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The Ageless Allure of The Temple Border

Kanjeevarams and the temples of Tamil Nadu share a bond which is a tale as old as time. They have gone hand in hand with each other ever since its inception, be it the many motifs and designs that find their place within the folds of the weave or the austere with which the saree mirrors the architecture of these temples. It is perhaps for this very reason that even in this era, the traditional temple motifs and designs assume a central position in dominating the silks of South India, above all, The Kanjeevaram.


The temple gopurams


The ‘gopurams’ or the gateways to a temple are undoubtedly an integral component of these places of worship. They are imposing in form, yet so visually arresting with its entirety playing host to a variety of sculptures. These gopurams have become an undeniable identity of temples and therefore, it is only natural that the artisans of Kanchipuram found a place for them among these heritage weaves. These patterns are structurally placed as a figurative relief along the borders or pallu, adjoining the body of the saree. It is not just the cultural and historical connotations that have made the temple border a recurring element in these silks, but also the visual appeal they exude that make them a delight to behold. Temple borders have since been known to take two particularly noticeable forms, the ‘thaazhampoo rekku’ and the ‘pillayar rekku’. The thaazhampoo rekku, taking after a fragrant yellow flower called a screw pine, materialises as a row of symmetrical panels placed at the point of interlocking in the renowned korvai technique. With the pillayar rekku, a series of tapered triangles are proportionately positioned along the border. No matter which form it may take, these patterns are a homage to the spired, majestic gopurams of the temples. From a sacred standpoint, these designs were woven with the belief that they will bestow the wearer with an abundance of blessings. However, beyond the aesthetic appeal and the spiritual significance, the temple borders are also woven to endure and last through the life-time of the saree. 


The Pillayar Rekku Border








The Thaazhampoo Rekku Border


Just as the sculptor carves life into mere stone to reflect the divine, the weaver does so with the silken yarn and in the repository of the many elements that are replicated onto the canvas of a Kanjeevaram, the temple border stands out in all its glory.