Introduction Tiruvanamalai is a place situated about 172 kilometers away from Chennai which is mostly surrounded by the hills and the reserve forest. It is said in these areas it is the Mudaliars or the Sengunthar Community has been in succession with the traditional handloom weaving. It is surrounded by mountains and hills with about 17 villages and mostly known for the bulk of India’s silk apparel produced by the people of this town. There is a saying that the first flag hoisted on independence of India at the Red Fort is a silk flag woven at Arani. Arani is one of the towns of the Tiruvanamalai district, specially famous for its silk handloom woven sarees. The unique feature of the Arani sarees are that one side of the body of the saree will be in one colour and the other side in another colour with two ends of different colours with the pallus. They are individually handled by the designs that are punched on the cards and loaded on to the looms. Sarees are generally the traditional wear worn across India in different styles depending on the region and occasion. Silk sarees or Pattu sarees are distinguished for their intricate work along with the Zari that is considered special. Each saree is varied with their pattern of designs and motifs. Both frame loom and pit loom is used to weave these silk sarees, throw shuttle (manually) is used for the production of these sarees. These sarees are generally characterized by huge contrast borders that offer an ethnic look with the appealing color combination, made through the inclusion of floral motifs and geometric patterns. Traditional motifs found are peacock and parrot with colors in mustard, pink, red, green, blue and black.
Tools and Raw Materials
The tools and raw materials that are used for Silk Saree Weaving are as follows:
• Raw Silk: It is generally brought from Bengaluru of Karnataka.
• Silk Winding Machine: It is used to twist and wind the silk yarn.
• Firewood: It is used to heat the dyeing vessel.
• Brass Vessel: It is generally preferred for colouring the silk yarns at Arani.
• Cement Water Tank: It is used to store water for colouring of the silk yarns.
• Steel Rods: It is generally used to hold the silk yarns for colouring purpose.
• Handloom: It is generally preferred for the silk saree weaving at Arani.
• Gondhu Pasai (local gum): It is mixed with water to form a paste to apply on the saree.
• Soap: Soap that is locally made is generally preferred for the boil off of silk yarns before colouring.
• Fly Shuttle: It is generally used to insert the yarns for weaving.
• Plastic Pirns: It is used for winding the yarns for weaving.
• Rubber Tubes and Plastic Covers: It is used to tie tightly the yarns as per the body and the pallu parts for colouring process.
• Basin of Water: It is used to immerse the winded silk yarns before warping process.
• Zari Threads: It is generally used for the designs and borders to be highlighted.
• A Cloth Bag with Sand: It is used to balance the movement of the yarns for weaving.
Silk yarns brought from Bengaluru of the Karnataka state are twisted and winded at Arani as per the requirement of the single and the double yarns to the bobbins. The silk yarns are then wound to the beams and then taken for the boil off and the colouring process. The hank of silk is boiled in the soap solution for the boil off process and dried completely. It is then dipped in water and immersed in the dye solution which is boiled with acid dyes in the brass vessel by providing heat by the firewood. Depending on the pallu and body part of the saree with respective colors it is dyed by tieing those portions with plastic covers and rubber tubes respectively and coloured. The yarns are then spread on the streets to be dried completely and wound to the beams and the pirns for the weaving purpose. As the beams and the pirns are loaded to the loom and the shuttle. It is then run by the hand driven and the peddle movements by the hands and leg movements of the weaver. A cloth bag with sand balances the lifting movement of the yarns. After certain length of the saree is woven it is applied with the Gondhu pasai (local gum mixed with water) to give the stiffness to the saree woven. Therefore there is no need for any further finishing treatment for these sarees. These are light weight with various traditional designs with zari and silk yarns.
Silk saree woven at Arani are generally made on the handlooms and the power looms. It takes minimum of 1 week to weave a handloom saree and 1 day on the power loom. The length of these sarees generally measures around 5.5 to 6.5 meters of length with some traditional, mango and peacock designs. The cost of the saree begins with Rs. 8000 – Rs. 35,000 and further as per the pattern of design.