Chanderi is a town in the Ashok Nagar district of Madhya Pradesh. Since it was a town very strategically placed on the borders of Malwa and Bundelkhand, so it dominated the trade routes of central India as well as to the ancient ports of Gujarat, Malwa, Mewar, Central India and the Deccan. Chanderi then become an important military outpost prized by all the rulers who shaped the destiny of India; be they the Malwa Sultans, the Mughals, the Bundelas or the Scindias. So Chanderi became an important cultural and economic centre of India. It was a beautiful confluence and mix of the different arts, crafts, weaves and traditions which each of the rulers brought along with them.
Chanderi is also very famous for its master weave, which is also known as Chanderi as the town itself. The mention of the Chanderi weave first appeared probably 50 years after its inception. It appeared in the Ain-e-akbari, written by Abul Fazl during Akbar’s reign, talks about the fine weave of Chanderi. It also appeared in Ma’asir-e-Alamgiri written during Aurangzeb’s reign which also does mention of a extremely fine cloth, with gold and silver worked into it. It also states that during the Bundela period, the Chanderi cloth was marked with their seal, which consisted of a crown flanked by prancing lions. This shows that the Chanderi cloth was an antiquity of the handloom industry from the 14th century onwards and was afforded by the royalty only.
Chanderi is produced in 3 fabrics- cotton, silk and silk cotton lately. The raw materials, i.e. cotton, silk thread and zari are imported from other parts of India, as well as from China, Japan and Korea.
Traditionally looms are still used even today as they were in the yesteryears as the primary means of production. These included the pit looms, dobby and jacquard looms.
Chanderi is woven using hand spun cotton warps and wefts. The fabric was woven using very fine hand spun yarn, which accounted for its delicate texture. The Chanderi fabrics are known for their sheer texture, lightweight and glossy transparency. The colours used for dyeing the cloth were always natural ones derived from natural sources. In spite of synthetic colours being used nowadays, natural dyes are still very much in demand.
The shapes /designs woven are called Buttis, which are made by the use of needles. The needles used are in proportion to the number of Buttis woven into the fabric.
See the magical Chanderi being created by the weavers of Chanderi. A film by UNIDO:
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The production of this textile is specific to the town of Chanderi and has been protected by the Indian Government as a Geographic Indication (GI).
The state government has supported this beautiful weave by adopting clusters of weavers,providing financial aid and loans,participating in exhibitions regularly and upgrading the weavers in terms of new designs and better methods of weaving.
We can buy beautiful dupattas,saris and salwar suits made out of the Chanderi weave.
Chanderi is still very much alive as it is one of the most loved weaves in India and outside it too.
Come lets get spell-bound!
LONG LIVE INCREDIBLE HANDS!