Saree is the traditional wear of south India since many centuries. The style of draping a saree varies from state to state and the designs have evolved through out the years. However there are certain traditional varieties of saree which are used for auspicious occasions such as weddings. In Tamil Nadu, there are few unique varieties of traditional sarees which are still in common use. Here is a list of five types of traditional sarees in Tamil Nadu.
The Kanchipuram silk is a unique brand of silk saree produced at Kanchipuram, a town in north Tamil Nadu. This town is a heritage area with a lot of temples. Early south Indian rulers such as the Pallavas and Chozhas have ruled Kanchipuram for centuries and several monuments and temples still stand high witnessing their power.
It was in 10th century, when the Chozhas recruited silk weavers to work at Kanchipuram. The story of this “silk city” began then. Now silk saree production is the main source of income for Kanchipuram. Other modes of income include tourism and agriculture.
The Kanchipuram silk sarees are mostly bright coloured with thick borders and heavy work. As a price of uniqueness, Kanchipuram silk sarees have obtained GI tag.
Sungudi saree is a form of simple cotton saree with small dots or lines. Also called as the “Bandani” work, these Sungudi sarees are mostly produced in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. It is believed that the tying and dyeing techniques of Sungudi sarees originated from weavers who migrated from Gujarat.
A lot of human work is involved with the production of a sungudi saree. The dots are tied with thread before colouring the entire saree. This means that dots would be highlighted with a different colour in contrast with the main saree colour. This design would give an attractive look as well as comfort to the wearer.
3. Koorai pattu
Koorai pattu is the traditional saree worn my Tamil women during their wedding. It is mostly bright red colour where according to the Hindu belief, Red denotes prosperity and fertility. In certain parts of Tamil Nadu, pure white blouses are worn with koorai pattu. The bride is expected to wear koorai pattu exactly at the time of “Thaali kattu” when the groom ties the knot.
The koorai pattu is mostly striped with thin white lines and the material is cotton or silk.
A Madisar saree is worn by Tamil Brahmin women and it differs from the normal saree in the method of wearing. A normal saree would measure only 6 yards but a madisar measures 9 yards. It is worn by tying between legs like how old men used to tie dhoti. This method of wearing madisar is known to be a very ancient style dating back to 2000 years. Madisar is the first ever cloth to be found to cover entire body unlike using two separate upper and under garments.
Kandaangi is also a tradition Tamil saree which is still in common use since a couple of centuries. The origin of Kandaangi saree is Karaikudi, Tamil Nadu. From here, the saree went through evolution and now it is available in diverse colours, designs and materials. Recently in August 2019, Kandaangi saree has obtained the GI tag.
Though saree is the traditional wear of south India, every state has its own way of designing and wearing. In Tamil Nadu, traditional sarees are associated with auspicious occasions such as weddings and religious ceremonies. In some cases, any particular type of saree also denotes their ethnicity. Though regular usage of saree as a daily wear has reduced drastically, it is still considered as a symbol of south India.