Six yards of Sangam glory

Capturing the essence of south India’s rich history and cultural heritage in the folds of silk, Palam Silks pays a tribute to the four glorious kingdoms - the Cheras, Cholas, Pandyas and Pallavas.

Published: 13th September 2020 11:17 PM  |   Last Updated: 13th September 2020 11:17 PM   |  A+A-

A Kanchipuram silk saree with a long grey border displaying copper coin inscriptions from the Kongu Chera period

A Kanchipuram silk saree with a long grey border displaying copper coin inscriptions from the Kongu Chera period. (photo| Special Arrangement)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The Sangam era is a landmark in the history of India. It was during this golden period that the southern parts of India flourished under the rule of four powerful kingdoms - the Cheras, Cholas, Pandyas, and Pallavas - through their immense contribution in the fields of Tamil art, architecture, literature and poetry. In an effort to revive the rich cultural heritage and pay an ode to the four glorious kingdoms, Palam Silks has themed its latest silk sari collection as Dynasty.

After months of research and design detailing, the past comes alive between the folds of their sari. The idea was born as an offshoot of a talk that Jeyasree Ravi, founder of Palam Silks, attended last June.

"The topic highlighted traditional motifs on Kanjivaram silk saris such as flowers, animals, and birds, and their relevance. I was reminded of a coin Buddha motif we had introduced on a lightweight silk sari six years ago. It was an instant hit and we sold more than 100 pieces. On similar lines, I wanted to explore the coins of different dynasties. As we went about the idea, I realised it was ambitious. There were so many kingdoms and plenty of coins in the ocean and it turned out to be unwieldy. Eventually, we decided to zero in on the four kingdoms," recalls Jeyasree.

A team of four started work on the collection last December. From emblems, seals to sculptures, they filtered 40-45 designs dating back to the four kingdoms, by January.

"It was a laborious process and we had to be careful while dealing with history. We sourced plenty of books to get the authentic designs. Each coin reflects several elements and we’ve tried to incorporate as many designs in different permutations and combinations as possible. This was followed by a discussion on which motif would suit the pallu, buttas, and the sari border. The designs are crude as not all coins come in a complete circle," explains Jeyasree. Fortunately, the designs were ready for the next stage of weaving just before the pandemic struck.

Jeyasree’s idea blew the minds of her three master weavers. "We work with weavers around the villages of Arani and Kanchipuram. The community takes a month-long break after Pongal. I met them by February. Although nothing matches the personal interaction experience, we followed up through video-calls later during the lockdown. The original plan was to launch a few pieces for the Tamil New Year. We ended up getting the first piece only by June considering the circumstances. It was worth the wait," says Jeyasree with pride.

While the motifs may be ancient and traditional, the colour palette is contemporary. A vibrant purple Kanjivaram silk sari has buttas inspired by the copper coins of the Pallava dynasty and the symbols found on them.

The deep, rich border showcases carved pillars from ancient Pallava temples while the pallu is covered by the sigil of the Pallavas, a magnificent lion. Another regal black Kanjivaram silk sari paints an elegant picture with its silver bavanji pet border that is contrasted with the traditional gold zari work on the pallu.

The body carries buttas inspired by the signature coins from the Chera period which makes it stand apart. "The first set of designs is dominated by pastels. The next one will have bright colours but not your conventional parrot green, araku, or bottle green. Designs will keep coming in based on demand," she shares. The saris are available for patrons at their retail stores and on the website.

"Our loyal clientele knows the texture we offer so they’ve been seeing the collection through video-calls. People can drop in and check it out. This is a part of the Diwali collection. There are a couple of more collections that we’re working on," assures Jeyasree. The saris in the Dynasty collection are priced between Rs 18,000 to Rs 30,000.

Behind the scenes

A team of four started work on the collection last December. From emblems, seals to sculpture, they
filtered 40-45 designs dating back to the four kingdoms, by January.

For details, visit their showrooms or website:

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