Chanderi suits come from Chanderi, which is amongst the best known handloom clusters. It occupies a special place because of its centuries old weaving specialty of producing finely textured fabrics of silk and cotton embellished with zari woven work. With around 3,500 looms in working condition, 18,000 people are directly or indirectly dependent on the Chanderi weaving industry for their living.
Chanderi town of Madhya Pradesh, India is famous for its traditional Chanderi Suits which are produced from three kinds of fabric - pure silk, chanderi cotton, silk cotton and embellished with zari woven work. Known to have their origin back in the 13th century when the weavers were mostly muslims, these Chanderi Suits became popular due to their unmatched sophistication, extremely fine texture and high quality.
Chanderi suits owe their name to the town of Chanderi in Madhya Pradesh state of India. Chanderi town is known to have its origin back in the vedic period and is believed to be founded by Shishupal who was the cousin of Lord Krishna. Due to the geographical location of Chanderi near the trade routes, connecting Malwa, Mewad and Central India to the ports of South and Gujarat, it emerged as a major centre for weaving.
The record of weaving culture in Chanderi is available from the 13th century. In the beginning, the weavers were Muslims and later in 1350, the koshti weavers from Jhansi migrated to Chanderi and settled down there. During the Mughal period, the cloth business of chanderi reached its peak.
Traditionally, the fabric was woven using very fine hand spun yarn, which accounted for its delicate texture. So its quality, designs, colors and motifs were appropriate to cater to the demands of an elite class family. The traditional weaving of Chanderi fabric was mainly done for making sarees and suit materials.
Originally, Chanderi cloth was woven using hand spun cotton thread. Due to the proximity of Chanderi to trade routes, supply of threads was never interrupted. After the Industrial Revolution, the British imported cheaper 120 to 200 count cotton from Manchester, which greatly eroded the market for the more expensive Chanderi cloth. So the evolution of Chanderi began in 1890’s when the weavers changed from handspun thread to mill spun thread. Then Silk thread was preferred because the profit margins were higher and the mill spun cotton thread could not produce the required shine which was the specialty of Chanderi cloth. This was the time when 'woven air', which was the name to describe exclusiveness of Chanderi cloth had started losing its meaning.
Chanderi salwar kameez are produced from three kinds of fabric i.e. pure chanderi silk, chanderi cotton and silk cotton. The motifs have come a long way from the traditional coin, floral and peacocks to the geometrics. Small geometrical motifs along the borders, embroidered in zari often glint through the delicate folds of the fabric, enhancing its appeal. The sheer texture, lightness, durability, glossy transparency of Chanderi salwar kameez serve to make them an instant favorite to wear for a variety of occasions, including auspicious events, formal functions and cocktail parties.
In 1999, the production of Chanderi got the Geographical Indicator (GI) registration with the government of India.
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