The gossamer-like chanderi derives its name from ancient town of Chanderi in Guna district of Madhya Pradesh. The fine chanderi has been compared with the fine Dhaka/Dacca muslin (which could pass through a ring).
Traditionally, the chanderi had a silk warp and cotton weft, with zari ornamentation, enamelled in soft tones, woven into the pallu/pallav (end-piece), kinara (border), and body of the sari. In the last few decades, silk has replaced the cotton weft to a large degree. The designs are produced by the extra warp and weft techniques. Three shuttles are used for weaving the border.
Types of Chanderi saris:
|Lightest Muslin||Plain||Very narrow border of complementary-warp zari||Few narrow zari bands, or one single wider band.|
|Common Chanderi||Buttis appear in the field||Broader borders in supplementary-warp zari, with coloured supplementary-warp silk embellishments woven into small, repeat geometrical or floral designs||Border elements repeated twice, often with narrow woven lines and buttis. Minakari [inlay] effect most common in this.|
|Do Chashmee Two Streams
(NO LONGER MADE)
|Wide borders with brightly-coloured supplementary-warp silk in a satin weave upon which were supplementary bands of white geometric patterns. (In some saris the borders were reversible).||Relatively insignificant: with either two narrow or one wide band of zarior coloured silk woven in|
(Details sourced from Lynton & Singh, 1995: p. 149.)
Colour was introduced into chanderi weaving about 50 years ago. Till then only white saris were woven, which were then washed in saffron to give them their characteristic golden hue and fragrance. Flowers were also used for dyeing these saris into soft pastel colours. Now the saris are available in a range of light and dark colours with and without the gold borders and buttis. Plain colours are also woven, usually to be used as a base for printing, embroidery and other embellishments. The quintessential colours now are light pastels; embellishments emphasising intricate gold borders and jewel like buttis are characteristic of the chanderi.