Updated: Jan 9, 2021
The Petni- the hallmark of the kanchipuram saree
If there is one thing that identifies the Kanchipuram saree,it hasto be the Petni. This is the painstaking, highly skilled, time-consuming technique of introducing the threads of the pallu in a contrast colour to be woven as one with the body of the sarre, creating what is referred to as the “true Kanchi”. The contrast pallu is not woven separately and then joined to the body as many mistakenly think. The new contrast coloured yarn corresponds with the colour of the borders. This yarn is laid warp yarn by warp yarn on the warp yarn of the body.
The petni laying of contrast pallu. The body is blue and the rich pink-red pallu yarn has been introduced, This is the ultimate art in the kanchipuram saree.
To oversimplify a very old, skilled and time-consuming technique could be criminal. Suffice it for the reader to knowthat the contrast yarn is laid over the body warp. The new contrast warp is held firmly, and the weaver now weaves an inch or two, beating the weft firmly. After another inch or two of weaving, and the weft beaten dwon firmly, the old warp is cut and the weaver continues weaving the contrast pallu.At he end of this seamless join, the line of yarn is cut. One sees the characteristic two paralles line of the tufts left by the cur yarn on the wrong side of the saree, This system of introducing and weaving a contrast pallu is called the petni. The petni, woven by a master of the art, will show the whole saree to be one continuous piece, with no awkwardness in the movement from the body to the pallu in the weaving. Even the peni becomes an integral part of the whole as if it is part of the composition. It is the price of the Tamil Nadu weaver.
The petni of a Kanchipuram saree, showing the “wrong” side on the reader’s left (showing the two lines of cut blue warp yarn), and the right side up on the right, a true testimony to the skill of the weaver. The body of the saree is blue and the south.