The lockdown has given B. Krishnamoorthy, a traditional Kancheepuram silk weaver and designer, an opportunity to come up with a unique product.
The national award winning weaver said he wanted to reproduce a forgotten technique. The third generation weaver learnt the nuances from his grandfather and father. He set up the loom afresh for his new creation. “It took me 40 days to set up the loom and another 30 days to weave the sari,” he said.
The cotton sari, woven using 140 count cotton thread, has a rich brocaded silk, double coloured border. The border has been woven into the sari using the patni and double korvai method, which Kancheepuram weavers are famous for. The patni method is all but forgotten now.
“The silk border and pallav method is used in other places. Benaras and Andhra Pradesh weavers use the method on cotton but not in Tamil Nadu. They only weave silk pallav with designs and their saris are priced at abover ₹40,000,” Mr. Krishnamoorthy said.
The sari he has created has two borders – yellow and maroon. While the yellow border has threadwork, woven using jacquard method, the zari work is woven into the maroon border.
“I got the cotton yarn from Paramakudi and the silk from the government cooperatives. The price of zari has risen steeply in the last four months. What I used to buy for ₹25 now costs ₹40,” he said.
Mr. Krishnamoorthy’s product has already found takers in Kancheepuram’s silk sari shops already. He has plans to weave saris without the zari work. “The cost of saris without zari will be around ₹11,000 to ₹12,000 less,” he said.
It is not just the use of pure zari but also the weaving method that pushes up the price, he said. In Andhra Pradesh the variety that uses silk for pallav is sold for ₹40,000. That way my sari is cheaper. The wages for the weaver and the cost of dyeing is high. A weaver may take around 25 days to weave a sari once the loom is set up. Just for dyeing the yarn I have to pay ₹2,000,” he explained.