Sari in any form is an absolute favorite of almost all ethnic loving Indian women. Be it ‘Chanderi silk’ saree from Madhya Pradesh or ‘tant’ of Bengal, it is every women’s dream of having a beautiful collection in her wardrobe. A beautiful traditional saree can give tough competition to any designer saree in Kolkata. Here, we don’t need an occasion to wear saree, I love to flaunt them around whenever we want.

Also known as ‘woven air’ due to its transparent texture and sheerness, Chanderi handloom saree

Originated in a small town called Chanderi in Madhya Pradesh. The town of Chanderi is situated in the district of Ashok Nagar and it also is known for its historical importance. In the 11th century, it became an important trade route in India. This was due to its proximity to the ports of Gujrat, Malwa, Mewar and the Deccan region.

Its Historical Significance of Chanderi Saree

Interestingly, Chanderi fabric has been mentioned in the Vedas where it said that Krishna’s cousin Shishupal was the one to introduce the fabric. Surprisingly, records by Jesuit priest visiting Marwar between 1740 and 1761 have been found stating that Chanderi sarees enjoyed royal patronage. 

In the beginning, the craft was practiced mostly by Muslim weavers. In 1350, when the Koshti weavers from Jhansi migrated to the town of Chanderi, the craft moved with them. By the 17th century, Chanderi was established as the hub of Chanderi textile when the Mughals established a ‘karkhana’ dedicated to the craft.

The Mughal period witnessed the golden period of Chanderi weaving. There is an interesting story about the Mughal King Akbar involving this beautiful textile. Akbar was once sent a length of Chanderi weaved fabric packed inside a small hollowed bamboo. When he unfolded this piece of cloth, he was surprised to see its actual length. It was big enough to cover a grown elephant. It is also mentioned in ‘Maasir-i-Alamgiri’ which was written by Saqi Must’ad Khan. According to it, Aurangzeb used it to make ‘khilat’, a ceremonial robe. 

Chanderi weaves were again revived in 1910 when the royal family of ‘Scindia’ decided to extend its patronage. It was during this time that mesmerizing gold thread motifs were introduced to Chanderi weaving which gave it its royal look. 

Decline Of The Craft

The demand for Chanderi fabric declined during the British Raj in the 1920s. The East India Company started importing cheaper quality mill-made yarn via Calcutta. This devastated the market of handspun cotton Chanderi. The quality of Chanderi fabric further deteriorated in the 1930s after the import of Japanese silk.