Chendamangalam sari

  • Chendamangalam is a small town near Ernakulam, Kerala that stands at the crossroads of three rivers and centuries of history and culture.
  • Dotted with Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Hindu places of worship, the town was part of the ancient port complex of Muziris and known for its fine cotton spun here by the Devanga Chettiars, a community of weavers originally from Karnataka.
  • When the rivers ran riot during the Kerala floods of 2018, they not only threw sludge and mildew on the looms, yarns and finished goods of the Chendamanagalam cluster of weavers, they also took with them the dreams and future of a community already struggling to stay afloat.
  • The GI-tagged Chendamangalam sari is recognisable by its puliyilakara border, a thin black line that runs abreast with the sari’s selvedge.
  • With its extra-weft chuttikara and stripes and checks of varying width, its look has changed little since the time of the Paliam family, once prime ministers to the Cochin maharajas, who invited the Chettiars to settle here and produce these handcrafted treasures.
  • The saris made from the fine-count cotton yarn of 120s, 100s and 80s take between two to four days of painstaking labour, depending on the design vocabulary.