Saturday, November 27, 2010

SANTHANALAKKSHMI . . . the art of hand-weaving

" Many years ago when i first came to Bangalore, I sold off my few hundred hand-woven antique sarees and traded them in for the cooler jeans. How i repent it now?! " When i heard Chitra Karuppiah (or 'Santhanalakshmi' as she is fondly called by many) lament so, one could clearly sense her sincerity and passion towards her current profession.

I am sure that many of you may have passed by the old Naga theatre (now lemon tree hotel) on St John's road near ulsoor lake. But i wonder how many of you have noticed this cute little store that reads ' Santhanalakshmi - Pure silk & cotton sarees' with some lovely kolam designs in red and a small little 'charka' (clearly showing her passion for the organic and the hand-woven art of weaving) outside.



The store started by Chitra over several years ago (she was earlier located at 'The Sanctuary near safina Plaza) is a treasure house of sarees that showcase the cultural richness of Tamil Nadu. "My father started the very popular Bangalore Biryani Hotel in coimbatore in 1945. He ensured that we inculcated some of the best values around us - we were taught Hindi  by a private tutor as he felt that we must speak the language fluently and I even learnt to play the veena. We would visit temples every week and spend holidays at our grandfather's farm in idyllic fun. We would have some of the best weavers come home to make custom-made sarees for all the women in our household for any festive or special occasion. "

Geeta in one of her own creations



With a childhood drenched in everything that was richly south-indian it is no surprise that Geeta (who trained to study law) ended up reviving some of the most beautiful sari traditions that have long been forgotten. " I work with my weavers in Karaikudi who for many decades have been working for my family. Each of  my sarees has been hand-woven with absolutely no compromise in the quality of cotton or the art of weaving." 


Traditional 'pattu sarees with kalamkari pallu


Tamil Nadu Meets Andhra- the traditional kanjeevaram silk with kalamkari work on the pallu - around Rs 5000/-
                          
The colours and combinations are personally chosen by Chitra and she is no hurry to 'mass-manufacture' sarees. As she removed each saree and proudly explained the nuances of each , I could not but help wonder in amazement at the wealth of information that stood before me. So right from the typical chettinad checks cotton sarees and the big border chettinad-kandanghi-inspired-silk sarees to the mutli-coloured temple border sarees and modern interpretations of kalamkari , there was no dearth of beautiful designs in this store. Here below are some of the creations that most impressed me.

the rarely seen coarse cotton saree typical of chettinad - the kandanghi cotton - with bold striped huge borders on either side. Ms. Sonia Gandhi picked up a few of these at Chitra's exhibition in Delhi organised by the Crafts Council of India.

the typical 'kandanghi' border chettinad cotton, re-interpreted in a modern silk form
the traditional temple border interpreted in a multi-coloured modern avtaar
'Muthu Kanna Pettu' - a traditional pattern revived in a contemporary mauve

silk saree with 'paalum palum' inspired pallu
the 'cult' bright silk checks made popular by actress Saroja Devi in the Sivaji starrer tamil blockbuster movie 'Paalum Palamum'
once called 'Chinnalam pattu' or silk for the poor...revived. Rs 800/-

the once popular 'Ganga-Jamuna' cotton saree with huge borders on either side .

a traditional 'antique' border revived - the typical cotton one in pink revived in a silk format in blue

a chettinad revival saree - notice the rarely seen 'tissue' work between the saree body and palav area..with the orange temple motif reincarnate! Rs 1250/-

the popular peacock or 'mayil' motif in a contemporary avtaar!

the typical daily wear of many a south indian woman - the 'sungudi' saree
Women like Chitra are few and their cause, rare - To protect and conserve the dying traditions of India and to rightfully give credit to the 'artisans' who spend days to weave that one elegant cotton saree. It was the most beautiful 2 hours that I had ever spent in any store...i got to see a whole lot of south India and i savoured every moment of it. I hope you do too!


the simple yet elegant typical chettinad-checks cotton sarees - from Rs 800 to 1250




Kudos to you Chitra and to your kind!!! 
Address :- Santhanalakkshmi Pure Silk & Cotton Sarees, #174, st. John's Road, Near old Naga theatre of Hotel Lemon Tree, BAngalore - 560 042. Tel - 080-40925414/9343548543












85 comments:

  1. Awesome creations - esp the pattu with kalamkari border - really liked that one! Good show Chitra and thanks Kartik for introducing us to her :)

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  2. Didn't know about this store. Thanks for sharing. I absolutely loved the kandanghi sarees. I'll be sure to visit soon!

    Beautiful work, Chitra!

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  3. lessons to a tam from a mal:
    You wrote palum palamum..... shameful. your mother would be ashamed of you. it's Pazham. Like in Tamizh and not tamil!...Don't you remember the aunty in India Habitat center telling you?

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  4. @ nimi - ha ha ...sorry..of course i know that...but only us south indians read it that way da...thought i would make it generic for everyone to understand :-)

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  5. This blog entry was a joy to read.

    I would much rather shop in a small store like this where the attention is personalized and the inventory unique.

    Thanks for such a wonderful post.

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  6. I bought 3 saris from her.. and they look very classy

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  7. chinnalam pattusaree is beautiful

    is available chinnalampattu saree diferent type & coloures?

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  8. howmany tipes of "chinnalam pattu saree"?
    send me models of pictures.

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  13. Embroidery Sarees were always a fantasy to me. They look so elegant and beautiful.

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  16. Replies
    1. Silk Sarees were always a fantasy to me. They look so elegant and beautiful.

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  17. Such an unearthly beauty.Never knew such finer details of this great fabric

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  18. Kanjivaram sarees were always a fantasy to me. They look so elegant and beautiful.

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  26. Great article!! The beautiful cotton sarees with finest hand-weaving designs. Thanks for sharing informative post with us!

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