THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE "TRIANGLE" ON KANJEEVARAM TEMPLE SAREES
Every woman must have at least one Kanjeevaram saree in her collection, characterised by the iconic contrasting body, border and pallu . The border and body are traditionally separated by "triangles" or "temples", a quintessential feature of temple sarees famous from the town of Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu, making them one of the richest handlooms in India often handed over from generation to generation as a classic drape. The heritage weaves of Kanjeevaram’are celebrated not only for their glorious past but by their distinctive weaving method where all three parts are woven separately and then attached by a third shuttle. Read the story of the triangle that makes the Kanjeevaram saree a cynosure of handloom enthusiasts world-over.
The lithe and artistic fingers of weavers hailing from the small temple town of Kanchipuram have been famous for weaving lavish Kanjeevaram sarees easily distinguished by contrasting play of vivid colours that have draped not only women but idols of deities in villages as a timeless pieces. These sarees are also reputed for their lustrous texture and fine finish. An original three-ply silk Kanjeevaram saree will have a solid coloured body, sometimes adorned by motifs, with a contrasting coloured pallu and border rich in zari (thread made of gold or silver).
Though simple in appeal and style, these sarees take a minimum of three weeks before they are ready to go to the market because of a complicated inter-locking weaving technique called ‘Korvai’ meaning ‘in sync’ in Tamil. This specialised process involves weaving the body, pallu and border separately on three shuttles and then joining them by a technique called ‘petni’ which results in an integral design feature in itself taking on multitude forms – the most traditional being sharped-edged triangles that separate the saree’s body with its border.
So when the ‘petni’, a structural necessity, interlocks the border and body, these triangles of a lighter, blended colour formed from threads of both sections, emerge adding a slightly rough texture to this portion. These tiny serrated triangles or multi-spiked articulations are a blend of divinity and design detail that have been the hallmark of Kanjeevaram sarees for centuries as weavers passed on looms to the next generation. Other features are a straight-line interlock to more elaborate temple inspired ‘gopuram’ forms.
“The border and body are separated by triangles, a quintessential feature of temple sarees famous from the town of Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu, making it one of the richest handlooms in India.”
- Solid coloured body
- Pallu and border are in a contrasting colour to body
- All three parts are woven separately and attached together with a petni
- Rich zari borders
- Serrated or multi-spiked triangles are a design feature of this technique
Shonali Advani is a trained journalist, having worked previously with leading publications such as the Economic Times and the Entrepreneur magazine. She is now a freelance writer with a keen interest in arts, culture, and heritage and brings this passion to her posts for The Registry of Sarees.