Chanderi Sarees: A Journey from Silk to a Saree A product of Indian handloom


‘Chanderi has long been famous for the manufacture of delicate muslins….The cloth is of unusual fineness and delicacy while the coloured gold and silk borders are of surpassing beauty’

Chanderi Saree is a great product of Chanderi, one of the well-known handloom cities in India. Chanderi is famous for its sarees. Besides , the city is one of the best tourist places in Madhya Pradesh.  Chanderi is situated in Ashok Nagar district of North of Madhya Pradesh, situated on the boundary of two cultural regions of the state, Malwa and Bundelkhand.

According to mythology or the Vedic period, it was said that Chanderi was founded by lord Krishna’s cousin Shishupala. The famous weaving culture started during the 2nd century and 7th century. But the weaving culture or tradition has been available from the 13th century. In the beginning the weavers were Muslims and later in 1350 the Koshti weavers from Jhansi were migrated to Chanderi and settled down there. During the Mughal period, the cloth business of Chanderi has moved to peak. Saree making was exclusive to this region and it came here as a product of love –something they were proud of as part of their culture and today it is our heritage.

There have been changes in the methodologies, equipments and even the compositions of yarns from past. The weavers are actually the symbol of the heritage, as they have been the ones, who produced the kinds of stuff that received appreciation even from the royals.  At present, there are over 3,600 families of weavers settled in Chanderi, consisting nearly 60% of the town’s entire population.  Some Chanderi weavers also incorporate Banaras-influenced patterns like meenakari (coloured inlay) or patella (jeweled cut work).

Best Chanderi Sarees are produced using three raw materials: cotton, silk thread, and zari.  The saris they weave have either a plain body with zari borders or are sprinkled with small floral or geometric motifs. The technique of weaving, using cotton in the weft and silk in the warp, is what sets the craftsmanship of these weavers apart from others. Yet, the weaves are still evolving with every passing trend, making the Sarees softer and less transparent.  All of these materials are brought from other regions of India.

Traditional looms are still used as the primary means of production for Handloom Chanderi Sarees and Handloom Chanderi Dupattas. These include pit-looms, dobby, and jacquard looms. The hand-woven silk has a light, sheer quality that sets it apart from textiles produced en masse in factories. Traditional coin, Flora art, Peacocks and geometrics are woven into different Chanderi patterns Sarees & Dupatts. The colors of Chanderi silk come from both natural as well as chemical processes.

Chanderi Sarees are available in a dizzying variety of designs, including Bagh prints and contemporary, geometric patterns alongside the traditional motifs. Buy best Chanderi Sarees online from Besides, Chanderi Dupttas online are available in many colors and varieties at


The Art of Hand Block Printing

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Hand block printing, a craft handed down through generations is in the forefront of the fashion scene today. Block printing is believed to have originated in China towards early 3rd century. Records of its presence in Egypt and some Asian countries were also found around the 4th century, from where it spread to Europe and other places. India has been renowned for its printed and dyed cotton cloth since the 12th century.

Apart from wood, blocks were made of metals and porcelain also. But wooden block remains the most sought after apart from metal ones which has gained popularity in recent times. The ancient craft has seen a major revival over the last two decades and has moved away from its traditional rural centers to the metropolitan cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Bangalore.

Block printing has become popular because the simple process can create such sensational prints in rich and vibrant colors. Originally natural dyes were used but today they have been replaced by chemical and artificial colors. The main colors used are red, the color of love, yellow the color of spring, blue as in Krishna, and saffron of the yogi.


In hand block printing, the design is first drawn on wood using a sharp needle and then the desired design is carved using the chisel, hammer, file, nails etc. The printing involves laying the cloth/fabric, which is to be printed, on flat tables and impressions are made using the beautifully carved blocks.  In case of direct printing, the block is dipped in the colored dye and impressions are made. In case of resist dyeing, impression of an impermeable material (clay, resin, wax etc) is made on the fabric which is then dyed in the desired shade. The block image remains un printed and reappears in reverse.

Wooden trolleys with racks have castor wheels fastened to their legs to facilitate free movement. The printer drags it along as he works. On the upper most shelf trays of dye are placed. On the lower shelves printing blocks are kept ready. The fabric to be printed is washed free of starch and soft bleached if the natural grey of the fabric is not desired.

If dyeing is required as in the case of saris, where borders or the body is tied and dyed, it is done before printing. The fabric is stretched over the printing table and fastened with small pins (in the case of saris the pallu is printed first then the border).

