Kanchipuram sarees are hand woven from pure mulberry silk. The industry here is only made up of Handloom weavers and merchants and does not manufacture silk or any other raw material that goes into the silk saree.
Dyed Silk yarn…
The main raw materials are mulberry silk thread, metallic thread (Zari) and dye. Dipping the silk thread into liquid gold and silver makes the Zari. This enhances the beauty and the value of the silk saree. The mulberry silk thread comes from the neighboring state of Karnataka, the metallic thread which is interwoven with the silk to give the metallic look comes from the state of Gujarat, and the dyes too are not manufactured in Kanchipuram. But all these materials are brought here, and the skilled artisans weave them on handlooms, creating a unique hand-made work of art in each saree.
Getting the yarn ready for the loom….
The saree usually have three parts to it called the body, border and pallu (the hanging end of the saree). To weave a saree three shuttles meaning three single threads of silk yarn along with zari are used. This accounts for its durability and luster. While the weaver works on the right side, his aide works on the left side shuttle. The border color and design are usually quite different from the body. If the pallu has to be woven in a different shade, it is first separately woven and then delicately joined to the saree. The joint is woven so strongly that even if the saree tears, the border would not detach. Since the maximum length on a traditional loom is 18-yard warp, it ensures that not more than 3 silk saris can look alike.
Article by Sandhya Manne