Handloom Sirumugai Silk Saree Style 3
The humid tropical climate of India makes silk saris in summertime highly impractical and this is when Kora saris come in as a lifesaver – the soft texture and breathable weave in the scorching heat is a blessing to the wearers, which also allows them to look elegant and graceful. The decline in the sale of this glorious weave is due to the change in clothing preferences of women in recent times. Low demand and remuneration have also forced the weavers to switch from Kovai Kora to silk saris. The Government of India awarded a GI Tag to Kovai Kora which helps to fetch a better price in the global markets and also to maintain the expected standards of the original Kora weave. The Government of India sells Kora saris through Co-Optex outlets.
Chronicled from 30 BCE, when the Indo-Roman trade routes were opened, Coimbatore made its place in the history of textiles by dressing the famed Roman aristocrats in togas, the traditional Roman aristocratic wear. Weaving in this part of India never waned with time, as the textile trade still flourishes here.
The colossal textile industry that feeds the economy of this city has earned Coimbatore the nickname the “Manchester of South India”. Also known as Kovai, this city has been flourishing in textile production due to the readily available cotton from the surrounding regions. Out of all the textiles made in Coimbatore, Kovai Kora, the namesake of the city, makes its mark in the textiles of India.
- A unique blend of cotton yarn of the highest quality and traditional silk is woven on traditional handlooms to produce the famed Kovai Kora saris. With the mercerized cotton in the warp and the silk yarn in the weft, the weavers use pit looms to produce saris that are nothing short of resplendent. Coarse in appearance but soft to the touch, this trait has become the keystone behind the Kovai Kora weave and this softness is due to the usage of Kora.
- Kora is a particular variety of silk yarn, which is partially degummed in the production stage to give the fabric a distinctive texture in the weave. Pure Kora saris use Kora threads in both the warp and the weft. The required designs are woven with colored cotton and silk threads – the borders are attached to the saris later on.
- It takes about three days for the weavers to produce the exquisite Kovai Kora saris. They are paid roughly around ₹450 to ₹850 per sari. The traditional weaving families of Coimbatore, Tirupur, and Erode in Tamil Nadu have been active in keeping this weave alive. Sirumugai, a small town in Coimbatore, is the major producer of Kora saris.
While the body of the sari is usually plain, the pallu has designs in bright colors and half-fine zari is used to make the stunning borders. Vibrant hues adorn the saris that are woven in recent times and the higher priced versions have intricate threadwork along with zari work. The zari is mostly procured from Surat.
- The recognition of Kora saris by the Government is still not enough to convince the weavers to go back to the traditional weaving of Kora saris, as it does not fetch even the minimum price. The future looks bleak for these famed weavers if steps are not taking to revitalize this ancient weave.