Luxurionworld offers many varieties of hand-block printed sarees, dupattas, &stoles. Some of them you may find in categories such as Ajrakh, Kalamkari, Batik. There is a special category for Hand printed & Block Printed Sarees in Bengal.



Phulkari Art – the Vibrancy of Punjab


Sitting on the charpoys (beds woven with jute strings) pulled into the protective shade of a tree, or ensconced against a wall, women in villages and small towns all over Punjab are often busy creating spectacular flower-embroidery on dupattas, shawls or other garments. Called phulkari in local parlance, the origin of this beautiful art can be traced back to the 15th century AD. The word phulkari literally means flowering. It is a form of craft in which embroidery is done in a simple and sparse design over shawls and dupattas. In some cases where the design is worked over very closely, covering the material entirely, it is called bagh (a garden of flowers).

The embroidery of phulkari and bagh is done in long and short darn stitch, which is created into innumerable designs and patterns. It is the skilful manipulation of this single stitch that lends an interesting and characteristic dimension to this needlework. The threads used were of a silk yarn called pat (Heer). Bright colors were always preferred and among these, golden yellow, red, crimson, orange, green, blue, pink etc, were the popular ones. For the embroidery, only a single strand was used at a time, each part worked in one color. Shading and variation were not done by using various colors of thread. Instead, the effect was obtained by the dexterous use of horizontal, vertical or diagonal stitches. This resulted in giving an illusion of more than one shade when light fell on it and when it was viewed from different angles.

Beginning with geometrical patterns, flowers and leaves, the repertoire of motifs was constantly enlarged. Birds, animals and human figures and objects of everyday use were inducted, along with vegetables, pots, buildings, rivers, the sun and the moon, scenes of village life, and other imagery. Phulkaris and baghs came to be embroidered in a stunning range of exquisite designs. In dhoop chaon, which literally means “sun and shade”, an amazing interactive display of light and shade was created. The designs remained earthy and true to life. There was dhaniya bagh (coriander garden), motia bagh (jasmine garden), satranga bagh (garden of rainbow), leheria bagh (garden of waves) and many other depictions.

Today the most intricate and sought after phulkaris are the sainchi phulkaris, which bring scenes from rural Punjab to life. An incredible wealth of detail is embroidered onto cloth. With time, the phulkaris became closely interwoven with the lives of the women of Punjab.

The joys, sorrows, hopes, dreams and yearnings of the young girls and women who embroidered the phulkaris were often transferred onto cloth. Many folk songs grew out of this expressive combination of skills and intense feelings. So, it is that one hears a young woman, whose betrothed has not sent a promised message to her, murmuring sadly, softly, as she embroiders peacocks on a phulkari. It was not long before phulkari folk songs became a part of the famous, pulsating folk dances of Punjab – the gidda and the bhangra.

The bagh was considered a symbol of marriage and among the wealthy families, sometimes up to fifty-one pieces of various designs were given to the bride. She, in turn, wore them for auspicious and ceremonial occasions. In some parts of Punjab, it was customary to drape the new mother with a bagh on the eleventh day after the birth of the child, when she left the maternity room for the first time.

Phulkaris were also made for religious ceremonies or to be used at other festive times. A phulkari is sanctified to be used as the canopy over the holy book of the Sikhs, the ‘Guru Granth Sahib’. For each different occasion, for each different setting, the versatile fingers and fertile imagination of the women of Punjab designed an impressive selection of phulkaris.

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Kantha Embroidery of West Bengal

The art of decoration of fabric or other material with threads, wires or leather using a needle may be defined as embroidery. With the advent of sophisticated machines, embroidery is possible by machines also, especially for repetitive volume work. But, it is the hand embroidery that continues to fascinate mankind for thousands of years. Traditionally, women have been practicing this art from time immemorial.

The Kantha Embroidery was almost the lost art until a few years ago, is the predominantly the most popular form of embroidery practiced by the rural women. The traditional form of Kantha embroidery was done the soft dhotis and saris. The oldest reference to Kantha is in “Sri Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita” by Krishnadas Kaviraj Which was written some 500 years back. Kantha was said to be lady’s self expression. The real kantha narrates a story ,the emotions and life of artist. There, a young woman pining for her loved one decided to express her story using running stitch to sew together old clothes and create beautiful blankets. The Kantha sarees have helped in keeping alive a folk art of Bengal. The tradition of Kantha embroidery is very old and it is mentioned in Sanskrit Grammar written by Panini around the sixth century B.C.  The Ramayan mentions Chandrabati’s Kantha stitching as one of the skills that Sita excelled.

