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Rasipuram Sarees – Fusion Fabrics Of Modern Taste And Ethnic Style.

By Expert Author: menaka poonam

Rasipuram, a town in Namakkal district of TamilNadu, India, once known as Raajapuram, is famous for its Rasipuram Silk Sarees.

The Rasipuram Silks are known for their fast colours, durability and comparatively light weight. Motifs that adorn the fabric have been inspired by traditional architecture, geometrical patterns and nature. Fancy designs and beautiful embroidery work on the borders and pallu further enhance the appeal.

The count of a fabric or the number of threads in a square inch of warp and weft determines the fineness - more the threads, finer the Saree. The count or fineness of a Rasipuram saree is quite high with somewhere between 5000 and 6000 threads per inch being considered. The width of the saree comes to 51 inches. A traditional heritage involving all family members, Rasipuram Silks are extremely fine hand-woven Sarees which, with full-fledged efforts, take between 4 to 8 days to weave.

The Rasipuram Silk Saree is available in delightful variations of patterns, motifs, border and pallu adornments such as patch, embroidery, multi-colour threads. Colour combinations and contrasts contribute in enriching the aesthetic appeal.
Printed mango booties adorning the hand-loom woven Rasipuram Silk Sari is a beautiful sight, exquisite and elegant, making it apt for corporate wear, social gatherings, functions and grand parties.
The Plain Rasipuram Saree woven with temple border is more traditional and would be quite suitable for social occasions, ceremonies and religious functions.
Multi thread embroidery, kundans and sequins work decorating this southern hand-loom silk sari is quite fancy and grand. Gorgeous and eye-catching, it is highly preferred wear for festive occasions, corporate functions and special invites.

The process of making a Rasipuram Silk Saree is in stages, with care taken at every stage.
Yarn is put in boiling water at very high temperature. After the degumming or separation of gummy substance, the dyeing colour mixed in it. Stirring the yarn ensures uniform colouring. The temperature is kept high for good adhesion of colour. Colour specifications, are generally, by the designer, unless otherwise specified in the custom order. Spinning the yarn after drying in shade (direct sun would affect the colour of the yarn), coloured threads are prepared.

The Rasipuram Silk Saree is woven on simple wooden pit looms, where the weaver is at floor level. This simple loom of Rasipuram is made up of wood and is fixed in the floor. The Rasipuram weaver has to sit on the floor and operate the pedal in the pit. Designs are woven through pre-drawn designs which are card punched and fitted in the Jacquard arrangement, which monitors the weft weave for the same.

The thread which is arranged on the warp (pavvu) is meant to weave 6 silk sarees. Weaving a pavvu could take close to one and a half months. Remuneration is moderate to average considering the effort that goes into the making of the saree.

The high cost of silk yarn, lack of subsidies, govt. apathy evident through existing policies and poor market response had once caused a rapid decline in the making of these traditional offerings with weavers opting to move to power looms and even other professions too. Cotton versions of the Rasipuram saree also flourished as a cheaper alternative to a fine tradition.

The continued efforts by the Tamil Nadu Handloom Weavers’ Co-operative Society Ltd.(also known as Co-optex) , has rejuvenated a fine traditional art that had seen bad times in recent years. Mechanical pedal looms provided in pilot districts, training skills arranged for weavers in jacquard looms, revival of hand-woven embroidery, providing for markets for these traditional sarees and ensuring decent remuneration to the weavers are some of the heart-warming initiatives brought about by it.
The Rasipuram is back now to have its place in the sun as a traditional handloom saree par excellence.

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