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Sungudi sarees – Comfort and elegance Combined

Sungudi Sarees originate from a small village called Chinnalapatti in the State of Tamil Nadu.  They are also known as Madurai Saree and Chinnala Pattu.  More than 10,000 families in the area earn their livelihood by making these sarees.

Read on to know more about these comfortable and light weight all-season sarees.

Climatic Conditions in Tamil Nadu

Since the state of Tamil Nadu is nearer the equator than most states of India, the climate is hot in most months of the year.  Tradition entails the wearing of long garments such as sarees and dhotis.  The climatic conditions make it necessary to choose a fabric such as cotton for wear in here. 

tie and dye photo

Photo by Mulligan Stu

Sungudi Sarees are the best answer to both traditional needs as well climatic conditions of Tamil Nadu.  These sarees are soft, light, and come in many beautiful colors and designs.  Another advantage of these sares are the dyes used are mostly natural, so they are safe for your skin. The Fabric also protects you against intense heat during summers.

How is it made?

The making Sungudi saree is elaborate, long-drawn and manual.

  1. The master designer will first decide what design is to be made all over the body of the saree. 
  2. Next the design is marked on a woven colorless cotton Saree
  3. The markings are then tied with threads by helpers 
  4. The cloth is next washed with natural soap and water.
  5. In case the saree needs two or more colors they are folded or pleated.  The portion to be dyed is kept exposed and the balance portion is folded into a closed cylinder.
  6.   It is then soaked in a cold color dye. 
  7. After it is properly soaked in cold dye it is dropped into a vessel holding a hot dye with temperatures hovering at 70 -80 degrees. 
  8. In the next step, it is washed with cold water and hung to dry either in at dawn or Dusk when the sunlight is minimal.
  9. Completely dry, all the threads are removed to reveal white spots that form a beautiful design as intended by the designer.
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In olden days, natural ingredients such as turmeric, wood powder were used.  Later chemical dyes started being used.  Now, natural dyes are coming into fashion due to customer preferences.


About 200 years, some Saurashtriyans migrated to Tamil Nadu. They settled in Madurai and sought the patronage of the local Nayak rulers.  They were called Patnulkaas in those days.  The Nayaks rules took them under their wing and became the first users of Sungudi sarees.

Sungudi in Sanskrit means round and refers to the round imprints and motifs on these sarees.

There is an interesting story as to how the spots or prints were designed. One evening, when all the weavers assembled in one place and were discussing new designs for sarees, they found inspiration in the stars.  They were also inspired by the buns worn on head by men and women of those times. Just like the hair bun is tied they decided to pinch small parts of  a saree and tie it with threads.

At first stones, pebbles and nails were tied before dying.  When the cloth dried and the threads were removed, the weavers were very pleased to look at the patterns that the untied areas reflected.  They decided to continue this tradition of tie and dye and it is prevalent even today.

More about it

Here are some more interesting facts if you are hooked on to this saree variety and want to know more…

  • It holds a GI tag under the title “Maduri Sungudi received on 12th December 2005.
  • Hand woven saree cost Rs.800/- to 1500/-; Power loom ones are cheaper costing you between Rs.300 to Rs.500/-
  • The length of Sungudi sarees is more than all other sarees.
  • The unique Bandini (tie and Dye) print is present all over the saree
  • Earlier only cotton material was used to make a Sungudi.  Now-a-days, you can also get silk and cotton silk Sungudi sarees; reason why  these sarees can be worn for festive and marriage occasions as well.
  • These sarees are durable and so maintenance is easy.  Two points to be remembered are (i) they should not be tumble dried  and (ii) They should be dried in a shady area.
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These sarees are available on all big Saree showrooms in South India.   They are also being made available online due to high demand from places North of Madurai.    

Sungudi Sarees – Comfort And Elegance Combined

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