Madurai Sungudi Sarees - Present Trend

Madurai Sungudi Sarees - Present Trend
R.S. Balakumar
Associate Professor
Dept of Fashion Design & Arts
Hindustan University, Chennai, India
Email: rsbalakumar1953@gmail.com


Madurai is the pilgrimage and also called as one of the famous temple city of the south India. This is the place of foreigners visiting day to day, showing their tourist interest. This place is famous for the jasmine flowers and jigarthanda (milk added with china grass, rose flavor and sugar included soft drink served with chillness, available).

In Madurai sungudi sarees are made in pure cotton and generally its weaving is called woven. Present generation of women prefer to wear these sarees due to its soft and suitable for drapability and enhance the aesthetic look. These sarees are also be used as both informal and formal wear. Even the traditional and orthodox women will prefer to wear the nine yards saree and these particular sarres are made by the weavers in recent days.

Fig: Madurai sungudi sarees
Sungudi is the word specially denoted to saurashtras community and derieved from the ancient language, sanscrit word sunnam meaning “round”. Thus sungudimeant ringed dots, normally spread in to the entire saree and forms the unique, special appearance to the sarees. These sarees are made by the saurashtrian community since the sixteenth century during the Nayak dynasty ruled in Madurai. These weavers were migrated into southern India along with the Nayak dynasty or the rulers.

Sungudi sarees have been so deeply entrenched in the psyche of south India for it is a must and necessary to wear in many communities during marriages in the south India to adorn themselves only in the sungudi saree and nothing else. The weavers are engaged in manufacturing of the sungudi sarees belonging to the said community came to be known as the “Pattunulkarans”, in Tamil language and in English, silk weavers. According to the official catalogue, classvii, page 252 at the colonial and Indian Art exhibition conducted over a century ago won a Bronze medal for these cotton sarees.

Madurai is famous for its river vaigai. This river is the life source of Madurai and considered as sacred. Vaigai river water is used for dyeing process and the manufacturing process of the Madurai sungudi saree is merely meant as the cottage industry. Now a days Tamil Nadu government has granted major subsides to these cottage industries to be well grown up.

Unbleached cotton sarees are being woven by means of hand loom and as well as power loom in recent days, then tie-dyeing process are make as a value added goods. The sarees used are woven using 80’s or 100’s-combed/carded yarn for warp and 80’s-100’s combed/carded yarn for weft.

Near by Madurai a small village is located named as Chinnalapatti, here, more number of saurashtrian weavers community are engaged in artificial or art silk sarees weaving to meet the requirement of economically weaker people to wear these as silk sarees. Splendid and vibrant colourful sarees are being manufactured in thschinnalapatti village and this is called as chinnalapattu-means less expensive. Sungudi sarees have Bandhani pattern lightweight and comfortable wear for all age group women. In chennalapattu involves looming, weaving, dyeing and printing.

In the past generation sungudi sarees dyeing process purely based on the natural dyes-stuff.Attractive colours red, deep yellow, maroon, burgundy deep blue colours were used for dyeing,but even now the traditional weavers are still following the same techniques.

Today with the advent of artificial dyes are also be used. These dyes are purchased from Bombay and Ahmedabad. The process of dyeing the saree after tying the knots is also be termed as the intensified labour force and thus time consuming is also considered to be more with cheaper labour cost .

Beautiful women with Madurai sungudi sarees
Fig: Beautiful women with Madurai sungudi sarees
In single plain saree usually longer than six yards contains more than 20,000 puttasapproxily,which generally are uniformly placed,using a single thread.The perfection of the Sungudi saree depending on the firmness of the knot. Pallu portion is always given a contrasting colour.For the pallu portion is dyed separately.Ones the dyeing process is complete and the knots undone metriculously,the single thread is also be reused.

Under the guidance of the Tamil Nadu Government,various co-operative soceities are marketing the Madurai sungudi sarees in their domestic as well as in foreign exporting purpose.Due to rapid growth of online business and export orders sungudi sarees are manufactured and marketed throughout the year.To encourage the marketing purpose,Govt of Tamil Nadu has also exempted the sales tax to these sarees since the year 1959 on wards.

Though more labour intensified and lesser salary structure,more women employability are being araised but the dyeing process area is fully occupied by the men folk.

High –lights about
Madurai sungudi sarees:
  1. 1100 people alone directly involved in the making of sungudi sarees in Madurai.
  2. 5000 people involved in the ancillary (or related to the weaving)such as dyeing ,marketing etc.
  3. The annual sales turnover more than Rs.7. crore per annum exclusively for Madurai sungudi sarees.
  4. Each co-operative society has its quality inspectors.
  5. The process of verification is done through physical examination and comparison.
  6. Now a days traditional and orthodox old aged women prefer to wear nine yard sarees due to the impact of their custom,weavers are also be produced.
  7. Sales tax exemption is given by the government authorities to encourage the weavers community.
  8. To day the Madurai sungudi sarees are exported to all the parts of world and foreign exchange is well increased.
  9. People living in and around Madurai will eager to buy sungudi sarees as their social entity. Summer collection sarees are more comfortable for women due to using of the pure cotton yarn.
  10. More tourists are always visiting the Madurai as the tourist place of interest and willing to purchase the beauty of the sungudi sarees as well as the chinnalapattusarees.more exclusive sungudi and chinnalapattu sarees are salable throughout the year and the sales value also be considerably well increased.
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Mazharul Islam Kiron is a textile consultant and researcher on online business promotion. He is working with one European textile machinery company as a country agent. He is also a contributor of Wikipedia.


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