Kalakshetra is synonymous with Bharatanatyam dance maestro and theosophist Late Shrimati Rukmini Devi Arundale.
And sarees from Kalakshetra have always been a dream for all Bharatanatyam students far and wide.
PC Kalakshetra Archives
Rukmini Devi Arundale
Rukmini Devi, was as passionate for traditional South Indian handloom sarees as she was for the classical dance form. A keen eye for a beautiful saree, she was known to admonish a student who did not wear something that seemed fit to the dance gurukul environs.
A weaving centre was thus established by her at Kalakshetra, with the sole intention of reviving traditional motifs, designs and colours.
Ironically, years after her passing away (1986) CERC took up the project of reviving her designs and work on sarees.
A typical Kalakshetra saree design is the mubbhagam—wherein the sari is divided into three equal parts. Namely, the upper and the lower parts framing the borders. The traditional motifs of a Kalakshetra saree include:
50 exclusive designs have been licensed to the Tamil Nadu Handlooms Directorate and are marketed as 'Kalakshetra Saris'
A typical Kalakshetra saree could also include large checks, gold lines on borders that are broad, geometric patterns interspersed with flowers, two coloured stripes on the body of the sari and elaborate pallus with parrots, elephants, architectural motifs from temples. Some also have the conventional Ganga-Jamuna borders, that is the bottom and top in two different or contrasting.
It takes eighteen days to weave a genuine Kalakshetra Saree
The Kalakshetra saree that athai (Rukmini Devi) envisioned is in the process of being revived with the help of the Indian artisans in Chennai. The broad borders have returned, the original designs have been brought back after sourcing the old sarees of athai and her contemporaries, old available material was collected, and a record book is now being maintained.
Also Read: The Weave of God-Kanjeevaram Sarees
Few in Northern India know of this beautiful weave in enchanting colours but once they have worn a crisp cotton or a genuine silk handloom Kalakshetra saree, they are a convert for life.
Till the next post...