Worn by the women in Kerala on special occasions like wedding, a Kasavu saree holds traditional and cultural relevance in the state. The saree is absolutely understated and stands out because of simplicity. Unlike the sarees coming from other parts of India, a Kasavu saree is minimal in appearance but the weavers work as much hard as they would do in making say a brocade saree. The Malayali artist, Raja Ravi Verma made Kasavu saree popular through his painting. Consisting of only two hues - cream and gold, Kasavu is actually the gold zari incorporated in the border of the saree. There's an interesting story behind the origin of Kasavu saree and apart from that, we have talked about the process of making a Kasavu saree and Kasavu saree - the traditional wear of Kerala in popular culture.
Origin of Kasavu Saree
Back in 1799 to 1810, during the reign of His Highness Maharaja Balaramavarma, handloom weaving was introduced in Balaramapuram. So, the Maharaja and his Chief Minister, Ummini Thampi transformed Balaramapuram into an agro-based industrial region by promoting paddy and coconut cultivation and fishing among other activities. During this time around, the Chief Minister invited seven weaver families, Shaliars from Tamil Nadu to Balaramapuram. These weavers were from the Nagercoil region of Tamil Nadu and these weavers made graceful outfits for the royal families of Travancore. Eventually, the handwoven outfits like mundu (lower garment- the ancient form of saree) and mundu neriyathu (saree) gained popularity.
When with the invasion of Vasco da Gama, the gold was bartered in return of spices and this gold was woven by the weavers on the traditional wear of Kerala. So, today this gold zari work is called Kasavu as mentioned before and the sarees are called Kasavu sarees.
Kind Of Kasavu Sarees
Actually Kasavu sarees are traditionally cream and gold but sometimes they can be subtly printed too and have little less fine zari work. So, as per the Government of India, Kerala has three clusters, which have been given the GI (Geographical Indication) tag and the weavers in these areas make Kasavu sarees, which are the traditional wear of Kerala. So, Balaramapuram region, the hub of handlooms, is where pure zari work Kasavu sarees are made and the thread counts there is as high as 120. The Balaramapuram area's Kasavu sarees also have motifs. The Chendamangalam region, on the other hand, is where sarees are woven with half-fine zari and with 80 to 100 thread counts but not a lot of motifs are incorporated in sarees of the Chendamangalam region. In the Kuthampully region, sarees with zari are made but they have patterned and jacquard border with human motifs.
Process Of Making Kasavu Sarees
The process of making Kasavu saree is tedious and time-consuming. So, the cotton yarns are immersed in the kanji liquid for the yarns to get stiff. So, the cotton yarns are knotted together and fixed on to the loom. The zari threads are then knotted and applied with wax throughout the length. The weaving is done when cotton yarns and zari threads are set on the loom. The gold zari is first soaked in the fabric so that it doesn't get dirty and this traditional wear of Kerala - Kasavu saree takes about five to six days. However, today the gold zari is getting replaced by various other colours of zari. The patterns and motifs are also experimented with.
Kasavu Sarees In Popular Cultures
Kasavu sarees are generally worn at the festival of Onam or on other auspicious occasions but Kasavu sarees have become mainstream. How can we forget Sonam Kapoor Ahuja's Kasavu saree in the song from her movie, Aisha? On one of the occasions, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan was also spotted with her daughter. Aishwarya Rai donned Kasavu saree, which was accentuated by cream and golden hue and featured motifs in gold tone too. Genelia D' Souza and Asin among other divas have also flaunted kasavu sarees. Because kasavu sarees are so simple, you can even wear them for informal occasions but with light jewellery.
Accessorising Kasavu Sarees
The traditional sarees of Kerala, Kasavu sarees are usually paired with gold jewellery because of the golden zari accent. While on auspicious occasions, ladies team it with heavy temple jewellery, otherwise some even opt for light gold jewellery, who wants to keep it minimal. You can also opt for pearl jewellery or a combination of pearl and gold when wearing the traditional Kasavu saree. Gemstones are little less preferred but who knows, you can make heads turn with the right gemstone jewellery. However, avoid wearing silver and diamonds with the cream and gold Kasavu saree.
So, are you going to buy a Kasavu saree for the next occasion? Let us know that.