Dileep Rangan T's 'Kanchipuram Silk Motifs': Weaving reels on looms of legacy

Dileep Rangan T's 'Kanchipuram Silk Motifs': Weaving reels on looms of legacy

Updated: 2 months, 1 day, 26 minutes, 26 seconds ago
Diya Maria George


Express News Service

The threads and looms of Kanchipuram have a lot of stories to tell — of the eye that observes a design, the hand that weaves the silk, and the one who wears the silk. Often we are limited to perceiving the beauty of the sari by its appearance and not delving into the intricacies of its creation.

Inspired by the Kanjeevaram legacy, filmmaker, and theatre practitioner, Dileep Rangan T and his team at Big Short Films created a short film, Kanchipuram Silk Motifs, to zoom into the importance of sari making.

The 11-minute film released in August on YouTube takes the viewers on a trip to the vibrant and culturally rich city of Kanchipuram with lakes, temples, and historically significant places, where the silk is created.

“Kanchipuram, the centre for silk saris, is also called the silk city. The main room in every house in Kanchipuram is where the loom is kept. Kanchipuram silk sari means pure silk with pure zari. It is something which gives a good feel on the hands,” explains the narrator of the film, introducing the silk.

Derived designs

The film begins with a shot of a sketch being done by Krishnamoorthy, an award-winning third-generation weaver. In the backdrop, there are Bharatanatyam dancers wearing saris and dancing in the architecturally significant temples.

Krishnamoorthy’s observations which encompass the culture of south India transcends into the drawings, then into threads, and finally, into the sari.

“The motifs are visual representations of how the weaver perceives a certain object. The traditional designs come from the temples and the elders have left them for us to get inspired. Kanchipuram was full of natural beauty and bountifulness. The flora, fauna, all these inspired the weavers to bring out these symbols and motifs,” says the narrator.

The film emphasises the birds which are often represented in motifs.

“There are certain birds that are sacred and are the emissaries of the gods. Iruthalapakshi (bird with two heads and one body), shows the power, and the togetherness of a couple. Annapakshi is a mythical bird that separates milk and water. It can float on water without getting its feathers rippled,” goes the narration.

Even though the film only shows less than seven motifs in detail, it gives the viewer a glimpse of the existing designs, especially the 250 to 300 ones created by Krishnamoorthy. “My guru made around 1,008 designs and I have made that into 5,000 designs in one loom, around 25 metres and 60 inches wide,” Krishnamoorthy shares while talking about his creation.

Celebrating the craftsman

Showing the Kanchipuram sari legacy with Krishnamoorthy in the forefront is what Dileep and his team attempt to do with their film. It has been 47 years since Krishnamoorthy learned the craft of weaving. Over the years, the dedication and effort he has put in have turned him into a master of the craft and a genius at creating motifs.

Dileep says, “Today, there is no one to take Krishnamoorthy’s place. People like him are hard to find. He is so regular and he still works every day. We wanted to make a film because we wanted people to get inspired by his hard work and efforts. His skills fascinated me.”

The film shows the everyday struggle of a designer who is consistent with his work even after years of hard work. Krishnamoorthy imparts his knowledge to students for free and aspires to create more skilled weavers like him.

Balaji, a weaver says, “Krishnamoorthy sir brings a design alive onto the sari, how a sculptor sculpts his statue. He sees it as something like life. He doesn’t keep his knowledge to himself and teaches students for free.” The film reiterates that Kanchipuram is synonymous with Krishnamoorthy, a lot of weavers like him, and the designs they have created.