The Charisma of Chanderi

Chanderi Fabric

The princess of handloom- Chanderi

Source: Flickr

History reveals, the fabric Chanderi, received its name from a village, situated between the hills Vindhyachal in the state of Madhya Pradesh. The etymological evolution of this fabric is believed to date back to the Vedic period. It was during the 1890’s when this fabric encountered its turning point. The weavers during this time changed their course of weaving from handspun yarn to mill yarn. Further, in the year 1910, the royal Maratha clan of Shinde adorned the chanderi fabrics by getting them weaved into sarees. The embroidery motifs on those royal chanderi sarees were mostly done with gold threads. It was during this time that the weavers of chanderi enmeshed silk yarn into the cotton yarns and this fabric continued to maintain its royal hiatus throughout the Mughal era.

Bird’s eye view of Chanderi Village, Madhya Pradesh"
Bird’s eye view of Chanderi Village, Madhya Pradesh

Source: Shopify

However, it during the colonial rule, that the Chanderi weavers suffered a huge setback with the influx of imported cheap cotton into Indian markets. Soon, the weavers overcame their loss, by discovering Japanese silk. They started combining the same with their pure cotton and also came up with a silk-by-silk weave, which made their chances better against their competitors.

Chanderi fabric making
Unique weaving of Chanderi fabric

Source: Utsavpedia

In this light, the chanderi fabric is of three major kinds- the pure cotton chanderi, the silk chanderi, and the cotton-silk chanderi. Unique ‘buttis’ and motifs are its markers. However, these motifs have come a long way from resembling traditional coins, floral patterns, and peacocks to geometrical patterns. Earlier original gold, silver and copper yarns were used for designing these motifs. However, with the extinction of the royal age, that practice too is a bygone one. In contemporary times, the weavers use the weft called ‘tested Zari’ which resembles the richness of gold, silver and copper threads but are not original in nature. However, what remains unique about this sophisticated fabric is that all the motifs are still hand woven even in the contemporary times, lending the fabric a uniqueness of its own.  The weave of these buttis are permanent in nature as they are hand woven. It refuses to lose form even after several wear and tear, unlike the motifs woven out of Power Loom wefts.  This fabric’s virtue further lies in the fact that even adoring a royal feel, the Chanderi fabric is famous for its light weight and sheer transparency; a feature which is hard to accomplish and not too common in the handloom industry.

Chanderi Dupatta

A Chanderi Silk dupatta

Source: Pinterest

Be it the royal propaganda of this fabric from the ancient times (literally and metaphorically) or be it its unique comforting it rich texture, chanderi fabric one way or the other is royalty personified and has maintained its charm till date. In fact, it is almost enthralling to witness how the Indian textile industry has come a long way from utilizing fabric only for making traditional sarees and salwar kameez. The Indian fashion cosmos has redefined the value of this fabric by using the chanderi into making fusion attires like indo-western chanderi dresses, skirts, etc, albeit, maintaining the ethnic authenticity of the fabric.

So what are you waiting for? If this article has charmed you enough about chanderi, hurry and indulge yourself in owning this unique piece of luxury for your wardrobe!


Roshni & Paushali

Academician | Corporate Geek| Style Influencers | Millennial Women A creative initiative of two millennial women, Paushali, the corporate practitioner and Roshni an academician, in an attempt to celebrate Fashion hidden in the nooks and crannies of the city, the Real Women and Calcutta!

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