The word Kantha means patched clothes. Kantha evolved out of necessity to drape or protect against cold. Kontha on Sanskrit means rags. That era thread and cloth were not easily available to common people so they started to use overused saris or dhotis by stitching them up. They used the strand of thread from the colorful border of the saris and stared to make simple designs with them. The real Kantha embroidery is doorukha- double faced- a style in which the stitches are so skillfully made that the details of each design appear identical on either side.

The designs may be roughly divided into illustrations of epic and folk stories, ritualistic motifs, luxuriant vegetation of woods, with animals roaming and deer running, peacocks dancing, houses with balconies filled with peoples, temples with friezes, articles of daily use like caskets, baskets, nutcrackers, hukkas, beds, umbrella, pitcher, comb, mirror, candelabra, personal items like costumes and jewellery, vehicles like chariots, palanquins, elephant with howdahs, horses with saddles.


Kantha is worked by women in their leisure time


Lotus is the most important amongst motifs and usually fills the centre of piece. An overall lotus pattern is sometimes built up by alternating red and black petals.


Luxurionworld offers the widest variety of Kantha Work sarees in India.

Batik Sarees – Traditional Dyeing with Trendy Look


The word batik is Javanese in origin. It may either come from the Javanese word amba (‘to write’) and titik (‘dot’), or may derive from a hypothetical Proto-Austronesian root *beCík (‘to tattoo’). The word is first recorded in English in the Encyclopædia Britannica of 1880, in which it is spelled battik.

Batik craft came from the Coromandel Coast to South East Asia and revived in Shantiniketan, near Calcutta, and has now gone all over the country and is practiced everywhere. Wax is used as a resist on the parts of the fabric which are dyed different from the base color which is usually dyed in a dark color. Wax resist dyeing of fabric is an ancient art form. The applied wax resists dyes and therefore allows the artisan to colour selectively by soaking the cloth in one colour, removing the wax with boiling water, and repeating if multiple colours as desired.

Batik fabric is washed in boiling water so as to remove the wax from batik fabric and then it is again washed with soap after all the colors have been absorbed. The color seeps through the cracks in the irregular network of the breaking wax-coat. The removal of the wax and the irregular network forms a unique design to give the fabric a beautiful appearance.

Firstly, a cloth is washed, soaked and beaten with a large mallet. Patterns are drawn with pencil and later redrawn using hot wax, usually made from a mixture of paraffin or bees wax, sometimes mixed with plant resins, which functions as a dye-resist.

After the cloth is dry, the resist is removed by boiling or scraping the cloth. The areas treated with resist keep their original colour; when the resist is removed the contrast between the dyed and undyed areas forms the pattern. This process is repeated as many times as the number of colours desired.

The most traditional type of batik, called batik tulis (written batik), is drawn using only the canting. The cloth need to be drawn on both sides and dipped in a dye bath three to four times. The whole process may take up to a year; it yields considerably finer patterns than stamped batik.

Batik is a “resist” process for making designs on fabric. The artist uses wax to prevent dye from penetrating the cloth, leaving “blank” areas in the dyed fabric. The process, wax resist then dye, can be repeated over and over to create complex multicolored designs.

Silk Sarees in Batik are made mostly in Bengal but cotton fabrics and home textiles are produced both in Gujarat as well as in Madhya Pradesh.

Five basic techniques are combined to create various effects:

  1. CRACKING : This effect is produced by applying only paraffin wax. The fabric is dipped in the molten wax or else thick brush is used for even waxing.
  2. SCRATCHING : To acquire thin line diagrams this technique is used. Here only bees wax is used. The entire fabric is waxed similar to cracking and after the wax is dried the design is etched out with the help of a pin/biological needle.
  3. SPLASHING : Here molten wax is splashed over the fabric with the help of a brush or stick. This produces overall tiny spots as design.
  4. SCRATCH & CRACK : As the name suggests this technique combines the process of scratching and cracking. Here again paraffin wax is used similar to cracking. The line design is then etched out similar to scratching. In this variation the background will have the cracks along with a finely etched out line design.
  5. BATIK PAINTING : This is the actual batik where the effect is like a printed motif. Any suitable motif can be selected for this purpose. More than one colours can also be produced. First the wax is applied to the portions of the design where white or base colour needs to be resisted. Then the fabric is dyed. After dyeing the fabric is again waxed for the second colour. The white portions waxed earlier are also re-waxed, as dyeing tends to destroy the waxing.

    Visit to a batik unit with Zahina at MP