Textiles of South India


Kanchipuram silk saree
South India has a wide range of rich textiles. India is widely-known for its cotton textiles throughout the world. The tropical lands of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have their unique cultural traits. These areas are untouched by the cultural fabric of other parts of India. Traditions of art and craft are still followed by the people of such regions.

Vedic texts mention that silks and fine muslins were belonged to Tamil Nadu. Cotton and silk weaving was popular in Madurai, Bengal, Benares and Orissa. Mahabharata refers to the beautiful textiles belong to Tamil Nadu. During the coronation of Yudishtira, muslins of Tamil Nadu were used. Different types of Sangam literary works such as Silappadikaram belong to the weaving art related to women. Beautiful embroidered cloths with various colours and shades were admired by women. Chinese tourists of thirteenth century told that Chola princes used to wear cotton-made attires, which was the widespread clothing custom.

Textile trade can be easily evaluated from the capital cities of Madurai (Pandya), Karur (Chera) and Uraiyur (Chola) were close to the maximum cotton producing regions. These towns are still popular for thriving textile trade. Good quality of silk can be found in Tamil Nadu. Kanchipuram silk sari is worn extensively by women with pallu (border) woven independently and attached to the sari. Moreover, Tanjavur, Kumbakonam and Kanchipuram have been essential hubs of silk weaving.

Cotton weaving in Tamil Nadu is prevalent in Karur, Kanchipuram, Madurai, Coimbatore, Pudukkotai and Salem. Silk/cotton combinations from Kurainadu, kcmdangi sarees of Chettinadu and chungidi saris of Madurai are popular. Cottons belong to Salem and Madurai; mainly the fine white veshtis with zari borders are popular for their high-quality. Such cotton costumes have huge demand throughout India and many other parts of the world.

Similar to Indian crafts, dyeing and weaving were very popular. Older weaving traditions vanished, but the textile industry still prevails to flourish in South India. The Weavers Service Centre in Chennai played a big role in reviving textile industry and producing beautiful designs.