The chanderi fabric is a type of loom that is produced in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. It well known among the handloom cluster of India and occupies a special place.
The weaving of Chanderi goes centuries back when it was highly patronized by the Bundela kingdom and other royal families of central India.
Chanderi weaving is a craft that has been practiced in many families for many generations. This has created skilled and experienced weavers whose craftsmanship cannot be replaced by power looms. Woven with handspun cotton yarn, fine Chanderi fabric was extracted from the Kolikanda root which was light yet strong, giving the fabric a glossy finish. The fabric is woven using the technique of hand spinning cotton warps and wefts.
From inception till the1920s, only white and off-white attire was woven with its borders embellished with zari and golden threads. The only thread used in the warp was handspun cotton thread and raw silk, cotton, mercerized cotton or kataan in the weft. In the borders and butis, silk, mercerized cotton, and zari threads are used. Then using needles, the butis and Chanderi fabric were woven on the handloom. Other needles were used to create different motifs then weavers coated the motifs with silver, gold, or copper dust.
Nowadays, raw silk that has a lustrous finish - it’s stronger making it easier to work with - is used in the warp of every stole/saree. Zari with silk is sometimes used to make tissue sarees. In the olden days, the throw-shuttle pit looms with two weavers were used, however today; fly-shuttle looms are used with one weaver. Earlier, yarn for weaving was coloured with natural dye, nowadays natural and chemical dyes are used. To weave a Chanderi saree, takes more than three days and sometimes more depending on the complexity of the design.
Characteristics and special features of Chanderi fabric
The transparency and sheer texture of Chanderi fabric have earned it the name ‘woven air’. Being lightweight and having a glossy texture makes Chanderi stoles/sarees different from other woven garments produced in India. The high quality and extra fine yarns used to weave the Chanderi stoles/sarees makes this fabric stronger than other fabrics.
The yarns don’t go through the degumming process to prevent breakage during weaving giving the fabric its unique texture and shine.
Genuine Chanderi stoles will always be available in soft hues but with changing times, vibrant combinations of navy blue, turquoise, red and black, fuchsia and white also exist.
The glossy texture and shine sets an original Chanderi stole apart from the fake ones.
A handwoven Chanderi will always have an uneven surface.
Motifs and colours.
Motifs such as geometric patterns, celestial figures, coins, peacocks, artistic intertwining lines, lotuses, and figures of animals to exclusive Chanderi motifs like chatai, dandidar, jangla and mehndi wale haath can be found on Chanderi fabric.
Needles are used to hand weave the motifs or butas on Chanderi fabric using the handloom. However, to create different motifs, separate needles are used then the weavers coat the motifs with silver, copper, and gold.
Use a mild detergent/flakes for washing and wash it in cold water.
Do not twist or rub fabric during wash.
Do not expose Chanderi fabric to sun. Dry in shade, always on the reverse side.
Chanderi cotton should never be ironed in folds. Make sure that while you start ironing, it is ironed on the opposite side.
For retaining the shine of zari, do not spray perfume or deodorant on the fabric directly.
Make it a point to fold them properly.