India is a land of wondrous diversity, culture, and tradition, and its vibrant textile industry truly reflects just that. From intricate embroidery to exquisite handloom work, Indian textiles have been the center of attention for centuries. In particular, the southern region of India is home to a diverse range of sarees, each unique in its own way.
The southern region of India, known for its tropical climate, rich history, and vast natural resources, is often referred to as the "Handicraft Capital of the World" and is home to some of the world’s most skilled artisans; These creators weave and create some of the finest textiles in the world. In the following paragraphs, we’ll dive into the most popular sarees in South India.
1. Kanchipuram Silk Sarees
Also known as Kanjeevaram silks, these sarees are named after the town they originated from - Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu. The sarees are woven using pure mulberry silk and gold and silver zari from Gujarat.
Kanchipuram sarees are unique in how they are woven in that the pallu and the borders are woven separately. They are later joined together with an almost zigzag pattern which we call the pitni. This is why the pallu of the saree is generally of a different design and color from the rest of the saree.
The fabric used for Kanjeevaram sarees is some of the most durable as it is made of three different silk threads woven with a silver wire. If you’re interested to know more, allow us to walk you through how to identify a pure Kanchipuram silk saree with our comprehensive guide!
2. Kanchipuram Cottons
Much like its silk counterpart, Kanchi cotton sarees also find their origins in the town of Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu. These sarees are known for their exquisite craftsmanship, intricate designs, and vibrant colors, which make them highly desirable among women of all ages. Kanchi cotton sarees are made from high-quality cotton yarn and are woven using traditional techniques, which have been passed down from generation to generation. They feature a range of intricate patterns, such as checks, stripes, and floral designs, and are often embellished with gold and silver threads. These sarees are lightweight, comfortable to wear, and perfect for all occasions, from weddings to daily wear.
3. Hand-painted Sarees
In South India, hand-painted sarees are a beautiful expression of the rich and vibrant culture of South India. These sarees are created by skilled artisans who use their creativity and talent to hand-paint intricate designs onto the fabric. The South Indian aesthetic is known for its use of bold colors, intricate patterns, and rich textures, all of which are beautifully incorporated into these hand-painted sarees.
Wearing a hand-painted saree is a wonderful way to embrace the beauty and elegance of South Indian culture. These sarees are perfect for weddings, festive occasions, or any special event where you want to look your best.
Kalamkari, for the uninitiated, is an intricate art form that can be found in ancient temples and palaces in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. These beautiful graphics found themselves adopted into saree weaves for the number of stories they could tell.
The word "kalamkari" itself translates to "pen work," which reflects the use of a special pen or brush to create the designs on the saree. These sarees are made from cotton or silk fabric and are available in a range of vibrant colors. The intricate designs on the saree typically depict scenes from Hindu mythology, nature, or historical events. Kalamkari printed sarees are highly coveted for their unique, handmade quality and are perfect for formal events, weddings, and other special occasions.
5. Mysore Silk Sarees
Similar to Kanjeevaram sarees, Mysore silk sarees are also made with a blend of silk and gold and silver zari but find their roots in Karnataka.
These sarees are some of the most expensive ones in India due to the material used. Mysore silk zari is made of 65% pure silver and 0.65% pure gold. However, it is still quite lightweight and soft which makes it ideal for the summer. This along with light detailing in the fabric, make it extremely popular.
6. Chettinad Sarees
As the name suggests, these sarees are made in the town of Chettinad in Tamil Nadu. They are made out of cotton and are known for the distinctive pattern of having two borders with a chequered pattern between.
The fabric of these sarees has a refined and woven look to it which is hard to achieve for some cottons. This gives the saree a shimmer which allows it to be both formal as well as comfortable.
7. Kasavu Sarees
These Kerala sarees are renowned for their effortless elegance. The main body of the saree is a shade of white while the borders of golden thread, or kasavu, which is where the name of the saree comes from.
8. Gadwal Sarees
These sarees originated from the Gadwal district in Telangana. These sarees are woven using the techniques of kuppadam and kumbam. They are known for the gold and silver zari used in the fabric.
The saree is woven with cotton on the body and silk on the pallu which is why they are also often called Sico sarees (a combination of silk and cotton). However, it can also be made with pure silk.
10. Pochampally Sarees
These sarees, also known as Pochampally Ikkat, are made in the town of Bhoodan Pochampally in Telangana. The unique feature of this saree lies in the way it is woven; detailed designs are transferred first onto warp and weft threads before they are woven together. This is known as double ikkat textiles. The sarees are typically made out of cotton or silk or a blend of the two called sico.
11. Mangalagiri Sarees
Mangalgiri cotton sarees are made from high-quality cotton fabric, which originates from the town of Mangalgiri in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. These sarees are known for their soft texture, durability, and unique weaving techniques, which involve interweaving two different coloured yarns to create a subtle, contrasting effect. Mangalgiri cotton sarees are often embellished with intricate designs, such as checks, stripes, and borders, and are available in a wide range of colours, from vibrant hues to pastel shades. These sarees are perfect for all occasions, from casual wear to formal events, and are highly coveted for their elegance and timeless appeal.
The silk variants from this region are also renowned and are known for their soft, smooth texture, and elegant drape. Mangalgiri silk sarees are adorned with intricate designs and patterns that are handwoven onto the fabric using silk threads.
Each of these sarees listed above is a testament to the craftsmanship and skill of the artisans who create them. From the weaving of the fabric to the intricate embroidery, each delicate piece of fabric is a work of art. The use of traditional techniques and designs passed down from generation to generation has helped the textile industry in the southern region of India to flourish and remain relevant even in the modern era.
India is a country filled with wonders, and its rich textile industry is one of them. The southern region of India is home to some of the finest sarees in the world, each unique in its own way. The skilled artisans who create these sarees are the backbone of the textile industry in the region, and their dedication to their craft has helped it to flourish and remain relevant over the years.