CHANDERI is a traditional ethnic fabric characterized by its lightweight, sheer texture and fine luxurious feel. The fabric borrowed its name from the small town Chanderi in Madhya Pradesh where traditional weavers practice the art of producing textured sarees in cotton and silk decorated with fine zari work.Chanderi sarees are characterised by soft pastel shades.Chanderi, is a lightweight fabric that makes it apt for summer. It is also available in bright colors and has a slight sheen to it which makes it wearable for parities as well. Chanderi is a blend of cotton with light silk and some zari. The fabric is wearable and also looks good.
History of chanderi:
The textile that has stolen millions of hearts around the world originates in a small town at the very heart of the country. The town of Chanderi in Ashok Nagar District of Madhya Pradesh is known for its historical importance as well as the world famous hand woven Chanderi sarees. While ancient texts speak of Madhya Pradesh as a famous centre for weaving between the 7th century and the 2nd century BC, it rose to prominence in the 11th century, when it became one of the most important trade routes in India because of its proximity to the arterial routes to the ancient ports of Gujarat, Malwa, Mewar, Central India and Deccan regions. Records show that hand looms wove Chanderi sarees for royalty between the 12th and the 13th centuries.
While some references to the Vedic period in Indian mythology suggest that Chanderi fabric was introduced by Lord Krishna’s cousin Shishupal, one can find its mention in Maasir-i-Alamgir (1658-1707), wherein it is stated that Aurangzeb ordered the use of a cloth embroidered with gold and silver for making khilat (a ceremonial robe or other gift given to someone by a superior as a mark of honour). The material was very expensive. The beauty of this fabric was its softness, transparency, and fringes embellished with heavy gold thread embroidery. According to the records of a Jesuit priest, who visited Marwar between 1740 and 1761, Chanderi fabric enjoyed royal patronage and was also exported overseas. A British visitor, RC Sterndal noted that Chanderi was the favoured fabric of Indian royal women because of its soft, light texture and transparency.
Though these various accounts make it hard to put a date on the birth of Chanderi sarees, it’s clear that the fabric has always had the patronage of the ruling class of the country because of its unique sheer texture and intricate embroidery with gold and silver.
The craft of weaving Chanderi has been practised in families for generations. This has created a long lineage of skilled and experienced weavers whose craft cannot be replaced by power loom versions, and hence needs to be revered for its sheer brilliance. Chanderi is one of the shining jewels of India’s textile industry and it isn’t a wonder that it holds a special place in our hearts like no other.
Originally, Chanderi fabric was woven with handspun cotton yarn which was as fine as 300 counts, making the fabric as famous as the Muslins of Dhaka. The fine count cotton for Chanderi was extracted from a special root called the Kolikanda. Light yet strong, it gave the fabric a glossy finish. Fine cotton from Chanderi had long been patronized by Mughals and Rajputs. The fabric is woven with warp (tana), stretched out set of threads, through which the weft (bana) is passed through in regular motion. Since the inception, till about 1920s, only white and off-white cloth was woven with its ends embellished with zari and golden thread. Only hand-spun cotton thread was used even in the warp though it was not strong enough to be held under tension. The thread count in the warp can vary from 4,000 to 17000, depending upon the quality required. In the weft, cotton, mercerized cotton, raw silk or kataan is used. In the borders and butis, mercerized cotton, silk and zari threads are used. The butis on Chanderi fabric were woven on the handloom with the use of needles. Separate needles were used to create different motifs. Weavers then coated these motifs with gold, silver or copper dust.
BLOCK PRINTING is the process of printing patterns by means of engraved wooden blocks.It is the earliest, simplest and slowest of all methods of textile printing. Block printing by hand is a slow process. It is, however, capable of yielding highly artistic results, some of which are unobtainable by any other method.
Technique: Wooden blocks for textile printing may be made of box, lime, holly, sycamore, plane or pear wood, the latter three being most generally employed. They vary in size considerably, but must always be between two and three inches thick, otherwise they are liable to warping, which is additionally guarded against by backing the wood chosen with two or more pieces of cheaper wood, such as deal or pine. The several pieces or blocks are tongued and grooved to fit each other, and are then securely glued together, under pressure, into one solid block with the grain of each alternate piece running in a different direction.The block, being planed quite smooth and perfectly flat, next has the design drawn upon, or transferred to it. This latter is effected by rubbing off, upon its flat surface, a tracing in lampblack and oil, of the outlines of the masses of the design. The portions to be left in relief are then tinted, between their outlines, an ammoniacal carmine or magenta, for the purpose of distinguishing them from those portions that have to be cut away. As a separate block is required for each distinct colour in the design, a separate tracing must be made of each and transferred (or put on as it a termed) to its own special block.Having thus received a tracing of the pattern the block is thoroughly damped and kept in this condition by being covered with wet cloths during the whole process of cutting. The blockcutter commences by carving out the wood around the heavier masses first, leaving the finer and more delicate work until the last so as to avoid any risk of injuring it during the cutting of the coarser parts. When large masses of colour occur in a pattern, the corresponding parts on the block are usually cut in outline, the object being filled in between the outlines with felt, which not only absorbs the colour better, but gives a much more even impression than it is possible to obtain with a large surface of wood. When finished, the block presents the appearance of flat relief carving, the design standing out like letterpress type.Fine details are very difficult to cut in wood, and, even when successfully cut, wear down very rapidly or break off in printing. They are therefore almost invariably built up in strips of brass or copper, bent to shape and driven edgewise into the flat surface of the block. This method is known as coppering, and by its means many delicate little forms, such as stars, rosettes and fine spots can be printed, which would otherwise be quite impossible to produce by hand or machine block printing.