by Kanjivaram weavers, the lotus is a classic. Stylized lotus motifs in zari or thread work grace borders and pallus, a tribute to the padma’s beauty and spiritual significance.

Adorn yourself in a Sarangi sari filled with lotus blooms and feel blessed this Deepavali.

Sarangi, the house of handwoven Kanjivaram Saris, is a beautiful store in Chennai, India. Its silk saris are a perfect combination of classic motifs, colours and weaves. This is the online shopping site for Kanjivarams from Sarangi.
November 02, 2013

Yali – the Beautiful Beast

In the skilled hands of a Kanjivaram weaver, even the ferocious Yali, a mythical beast sculpted on Hindu temple pillars, takes on an appearance of grace and majesty! Along with other traditional motifs inspired by temple art, that we have already shared with you, like theannapakshi (swan) and peacock, the Yali is one of the oldest designs to grace Kanjivaram’s iconic silk saris.

Yali – leogryph in English – is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Vyala’ and means ‘fearsome warrior’. Was the Yali the product of a sculptor’s fertile imagination? Possibly, for it is comprised of a lion’s body and head, an elephant trunk & tusks and a serpentine tail. The qualities associated with these animals – ferocity, strength and guile respectively – make the Yali a formidable presence on temple entrances and pillars, guarding the sacred space within. The Yali assumes other forms too in temple sculptures, the lion’s head replaced with that of a horse, human or dog.

As a textile motif, the Yali is a designer’s dream. As you may have seen on our Sarangi saris, the weavers typically feature rows of Yalis on sari borders, or across the pallu with abstract motifs to create a rich, dramatic effect. Shimmering in zari or silk thread, the grandeur and sinuous beauty of this magical creature is yet another testament to the Kanjivaram weaver’s quest for perfection.

The Yali and the Annapakshi are just a couple of our favourite motifs and we have found that they are extremely popular with our valued patrons. We would love to hear from all of you, on motifs that are your personal favourites or those that you would like to know more about and even those that you would like to see featured more on our curations. Please write in to us here.

 

October 18, 2013

Revisiting Motifs- Yali

Yali,  also known as Vyala or Sarabham or Vidala in Sanskrit, is a mythical creature seen in many Hindu temples, often sculpted onto the pillars. It is called as Leogryph in English. Yali is a motif in Indian art and it has been widely used in south Indian sculpture. Descriptions of and references to yalis are very old, but they became prominent in south Indian sculpture in the 16th century. Yalis are believed to be more powerful than the lion/Tiger or the elephant.

Photo courtesy: srirangaminfo.com

 

In the skilled hands of a Kanjivaram weaver, even the ferocious Yali, a mythical beast sculpted on Hindu temple pillars, takes on an appearance of grace and majesty! Along with other traditional motifs inspired by temple art, that we have already shared with you, like the annapakshi (swan) and peacock, the Yali is one of the oldest designs to grace Kanjivaram’s iconic silk saris.

 

October 04, 2013

Sacred glory

A universal symbol for the source of life, the Sun has been worshiped and accorded a preeminent status across varied cultures, mythology and religions. Hindu religious texts personify the Sun as Surya, the only form of divinity that is visible to human eyes. In Hindu iconography, Surya is frequently depicted as a magnificent king riding a chariot drawn by seven horses that represent the seven colors derived from sunlight.

As sacred fire, the Sun plays a vital role in virtually all important Hindu rituals. The Gayatri Mantra, believed to be the most powerful of chants is dedicated to Savitr, an aspect of Surya. The Gayatri praises Surya’s glorious effulgence and seeks his blessings as a source of spiritual enlightenment and intellectual attainment. Ancient yogis devised the Suryanamaskar, a set of 12 yogic postures performed in the presence of the early morning sun that revitalizes every part of the body.

The flaming magnificence of the Sun, its fathomless energy and wondrous life-giving properties are an eternal source of creative inspiration. As a textile motif, it is an age-old favorite, featured in various stylized forms on saris. Kanjivaram weavers often go beyond motifs and capture the sun’s ineffable glory with their weaves, using deep, brilliant oranges, yellows, reds and gold, shot through with complementary hues, creating stunning works of art to adorn the feminine form.  Besides their superb aesthetic values, these are sacred colors, symbolizing purity, goodness, plenitude, prosperity and fertility.

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