Arani, one of the most important centres for silk in Tamil Nadu, is located in the Thiruvannamalai district. Here both the ladies and gents produce good quality silk sarees and handloom fabric. Arani handlooms are well known for the durability of the colours used in the yarn. The mixture of colour gives the durability.
First the yarn is dyed. For the colour to be permanent, the yarn is then dyed. The starched yarn is bought from the merchants by master weavers and is distributed to weavers, who turn it on the charkha to obtain thread, which is used for weft.
Next the yarn is loaded on the looms. The length of yarn which is loaded as warp is known as Pavvu. A weaver can weave four sarees from one pavvu. It will take a week to weave one pavvu of four sarees. The softness and the hardness of the fabric depend on the count used in weaving. The count in a handloom fabric refers to the number of threads woven length wise (warp) and breadth wise (weft) a square inch. The count in the saree is 2400 which provides strength to the fabric and durability.
Mostly Frame looms are used in Arani Silk Saree weaving. In a frame loom, the loom will be fixed in a frame. For creating designs, a computerised design is punched into thick cards which are loaded into the Jacqard in the loom, so that the needles will pull and put the threads according to the holes to create the design. Jacqard is a box like structure at the top of the loom which contains needles which will read the designs on the punch card.
The Arani handlooms are famous for their softness and durability. The fabrics are soft and comfortable and suitable for all climates. Originally only silk sarees were manufactured on Arani looms but now other products like dress materials are also woven on it.
The skill of weaving is passed on from generation to generation traditionally, by way of vision and practice. On cannot learn the craft theoretically or from institutes. However the craft is dwindling due to the low wages and traditional weavers opting out of this industry.
The speciality of an Arani silk saree is that one can find two different bodies and pallus on each side, hence it can be used as two different sarees.
Arani Sarees and fabric are available in most of the textile shops in Chennai.