Saturday, June 11, 2005

Whose Sari , now ?

A traditional Indian fabric endures
Byline:  Nachammai Raman Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor
Date: 06/08/2005

(MADRAS, INDIA) Only the intoxicating fragrance of the jasmine that
flower girls sell along the teeming sidewalks hints at the hidden
opulence of the shopping district. Otherwise, Panagal Park, with its
modest bazaar vendors and dusty traffic, is a far cry from
New York's Fifth Avenue.

But enter one of the multistoried silk stores, and you'll hear elevator
gossip reminiscent of Tiffany's or Bergdorf Goodman: Is it true that
celebrity came to the first floor today? No, she came yesterday;
another one came today.

What they shopped for were Kanchipuram silk saris, considered the
Versaces of southern India, because one piece can cost $1,000. Many
will last a lifetime with good care, and all represent status.

Kanchipuram silk, named after the city in which it's produced, is a
tradition that some say goes back hundreds of years, perhaps to the
origins of the city in the 8th or 9th century. The colors are
brilliant, and the designs of tropical flora and fauna, in gold thread,
are exquisitely geometric.

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