The lustrous beauty of zari work is undoubtedly one reason for the enduring popularity of the Kanjeevaram brand name. Intricate motifs acquire an added charm when picked out in zari threads while its golden shimmer is the perfect complement to richly coloured silks.
Zari, or zardozi embroidery has been used in royal attire since ancient times. The Mughals were great patrons of this craft. Today, Surat in Gujarat is the centre of zari production, from where weavers all over India source their requirements.
Traditionally, zari was made from silk thread wound with fine silver wire and dipped in gold. With the rising price of these precious metals, zari makers shifted to using copper wire electroplated with silver in the industrial era. Another technological leap later, metallic zari arrived – inexpensive, durable and most important, non-tarnishing. Notwithstanding these changes in manufacturing methods, zari continues to remain a traditional craft that is handed down from father to son. Surat’s extraordinarily talented artisans pride themselves on drawing wires that are thinner than human hair!
While pure zari considerably hefts the price of a sari, it has an inimitable sheen and never tarnishes. Depending on the purpose for which you are buying a Kanjeevaram – bridal/festive wear or for more casual occasions – always ask for the details.